I was browsing through Tumblr and stumbled across this saddening story from a member of Legalized Deafies, a Tumblr blog that focuses on deaf-related issues such as politics, audism, technology, education and deaf culture. The story absolutely broke my heart. We often hear stories about racism and prejudices based on size, but rarely about disabilities – and these things happen much more often than we hear about.
In the poster’s case, he was traveling from the National Association of the Deaf Convention in Louisville, Kentucky and was blatantly disrespected by a few employees from United Airlines. Here is his story:
As we were leaving the NAD convention in Louisville, Kentucky, I had on the following shirt I got at the convention: It was a very public week-long event downtown, make no bones about it. As such, the shirt very clearly identified me as deaf. While I was going through the TSA, some of them started laughing in my direction. I thought it might’ve been someone behind me, but I found out otherwise. They went through my bag (for no reason), and found a couple bags of candy I brought. I was told I wasn’t allowed to fly with that (wtf? I’ve flown with food before — these were even sealed still because I brought them right in the airport). I was then asked if I would like to donate the candy “To the USO”. Since I know the airport there has an Air National Guard base, and I figured it would go to the soldiers, I (annoyed) said sure, why not? The guards, as I was getting scanned, started eating the candy they just told me was for the soldiers. In front of me, still laughing at me (very clearly now). One of them asked why they were laughing, and one of them came up to me, pointed at my shirt, laughed at me and said, “Fucking deafie”. The Louisville TSA called me a “fucking deafie” and laughed at me because I was deaf, and they expected I wouldn’t say anything back (or wouldn’t hear them). Make no bones about it — she was facing me and I read her lips. There was no mistake. I would later find out that they had called at least 4 other individuals the same thing. My teammates had to hold me back from going after them, but we moved on. After I had calmed down and we had sat down, some rude as fuck lady got up and started filming us signing. She called us “Dumb apes” with a “gesture language” and laughed at us. When we asked her to stop, she said “I was getting a picture of the plane behind you! (the plane wasn’t even at the gate yet)”and “You’re dumb deafies anyway so no one would believe you.” At this point I was blind in rage, but I let it go. It wasn’t the end of it though. This, however, is why I’m never returning to Louisville, ever again. When we got back to Rochester, we found out that United had lost all of our luggage. It ended up in Kansas. The United reps had put a phone number up and said to call it. I responded, “I’m deaf, I can’t use a phone!” I was told, “Buy a TTY (a telecommunication device for the deaf) then talk to us!” When I shouted back that TTYs had gone obsolete years ago for texting, I was told,“I guess you’re shit outta luck then, huh?” . But I guess because I’m disabled, I have too many rights, huh?