Advocacy Pays! A Tale of Advocacy with Mobile Phone Company
When Deaf people run into rules and regulations and systems and services that just aren’t designed for us — or for deaf or hard of hearing people, or people with disabilities in general–that can be immensely frustrating. And even more so when these barriers mean that we have to end up paying more for the same services that everyone else receives. Sometimes it seems easier to just give in and let the status quo remain. Sometimes it’s easy to fall into the trap of believing that hearing people just never want to listen, or that hearing and non-disabled people just cannot grasp the simple concept that accessibility is a human rights issue. Or that service providers have an obligation to think carefully about accessibility issues BEFORE unveiling their services for the public and resolving problems BEFORE they arise.
Although most service providers still haven’t caught on that it’s smarter to anticipate accessibility issues BEFORE they arise, some of them DO listen when problems are brought to their attention after the fact. Read about one situation that happened recently in England–and read all the way to the bottom to see the results: http://funnyoldlife.wordpress.com/2007/09/09/long-live-unreasonable-people/
The phone company in question claimed that it was not their “intent” to discriminate. Granted, it probably wasn’t. But discrimination was very clearly–initially–the result. And guess what? Unintended discrimination caused accidently by good-hearted people who just didn’t think things through has pretty much the same effect on its victims as intentional discrimination committed by the callous. Which is why, quite frankly, some of us (at least me) don’t particularly care whether a company “meant to” discriminate or not: we just want it FIXED.
The good news is, this one mobile phone company has now repaired the situation, thanks to advocacy from one frustrated customer. Follow the links above to see the whole story unfold for yourself.
If you’re interested in disability advocacy issues in general, then click on the category for “Advocacy” (see under “categories” in the lefthand sidebar for this page) to see some of the other “advocacy” posts I have written. You may be particularly interested in learning more about the ADA Restoration Act, perhaps one of the most important pieces of legislations for Americans with disabilities this year.
Edited to Add: Jim Tobias has correctly pointed out in the comments area below that people interested in advocacy related to technology issues (whether deaf, blind, deaf-blind, or hard of hearing) may find http://www.coataccess.org to be a useful resource for you. I wrote about COAT in an earlier blog post.