This week there was a disturbing story in the news — one of many we’ve seen over the years — about a deaf man who was shooed out of a McDonald’s restaurant in Florida because it was just too hard for the staff to communicate with him. He went away hungry. You can read about it here.
One person who saw the story was Rick McClain, a deaf man himself, who is also a deaf educator. Talking to WINK News, which ran the original story, he pointed out that it’s not all that hard to communicate with deaf people. It just takes a little thought.
“I understand the stresses of restaurants and businesses, I understand that,” McClain told WINK News. “But to disrespect anyone for any purpose?”
McClain offered some practical advice: if you see a deaf person struggling, use a gesture, mime a sign, write it down.
If you work in any business that serves the public, there are simple things you can do. Keep a pad of paper and a pen handy. Writing works really well when someone can’t hear — or in some cases, speak.
If you really want to go the extra mile, learn some simple sign language. It’s not that hard. You can start here. If you’re in a setting where you have to wear a mask, consider getting some clear ones that allow people to see your lips as you speak. Here’s a link for some good ones.
Most importantly, remember Rick McClain’s words: “The first and most important thing to recognize is that people are people, no matter what.”