Communication Service for the Deaf Addresses Workplace Inequality With "Let Us Work" Initiative

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Calls for Elimination of Unnecessary Hearing Restrictions for Pilots, Truck Drivers and Others; Petitions Federal Aviation Administration to Modernize

Many of these regulations are based on false assumptions about our capabilities, or ignore the liberating opportunities that technology has brought.

Communication Service for the Deaf (CSD) announced today its new "Let Us Work" initiative, a multi-faceted campaign designed to address workplace inequality for the Deaf community. A key element of this initiative is a petition calling for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to modernize its system and allow Deaf people to become commercial pilots.

"Let Us Work" highlights jobs such as commercial pilots, truck drivers and at least 15 others -- many federally regulated -- that require applicants to pass hearing tests as a condition of employment. The campaign will closely examine whether those tests are necessary or equitable today, and encourage public and federal action to eliminate them.

CSD, the largest global corporation led by Deaf professionals, has a long history of finding ways to make the workplace more equitable for Deaf people. Nearly 70% of Deaf people are currently unemployed or underemployed. Yet, some fields, like commercial piloting and truck driving, are experiencing significant worker shortages. All while there are many qualified Deaf people who are ready to work at these jobs. CSD’s "Let Us Work" wants to know: why are there regulations in place preventing Deaf people from doing so?

“Deaf people already know that we can do many more jobs than we are currently allowed to do,” said CSD CEO Christopher Soukup. “Many of these regulations are based on false assumptions about our capabilities, or ignore the liberating opportunities that technology has brought. How someone receives the information they need to do a job well, whether through sign language or English text, shouldn’t matter – just that they do their job well.”

Commercial airlines are experiencing a significant shortage of airline pilots, suffering a 30% decline in the past 30 years. There is a storied history of Deaf pilots, such as Rhulin Thomas, who flew coast to coast in 1947, and received a medal at the White House for his daring feat. Shortly after, he lost his license. Not because of anything he had done, but because new regulations were established requiring use of radio communications.

As a first step to address these inequities, CSD’s "Let Us Work" campaign will petition the FAA to consider which existing and emerging technologies can enable Deaf pilots to communicate with Air Traffic Control (ATC) without a voice connection. CSD also will urge the FAA to ensure that the design of NextGen, FAA’s initiative to modernize America’s air transportation system, allows pilots to communicate with ATC via data communications alone.

TDI and the Deaf Pilots Association are supporting the FAA petition and CSD invites the public to join. The FAA petition is available at change.org.

As part of "Let Us Work," CSD will be featuring several videos to showcase Deaf success, educate the public about this critically important issue, and ultimately, eliminate unnecessary restrictions for Deaf pilots, truckers and others. To date, CSD has identified more than 15 professions or organizations that enforce some hearing restrictions, including: the TSA, IRS, FBI, Coast Guard, railroad engineers, military, law enforcement, and firefighters.

“The Deaf community is full of talented people of every kind,” added Soukup. “We have many exceptionally skilled Deaf pilots barred from becoming commercial pilots, or flying anywhere that would require them to communicate with the ATC. This and other sorts of severe and unnecessary limitations are found across too many fields and industries. With this campaign, we will be showing what can change and how to change it.”

For more information please visit CSD and Let Us Work.

Media Contacts:

The Durkin Agency
Karen Durkin
karen.durkin(at)thedurkinagency.com
mobile: 386-451-4850

Brandi Rarus
Vice President, Public Relations, Engagement & Policy
Communication Service for the Deaf
brarus(at)csd.org

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Karen Durkin
The Durkin Agency LLC
+1 386-451-4850
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