Actions Worth Hearing

Hearing impairment issues have prevented residents from being able to participate fully in City Council meetings. During Deaf Awareness Week, the city council canceled its regularly scheduled meeting. Councilman Caleb Stapp is pursuing solutions regardless of the cancellation.

Deaf Awareness Week, September 19th-25th, was created to bring understanding and to promote access to technologies. On Caleb Stapp’s facebook page, he posted a video about an exciting technology solution that he would have presented during the next council meeting. However, that meeting would not happen as Mayor Tim Verzal opted to cancel the meeting on short notice, citing a lack of business. 

Speaking with Caleb via phone, he told us, “Deaf Awareness Week is a great time to highlight recent city action that encourages all people to participate in public meetings, however we have not yet gone far enough.” He went on to say, “I have submitted an agenda item for the city council meeting in the first week of October that when passed will increase participation for individuals with hearing loss or auditory processing difficulties. I look forward to seeing our city leadership put pretty words into meaningful action.” 

During the previous city council meeting held on September 7th, the City Council voted unanimously in favor of a resolution, “Establishing an Americans With Disabilities Act Self-Evaluation and Program Access Plan.” The resolution designates the City Clerk, currently Deby Cragun, as the ADA Coordinator. It also sets a deadline of 15 business days for responding to requests for accommodations and grievances in accordance with federal law. 

Attempting to use the current conference system, Councilwoman Helen “Dee” Cragun struggled to hear and be heard. Due to broken stands, the microphones have not been used in the council chambers since the first meeting in July.

Brenda Broenneke spoke about her struggles as a deaf person. She described a situation familiar to many with hearing impairments. Many people with hearing issues, especially if developed later in life, don’t understand sign language. Also, that sound amplification is not a solution for individuals with some levels of hearing loss or auditory processing disorders. Brenda stated that she would request live captioning as a reasonable and affordable accommodation. Live transcription is included with most modern video conferencing systems.

Sources:

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