Deaf FTers?

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Old Mar 18, 14, 10:46 am
  #61
 
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Well, if you don't inform the GAs that you're deaf, how are they supposed to know who to tell about delays or any changes? Email or text isn't the best way to contact passengers because not everybody will be able to access their email or texts at the airport. Standing in the line at the gate can be a pain when the line is a mile long but I still do it anyway. I'd rather stand in line than wear some ridiculous name tag to identify me as deaf or god forbid, have airline staff escort me to the gate to tell the GA that I'm deaf.

And think about this - honey gets more flies than vinegar. When I approach the GA, I have a smile on my face and write out a really polite message like below. I do it early when I arrive at the gate before they're making any announcements if possible because by then, they'll be busy and more liable to forget about you in the chaos.

Hi, I just wanted to let you know that I'm deaf so I'd like to request preboarding if possible and I'll need any important announcements written down, please. I'll be sitting over there. Thank you!
I still do this even if I've had a .... day and exhausted from flying because taking out your anger on the staff does you no good but if you're really nice to them, they'll make it easier for you. I always try to sit close to the gate so I can make eye contact when I see them making an announcement to go "what's going on?"

Just remember that putting DEAF on your boarding pass only really makes a difference once you're on the plane because they will know who you are by where you're sitting. They have no way of identifying you at the gate. I've only had a written message left for me at the gate once ever and it was about a seating thing

And, HoH people do have this problem too. From what I've heard from my friends, it's very hard for them to understand announcements at airports because there are multiple ones at the same time and they're not quite sure which ones belong to their flight. In a way, I think they have it worse than profoundly deaf people because I don't have anybody assuming that I'll be able to hear the announcements so they don't need to tell me what's going on.
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Old Mar 18, 14, 1:38 pm
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emika, I understand that telling them makes it easier (certainly for them) and this is why I generally do the same. (Please don't assume that I am anything other than gracious to the airline crew.)

I am asking whether anyone is aware of the airline informing deaf passengers of the duty to do this. To me, the bottom line is that my "failure" to do it is only a failure if I had been given this duty prior to being expected to perform it.

At the gate, agreed that they may not know what I look like. (In this particular case, this is a regular flight I take and they always act like they recognize me. They have found me in the crowd on other occasions and even signed thank you, and that kind of thing. But let's say they don't know who I am.) Does the airline NEED to know what the deaf passenger looks like to fulfill the one thing they need to do, which is to ensure the deaf passenger boards the aircraft?

First, they don't know which person it is, but they know there is A deaf person awaiting this flight. Maybe the person is still in the lounge. Maybe the person is at the duty free. Maybe the person is held up in security queues. As a deaf person, MUST I "sit right over there" or am I not permitted to browse the shops and snack bars like anyone else? The flight has been delayed and no new time has been announced. I can't go for a walk to stretch my legs? In fact, as I mentioned, I was in the bathroom when they moved, and therefore they would not have been able to notify me based on recognizing me in the gate lounge. (That also gives you an idea how quickly they moved.) As they collect the passengers in a herd to move to the new gate, they could glance at the facial expressions for someone who looks possibly confused by what is going on, and ask to see the Boarding Pass to confirm who it is.

Even if they do not know what the deaf passenger looks like, I think they can keep in mind a deaf person is expected and take one last glance around before they close the flight, particularly if that is the name that has not checked in. And if they move gates, they can ensure that there is some type of visual informational message left at the gate.

The gate had a video monitor, but it was not used to display the new gate location. There was no new flight number posted. It was just a generic "welcome to City X" message. The new gate was only displayed on a Departures board that would not normally be passed again after arriving at the gate.
The airline has an app, but did not put the gate in the app.
The airline has my text number, but did not text me.
The airline has the text number of my Next of Kin at home and has used it previously for other cancellations and rebookings, but did not contact it.
The airport has free wifi and charging stations near the gate, so it has provided the telecommunication support to ensure passengers are able to use this technology.

Everyone may not have access to their email and texts, but my argument is that the airline has a duty to use ALL of the technologies available to them, and not to rely on ONE SINGLE method, consisting of "the passenger shall self-identify at the gate", and then NOT TELL THE PASSENGER of this expectation.

I agree with you that if I self-identify once I do arrive at the gate, I have the means to increase their ability to recognize me, but remember, I have no guarantee they will remember my appearance or pass that information along to the next agent when they swap positions.

Clearly, the airline has ASSUMED that we will all do this. I think that is as faulty an assumption as assuming people can hear as well as they speak. Like your HoH friends, I do speak, and aside from this gate-moving disruption, I very frequently have encounters where the airline personnel are cavalier about notifying me even though I have self-identified at the gate.

There are pitfalls to promptly notifying the person at the gate. I may go to a great deal of effort to notify someone who looks "airline-y" but is, in fact, the delivery person from duty free, or the wheelchair porter, or an aircraft groomer or baggage assistant. Because I don't know how they organize their work and deploy their personnel, it is not my duty to second-guess their procedures and improvise additional steps and processes that may or may not be effective.

So, both the passenger and the airline have things they can do to increase the chance of the deaf passenger boarding the correct flight. However, it seems to me the airline has a DUTY under the ADA and more knowledge of the procedures they will use to ensure they board all of the checked-in passengers, whereas the passenger only has the duties the airline gives to the passenger as part of the transaction to buy and sell the ticket. I have performed every duty they have asked, in regards to self-identifying, and my assumption must be, if they have not asked me for more, then they are confident that their systems are adequate in all other respects.

My question, again, is has anyone ever been explicitly told they have the duty to self-identify at the gate?
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Old Mar 18, 14, 2:55 pm
  #63
 
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I seem to remember it, yes. I'm pretty sure the check-in agents have mentioned it to me before. "Just let them know when you get to the gate" if I was asking something about boarding or gates or something.
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Old Mar 18, 14, 6:30 pm
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I've never been told that, but I do it anyway. I have learned to never assume that they know that I, a disabled pax, am coming, and that I need assistance. You take great care to inform everyone, and still they seem to be unaware. I don''t know why it happens, I just assume that they don't know.
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Old Mar 19, 14, 6:13 pm
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Originally Posted by flyquiet View Post
My question, again, is has anyone ever been explicitly told they have the duty to self-identify at the gate?
As someone who flies 10,000 miles between UK/Australia each month, I have never been told to talk to the gate agents about my hearing.

I rarely self identify at the gate, however I tend to stick with airlines within oneWorld.

I rely on monitors displaying the flight information at the gates. I also usually ask in the lounge if there are any changes as information screens have been known to be incorrect.

However, if I am unfamiliar with an airline, I usually identify myself at the gates, though mainly for the boarding procedures can flummox me due to verbal instructions.
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Old Mar 19, 14, 10:22 pm
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Thanks all. I agree with touching base with the gate and staying tuned in on the monitors as self-defence, particularly the less familiar I am with the location/airline. I object to the airline assuming that if some people do that some time, it's all on each of us every time. Would be informative to continue to share good and not-so-good airline communication achievements here as the experiences come along.
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Old Mar 25, 14, 9:36 pm
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Originally Posted by flyquiet View Post
Would be informative to continue to share good and not-so-good airline communication achievements here as the experiences come along.
I agree it would be a good idea, but I imagine individual experiences will vary hugely even within the same airline - the old YMMV will apply.

Fortunately in over half a decade years of flying for work, most irrops were dealt with on a one-to-one basis, usually as my flying patterns can be unusual enough to not end up in a crowd of affected passengers waiting for instructions/compensation/accommodation/rebooking/whatever. That said, I'm still waiting for the irrop from hell that some FlyerTalkers talk about.

Unfortunately that means I have nothing much worthwhile to say about any particular airlines that may benefit others in this thread.
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Old Mar 27, 14, 6:35 pm
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American Airlines calls passengers "deaf and dumb"

ABC News item at this link:

http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headline...and-dumb-note/
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Old Mar 28, 14, 4:15 pm
  #69
 
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I'm not d/Deaf, but FWIW I have friends who are, and I have a disorder that causes episodic mutism, so I rely on ASL (or, with the signing impaired, writing) pretty frequently to communicate.

I've also done some ASL music & poetry interpretation videos on YouTube.

On the mutism vs airlines & TSA sides of things:
http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/check...sa-vs-ada.html
http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/pract...it-vs-tsa.html
http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/pract...screening.html

Last edited by saizai; Mar 28, 14 at 4:20 pm
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Old Apr 4, 14, 5:19 pm
  #70
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Originally Posted by flyquiet View Post
No, that's really not it. An employee of AA's contract baggage handler at IAH / Houston Bush International wrote ("“Please text, deaf and dumb”) a note on the couple's baggage, presumably in an attempt to be helpful and assure a text was sent instead of a telephone call made. Unfortunately, the company seems not to provide much in the way of customer service training or customer awareness as relates to disabilities.


(There's a smaller file, but it shows one of the people involved and I'd rather respect their privacy - even though they brought the issue to the media's attention.)

AA wrote back that they would investigate the situation and that they would alert their team at IAH.

“We apologize to Mr. Moehle and Ms. Huckaby. It was clearly a very poor choice of words. We’re confident there was no ill will, but we’ll be looking into this further and will be following up with our team members at IAH and the contractor that provides our baggage delivery services,” American Airlines said in a statement to the couple.
Neither Mr. James Moehler nor his mother were satisfied, and said they want more, “To me, it’s not enough. They have not satisfied me, nor have they, to my knowledge, satisfied my son either,” Mrs. Moehle said. “So far their messages have been dismissive. I want to hear something like ‘we take this seriously, we are investigating, and we will get back to you.”

I'm not an airline apologist, and believe they have written their own ticket. But in my longtime experience, AA has (at least in recent decades, once they stopped fighting the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other more recent Federal laws), been genuinely concerned about people with disabilities and of different groups who have been excluded.

Doesn't mean it has trickled down to every single employee, and we're all subject to stereotypes, but unfortunately some of the contracted baggage handling services have become notorious for surly service, and worse. (Like the recent exposure of Menzies' baggage employees at LAX, where a subset of those baggage handlers were pilfering and stealing whilst processing passengers' baggage behind the scenes).

For my deaf and hearing impaired friends with smartphones, I find some smartphone apps helpful:

FlightBoard (free) displays the flight display board with all flights, gates, displays etc. at nearly any airport you can name, and you can "shake and bake", er, sort, on any order from time to airline, flight number, gate number, etc. How convenient I never have to go search for the display - or if the nearest one has "gone south" and is no longer with us.

TripIt (free) - but I personally pay for and use the TripIt Pro version. It basically aggregates your travel details so you have one file you can look at with your times, flights, hotels, car rentals, everything, with numbers, details, etc.

How do you get all that in there? When your e-ticket, car rental, hotel, restaurant or event booking, etc. arrives in your e-mail, forward it to your TripIt account by e-mail and it seamlessly "assimilates" your information into the trip file for that specific trip. I can manually add stuff like appointments or edit any file. Awesome!

TripIt Pro adds details - including suggestions for which are the best seats, and if your flight cancels, alternate flights on your or all airlines, including detail about how many seats in each class are available. I can't tell you how helpful it is when I can point out to an agent "Flight xyz has three seats available; can you put me on that?"

But wait, there's more. Gate changes, cancellations, etc. get e-mailed to me. My phone is usually set on "vibrate" so I have a non-audible alert to look at and check what's going on - the usual is a cancellation, delay or gate change. I often know before my fellow passengers, and even the gate agent. Awesomer!

FlightStats: this has a free and "upgrade" version as well, and it can interface with your TripIt! I can see the flight stats for my flights, as well as weather and cancellation information for different airports, etc. I can actually see the TripIt flights (or any other I choose to enter) and get some information I can use - including airport weather and delay information.

FlightTracker: It's not necessary, but for the geekier among us, I can also use it to track the incoming flight that will be my departure. Sometimes I've had information far in advance of the gate agent.

WhatsApp is a good one for sharing texts, photos, even audio files, with others who have WhatsApp, without using your phones data plan. You can aggregate contacts - so I have friend and family groupings I can text simultaneously. It costs - $1.00 per year, unlimited text etc. No idea how they can do this, but I love it.

World Clock is indispensable if you travel or have people elsewhere.

xe currency calculator is great if you travel to different countries as well. On the fly currency calculations and the current market rate, you can vary amounts and currencies, even dig down for obscure currencies if you are heading to some little travelled destination. Free.

OK, I like miles, too! So...

Rewards Network operates several dining rewards programs. As an AA flyer, I use AAdvantage Dining. I can register credit cards, look up which restaurants in my vicinity (or where I am going), eat and earn miles seamlessly. If I register, 3 miles per dollar spent (including tip and taxes) and never have to tell anyone anything - ten days later, I've got miles (or hotel points, or whatever).

OpenTable: OK, the bad news is - no miles or points, just money! You can book a restaurant on OpenTable - and earn 100 to 1,000 points for dining. The big flaw here is they want two or more people. But, I'm usually with someone, so... when you earn 2,000 points, 5,000 points or 10,000 points, you claim your benefit: a cheque that works exactly as a Traveler's Cheque, worth $20, $50 or $100 shows up ~ten days later, and you spend it at any Open Table restaurant. (I notice the food always tastes a little better when I can use one of those cheques... )

If you don't travel frequently, the free apps are probably more than sufficient. If you do - TripIt Pro is my go to app, and FlightBoard, being free, is great for someone who may fly once a year even. If you are a road worrier, er, warrior, you know all about all of these - and may use something better.

No, I'm not traditionally hearing impaired - I have the opposite problem, hyperacusis. Even at seventy I can hear stuff others can't and sometimes normal sounds are sufficient to physically hurt; when I was younger I could hear "supersonic" dog whistles (always though people were lying when I was a kid) and "supersonic" intrusion alarms, etc. Well, that kind of brings us together, because you may spot me wearing ear plugs or "spuds" of beeswax in my ears whilst I am traveling - meaning I may not hear the garbled announcements, etc. so I use my apps more than most "normal" hearing people might. Some days are better than others, some sounds most people shrug off are literally intolerable. All part of the spectrum, I guess, we are all on.

Safe travels!

Last edited by JDiver; Apr 8, 14 at 9:17 pm
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Old Apr 7, 14, 6:54 am
  #71
 
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From the British Airways forums, this frequent flyer who practically lives on airplanes had this to say about boarding screens in context of Terminal 5 at London Heathrow and the US. Since most of you are in the US (I think), it might be useful information to know about boarding screens.

I have quoted with his permission. slightly edited.

Originally Posted by corporate-wage-slave View Post
... In the early days of T5 there were disconnects between gate and FIDs, though these now appear to be ironed out. At least T5 has gate information and FIDs plumbed into the same system, in many (most?) airports they are on 2 separate systems and rely on a human to get it right. T5 FIDs has some intelligence, so it will say - for example - boarding in 5A for a 5C flight, but say something different in 5C, namely go to gate. Also delays are detailed in the lounge FIDs but short ones are not mentioned on the public FIDs.

In many US airports the FIDs are bulk loaded in advance, it then goes on a timed script through the various stages, completely oblivious to what actually happens at the gate. That script can be interupted, if someone remembers to do it. But, and this is the killer point in the USA, very, very few passengers go to lounges on domestic flights. There is no reason for most passengers to be anywhere other than in the direct line of sight of the boarding gate. That's just how they do it over there.
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Old Apr 7, 14, 1:06 pm
  #72
 
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Do other deaf flyers ever get the sense that people think you need help and advice with basic things just because you're deaf? I get offered a lot of "helpful advice" (including here on FT) on account of being deaf that is really, really basic. (Including, literally, a seat-belt fastening tutorial on board the flight where I crossed 50K that year.) I don't fly as much as some of the real road warriors here, but I fly internationally all over the world on business multiple times a year, routinely take public transit in strange places, and a good portion of my work is in connection with tourism. Hearing people are always asking me for travel tips. My problem is not that I can't find a way around. My problem is that the barrier should not be there. I will continue to be resilient and find my way to where I need to be, but I'll be damned if I am going to accept that it's my duty to accommodate the barrier. Unfortunately, some people hear that as a "cry for help" and then we have that awkward moment when I am not as grateful as they would like me to be. Just me?
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Old Apr 7, 14, 6:28 pm
  #73
 
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Yes, I have noticed that on occasion. I don't fly often enough any more, so it's been quite a while. As for Flyertalk, there is the occasional poster who does that, but most treat me just like anyone else.
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Old Apr 7, 14, 10:46 pm
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Originally Posted by flyquiet View Post
Do other deaf flyers ever get the sense that people think you need help and advice with basic things just because you're deaf? I get offered a lot of "helpful advice" (including here on FT) on account of being deaf that is really, really basic. (Including, literally, a seat-belt fastening tutorial on board the flight where I crossed 50K that year.) I don't fly as much as some of the real road warriors here, but I fly internationally all over the world on business multiple times a year, routinely take public transit in strange places, and a good portion of my work is in connection with tourism. Hearing people are always asking me for travel tips. My problem is not that I can't find a way around. My problem is that the barrier should not be there. I will continue to be resilient and find my way to where I need to be, but I'll be damned if I am going to accept that it's my duty to accommodate the barrier. Unfortunately, some people hear that as a "cry for help" and then we have that awkward moment when I am not as grateful as they would like me to be. Just me?
Not particularly. I tend not to advertise it unless it really becomes an issue. Haven't had an issue on here, I mostly reside in the BA forums where folks seems to be reasonably intelligent.

Most of that awkward moments have been confined to mostly Asian airlines who go way OTT in my early days of travels when I was figuring out out different airlines worked. I may have not looked or acted entirely grateful, perhaps smiling through gritted teeth.

There was a slightly awkward moment a couple days ago when a purser who had recognised me from a flight the previous month, did an awkward hug on realising I am deaf. Not sure what to make of it, I was a bit like that straight-laced lady P L Travers in Saving Mr Banks (which I was watching at the time on the IFE).

Seat-belt fastening tutorial?
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Old Apr 8, 14, 10:50 am
  #75
 
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Originally Posted by Stez View Post

Seat-belt fastening tutorial?
No kidding. And the seat belt was already fastened at the time!

I've also been offered the Braille safety card.
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