A transcript summary of each ASL video that provided feedback are below. Names have been removed to protect the privacy of those who submitted feedback.
Hello, I’m Deaf-blind. I always travel independently with my guide dog and when I cross the street they have signals for hearing people that are audible but there’s nothing for Deaf-blind people to cross the street safely. I want all districts – Vancouver, Surrey, Richmond, what have you – to set up something that is both tactile and vibrating so that Deaf-blind people can read the Braille of the street name and also feel the vibration. There are these spots in Richmond that they have and I would like the same thing throughout the lower mainland so that anybody who can’t hear and can’t see would have equal access in order to cross the street safely. Thank you.
Politicians in BC typically make announcements to the world about the quality of life that British Columbians enjoy and the access that they have. They have a beautiful outdoor environment and wonderful accessibility. However, there is one disadvantage that I would like to say more about and that’s transportation - whether that is the ferries, the bus depot, sky trains, what have you. Just in general, transportation. There are TVs that have auditory announcements that Deaf people can’t access that they can’t take advantage of the information. What happens is they end up following the crowd in order to go where they need to go. My recommendation is one way to improve this is through technology. It wouldn’t just be for Deaf people, but also for international folks who are visiting Vancouver. So for example, in BC Ferries, if you had a bubble with someone providing the announcement in sign language then everyone that Deaf people used transportation they would have access to the information. Captioning is good but the announcements that happen aren’t accessible. I would suggest adding technology that could interpret or present that announcement in sign language, that way they would know what is happening.
Hello, I would like to talk to you about when Deaf people get arrested. I think the law should change with regard to arresting and cuffing somebody behind the back because it presents communication and access to language. For hearing people they can communicate through spoken language but for Deaf people if they’re cuffed behind the back it’s very limiting and you may re-traumatize some Deaf people who have grown up in an oral approach to communication where they were told not to sign and it could cause them to be further agitated. If they were cuffed in the front that would allow them to communicate through writing or through an interpreter or what have you, but at least it would allow them to have some form of communication. If the person is violent or is having temper issues there could be some sort of waist chain attached to the cuffs that would still allow them to sign. I think this is very important to provide language access and therefore communications in ASL. If the Deaf person is unable to communicate through spoken language then we need to develop something, whether that be through the government or working with the police collaboratively or something like that. Thank you.
There are a number of different ministries under the BC government, whether that be health, education what have you. Often what happens is there is a barrier to Deaf people accessing interpreters because there is a discussion about which ministry is going to fund the interpretation services. I suggest that there be a central service or central agency that would be under government and there is a similar model in the Yukon. The Deaf community can call the central agency for an interpreter for any of their needs, 24/7 - if they want to meet with a real estate agent, if they’re interested in buying a car, any event that is happening in their lives. Often what happens here in BC is that people can’t access services because there is discussion about who is going to pay for the interpreter. If there is a centralized agency a person could go to the dentist, go to the theatre, go to a movie, anything that they wish to do. It would be a centralized place, interpreters could bill the government and it would be much more efficient and effective. In fact, often employers aren’t interested in hiring a Deaf person because there are so many things that they don’t know and they don’t know how to access an interpreter. If this was a centralized service employers would be willing to hire them for the interview process, for ongoing staff meeting, there wouldn’t be any concerns because they would be readily available and Deaf people would have the opportunity to be gainfully employed. Often, there are social issues like mental health issues that result from lack of employment. Those could be reduced by providing greater access. So we look at the cost of spending all the money for interpretation rather than spending the money for social services. It would be significantly less. Often people don’t know about Deaf people – their culture and their language – and they could contact a government agency to get that information. In school districts having to hire interpreters, rather than having them be responsible for the screening, the centralized agency could screen interpreters to find out whether or not they’re competent in order to do the job, and the school would simply contact the government agency and they would put the interpretation services in place rather than them having to do it themselves. So, one centralized agency would take care of all the interpretation needs for all Deaf British Columbians.
Hello everyone. I want to bring up this whole notion of celebrating Canada as being 150 years old and the pride we share in that. Deaf people have not shared in that pride. Deaf people have suffered for the last 150 years and it’s time now for that suffering to be removed and not to be perpetuated. We need to do it right away and remove the red tape. The government has ignored Deaf people for a number of years and we’ve had enough. It’s time for that to change. When we look at the history of Aboriginal people, they’ve been around for the last 100 years and Deaf people look to them and the sign language that they using. We developed our sign language and were left to learn in a way that was not natural through oral communication. That needs to change. First of all, doctors, psychologists, whomever, when a child is born and identified as being Deaf, they’re sent off without any support then find out years later that they’re deaf, there’s a significant language delay. They need to identify them right away as being deaf and expose them to sign language so that they can be on par with other children. Teachers also need to know sign language because if they don’t that will affect the child’s language. They should be fluent in ASL and not use their voice and tell Deaf children that they can’t sign. We’ve had enough of being told that we can’t do things. That needs to change. We need to grow and look forward to a better future for the next 150 years. Please.
I want the government to be more accountable when responding to any Deaf organization. For example, the Great Vancouver Association for the Deaf (GCAD) sent a letter to the Minister or Deputy Minister and did not receive any response. The polite thing to do would be to acknowledge receipt of the letter. Personally, I do not appreciate this lack of response and as such am suggesting that the government needs to be more accountable. Secondly, the provincial outreach program serves a number of different groups – Deaf, Deaf-blind, hearing, autism, etc. and these groups need funding in order to run their programs and also a mechanism that would empower these groups to check and see if school districts are adequately serving the needs of the specific populations they represent. I think these groups need support to make sure their government is more accountable. Specifically, there needs to be a way to ensure there is adequate and sufficient programming for Deaf children who use sign language. Thank you for your time.
Under the BC School Act, parents have the freedom to choose where their child attends school based on the district where they live. Parents of Deaf children do not have this same right to choose. They have to go through a lengthy process of approval through the provincial education review for Deaf students. This involves application to a committee who then meets to determine whether or not the child is approved to attend the school, and then there is discussion with the school district about whether or not they’re accepted. Contrast this lengthy process with the ease with which parents of hearing children enrol their child in school. Parents of Deaf children have to go through a cumbersome process of multiple levels of approval before their child can enter school. This is entirely unfair. Parents of Deaf children should have equal rights.
Hello. I’d like to talk about Deaf people in BC. I’m concerned about the Deaf people in the province because there are so many of them that are being mainstreamed and as a result they are very isolated. They don’t have access to sports, to learn about employment and they don’t really have access to education. I think we need to go back to educating Deaf children at the school for the Deaf. The School for the Deaf allows for collaboration within the Deaf community, mutual learning about life skill, employment, health, nutrition, opportunities for sport and feedback allowing for education and future job opportunities. I’m concerned about so many Deaf people that are lonely and isolated and barely making ends meet financially and they experience miscommunication with others. I want all Deaf people to have an opportunity to have a good future and an important part of that is having an education at the school.
With regards to education, the provincial education review committee for deaf students (PERCDS) has a lot of power and control over where Deaf and hard of hearing children go to school. I would like to suggest that parent’s need to make that decision, with consultation of course. For example, with my sons, both of whom are hearing, my wife and I decided we wanted them to go to French immersion school. All we had to do was fill out a form with our names, our address, emergency contact numbers, allergies, and what not, just a regular type of form. They entered kindergarten and are now in grades four and six. There was no type of diagnostic assessment or reams of forms that needed to be filled out in order for my children to go to school. However, that is how I felt as a child and when I think about it, PERCDS still has a lot of power. I think that maybe lessening the power may be one suggestion. I have a number of other ideas but the power that PERCDS has is the key thing that I wanted to emphasize.
Hello. I have a few points that I would like to share with you. The first is in regard to the different offices throughout BC – persons with disabilities, social assistance, MSP, etc. – all of these offices are in different locations. However, there is an office located in Burnaby that knows how to deal with Deaf people. Quite simply, they’re willing to get out a pen and paper and communicate or call an interpreter, and therefore communications happens smoothly. This does not happen in other locations such as Surrey. Staff are not willing to communicate through writing or rather than hire an interpreter they try to find a staff member who only knows basic signing. Nor do they even allow a Deaf person to make an appointment so they can arrange to have an interpreter for that appointment. My second point is in regard to access to walk-in clinics. As you know, you don’t need to make an appointment at a walk in clinic. However, Deaf people have tried to make an appointment so they can book an interpreter at a specific time and are told that they can’t do that. As you can imagine, interpreters aren’t readily available. If a Deaf person arrives at the clinic at 9 am and doesn’t get seen by a doctor until 11 or 12, you can’t expect an interpreter to be available throughout that entire time - they have other appointments to go to. If Deaf people were able to make appointments at walk in clinics, they could coordinate their appointment time with the interpreter’s schedule. It’s not a good use of resources and it’s not fair to other Deaf people for the interpreter to be held up waiting at the walk-in clinic. The third point I’d like to raise pertains to PERCDS. If parents, whether they’re Deaf or hearing, want to send their child to either the PCSD or to MSS, they have to go through PERCDS in order to do so. My oldest son is 17 and he attends the high school at Burnaby South. My other son, who is the third of four children and is hard of hearing – he uses a hearing aid and can talk and sign fluently. He, however, is not allowed to attend PCSD as they say he is not Deaf enough even though he uses a hearing aid. He functions well in both languages and I think he and his parents should be given the opportunity to choose where he goes to school. As a parent I would like to be able to decide where my son goes to school, and I don’t think that decision should be based on his degree of hearing loss. I want my child to have the opportunity to communicate freely in whichever language he chooses – English or sign language. I don’t want him or me to be forced to make a decision to send him to public school based on his hearing loss. He currently struggles at school in an inclusive education environment and I wonder if he might not have that same difficulty at PCSD. I would like to see PERCDS change their policy so that choice of school does not depend on the child’s hearing loss. Parents and children should be able to follow their hearts desire when it comes to educational placement. Thank you.
Hello. First of all I would like to say thank you for hosting this evening and providing this very important opportunity to consult on the white paper. A lot of ideas have been generated and valuable dialogue has occurred and I’m sure it will be quite a task to go through and analyze all of the information. There are a number of interesting points that have been raised and I would like to add a brief comment. The bottom line is that in order to maximize the impact on a number of different levels, we have to start with the education system. In fact, even prior to children entering the education system the focus needs to be on ensuring language acquisition for children from birth. The foundation of education is language, and it is through language that Deaf and hard of hearing people can access the education system. Having access to education then in turn leads to benefits such as employment and socialization to name a few. With regard to education I believe the key is going back to the model where children are educated at the school for the Deaf. Children learn from having access to role models, from socializing within the Deaf community and from using sign language regardless of if they are Deaf or hard of hearing. And this needs to happen, can happen, at the school for the Deaf. Within the current model of education children are isolated in public schools. We need to bring those children back to the school for the Deaf and that will have a significant impact on many levels. As I mentioned, having this opportunity this evening has been great but don’t just talk the talk - documenting all this discussion that has happened this evening and then putting it on a shelf to gather dust is not enough. It’s time to take action – walk the walk, don’t just talk the talk. Thank you.
Video # 12
I have two things I want to say. The first is about Aboriginal people, First Nations people, and the need to hire interpreters for them. And the reason for this is I draw on my own experience of growing up, when interpreters were hired for specific events – church services, funerals, potlatches, weddings, and special naming or gifting ceremonies for potlatches. Please acknowledge the needs of First Nations peoples. Please. The second thing is about hiring an interpreter who is Aboriginal. It’s very interesting because we would then have a shared understanding about our heritage, there’s also an understanding of Deaf culture. It’s the best of both worlds. There’s mutual respect and that’s important. Please listen to my people, who first walked this land. They were the first here.
Video # 13
Hello. I would like to comment specifically about access for Deaf, Deaf-blind and hard of hearing citizens. There is a noticeable gap in the government’s awareness of how their information is shared – it’s not completely accessible. For instance, the website is not accessible, nor is information about how to contact or meet with an MLA or a member of their staff and coordinate an interpreter for that meeting. Frankly, this is not acceptable and it needs to change so there is more general awareness. We know that Deaf people are small in numbers but that does not mean that they have any less value than anyone else. We are a “high needs” population but I prefer to think of us as having unique or different needs. We shouldn’t be labeled as people with disability, rather we are people with different skills and abilities and a different knowledge and awareness of culture. I’ve noticed that many people who come from other cultures don’t have a full understanding of ASL or Deaf culture and there are no classes for them to learn about the language and culture. I think the government has a role to play in providing more programs for deaf immigrants, programs that teach sign language, English literacy skills, job skills, etc. so please consider that population of Deaf people in the future plans. And lastly, don’t just make promises, make plans for action.
Video # 14
I have a few comments I would like to share with you. First, I think there is a need to establish a language policy. By that, I mean that Deaf British Columbians want the government to recognize American Sign Language (ASL) as an official language. Secondly, that the government establish a language planning committee that would be reviewed every five years. This committee would explore a status plan, an attitude plan, an acquisition plan, and a corpus plan. Each of these committee strands would work towards establishing a standardized language plan for B.C. that would include students that attend the school for the Deaf and students who are integrated. Regardless of language mode – sign language, oral, hard of hearing – I suggest a standardized curriculum, which would also lead into post-secondary education. My third suggestion is to establish a Deaf seniors centre – a facility that would be both residential and recreational that would allow Deaf seniors the opportunity to socialize with each other. The centre should employ Deaf people who use sign language in order to communicate with the residents. My fourth suggestion is that the government provides funding to establish a Deaf centre that would house a variety of different programs and services. A lump sum of money could be given to the centre, who would, in turn, allocate the funding to the different programs and services which I think would be more effective that giving each program a small amount of funds.
Video # 15
Hello. Tonight, during the discussion summaries, there was mention of the BC Disability Act. I was astounded to learn that this Act was put in place 20 years ago. Apparently it is not that well-known. I suggest going back to the Act to review it, with the involvement of Deaf, hard of hearing and Deaf-blind individuals, towards developing equal lifestyles for all British Columbians with regard to employment. By doing so, barriers will be decreased and access will be increased. I believe reviewing the Act would be a good start. Throughout the evening, the issue of the shortage of sign language interpreters was a common theme, and it’s true. That has been my experience as well. The folks involved with the white paper are aware of this shortage so maybe it’s time for the BC government to increase advanced education training throughout the province. Another common theme that arose this evening pertains to the education system. I suggest the Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation work collaboratively with the Ministry of Education to improve Deaf education throughout the province, from early years to post-secondary. There is a wonderfully diverse representation of people here this evening – seniors, Deaf-blind people, immigrants, youth – all contributing to this discussion. I hope that the white paper consultation process will pay attention to issues that are pertinent to this diverse group of Deaf, hard of hearing and Deaf-blind people. I look forward to the results of this consultation over the next several months.
Video # 16
There are a number of issues that have been discussed this evening, and I would like to draw attention to one specific issue – what should be done when a baby is identified as being Deaf or hard of hearing? I suggest that the child be exposed to both ASL and English. Having access to both languages throughout childhood allows the child to make the decision about which language is best. If he or she chooses to use English and communicate orally, that’s perfectly fine. Or if he or she chooses to use sign language, that’s fine as well. Families should support their child using both languages, giving them the right to choose. This allows the child to feel good about themselves and when the child feels strong and confident, his or her peer group also has that same sense of strength which will serve them well throughout their educational experience. One of the issues we discussed tonight was the challenge with government services not being centralized. It would be great to have everything in a central location. One place where Deaf people could come to access government services, whether that be for income tax, access, or any number of different services. And also having a Deaf person, who uses sign language, to be able to assist Deaf people in directing them to the right office would be helpful. The services would be something that a child could access from an early age and use throughout his or her life, ultimately removing barriers and opening up doors. By removing barriers, the child will be successful and reach their full potential. That success then leads to future employment opportunities. Now granted, that means working with people who can hear who might be a bit resistant to having a Deaf person but Deaf people are equally smart and they have the skills to offer but often there are barriers to employment. Maybe the government needs to offer a tax incentive to businesses so they would be more willing to provide employment opportunities to Deaf people. Employment for Deaf and hard of hearing and Deaf-blind people means that they can earn a living and they become tax paying citizens. The more people who pay taxes, the better the economic growth. And it’s not only contributing to the tax base, it’s also that Deaf people who are employed also become consumers who contribute to the economy by purchasing real estate and spending money on leisure activities and daily living. Without employment opportunities, Deaf people will rely on social assistance, earning only 700-800 dollars/month, meaning they can’t afford to invest in the economy. Politicians love to talk about economic growth. Deaf people can help with that economic growth if they are given the opportunity.