If you live in Frederick, and have not met a deaf person yet, you will. The numbers of deaf residents is increasing every year for one reason: Maryland School for the Deaf. People are moving to Frederick because they either work there or send their children there, or both.
Based on my experiences as a deaf resident of Frederick, I am concerned about this beautiful, historical city and whether or not Frederick is truly deaf friendly. Because I have personally encountered difficulties and issues as a deaf Frederick resident, and many other deaf people have probably encountered similar problems, it is paramount for Frederick to focus on becoming more deaf friendly.
Why is this an issue at all? Because Frederick’s deaf residents pay taxes just as hearing residents do, and they are building lives in a city where they want to live. The city should support them in every way, from accessibility issues to workforce training and reasonable accommodations that are actually quite simple. If a person can do a job well, deaf or hearing, they should be accorded the respect they deserve, and that is beginning to happen in more cities all over the country on a daily basis.
This online column will focus on how Frederick can evolve into a city that provides for the needs of all residents, deaf or hearing. It is time for Frederick to become a deaf-friendly city.
I will share my experiences as well as those of other deaf Frederick residents in hopes that everyone will gain insights into what deaf residents deal with daily in a city, and largely, society that is geared toward hearing residents.
Consider this until my next column.
How do we start making Frederick a deaf-friendly city?
1. Acknowledge that Frederick has deaf residents.
2. Accept that you can co-exist with us. Deaf people are not asking for special treatment, and they are not trying to take over. Deaf residents are simply asking for acknowledgement and respect from the hearing population.
3. Learn American Sign Language, not only because it helps you communicate with us but also because it is a beautiful language.
4. Make a friend with a deaf person. Personally knowing a deaf person will open your eyes and expand your world. You may just formulate a different view of life and how to live it richly, joyfully, whether you are hearing or deaf.
Until next time...
Jennifer Harbaugh writes a regular column for fredericknewspost.com.