Deaf Community Holds Rally about Video Remote Interpreting

Capsule and Sign Shares' LogosOn Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016, The Capsule Group, known as Capsule, along with Sign Shares, Inc./International, will sponsor a Houston rally for Deaf rights in partnership with the Houston Center for Independent Living, or HCIL.

The community-demand rally, “Deny VRI – Video Remote Interpreting,” will be held on Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016 from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. at the Houston City Hall.

The meeting will begin at 10 a.m. on the steps of Houston City Hall facing Hermann Square.

Map shows participants will meet at the intersection of McKinney St. and Smith St. at the Houston City Hall.
Once parked at the library, participants will meet at the section of City Hall that’s at the intersection of McKinney and Smith Streets.
Shows map of Houston library and how it's close to Houston's City Hall.
Rally participants can park at the Houston Public Library Central Library and walk from there to nearby City Hall.

Parking will be at Houston Public Library. Parking is on Lamar Street and is $2.00 an hour. Participants will meet at the library and march to City Hall.

The Houston City Hall is located at 901 Bagby St, Houston, TX 77002.

The rally concerns the Deaf, Hard-of-Hearing, and Deaf-Blind communities that experience barriers to proper language communications access by healthcare providers within medical based settings, with the improper use of Video Remote Interpreting, or VRI, rather than giving patients the right to choose the use of a live interpreter(s).

To view advocates who are Deaf sharing about the rally or to learn more details, visit the Capsule event page here.

Woman shows confused expression and captions read: "The Deaf person is completely confused."
Darla Connor, an advocate who’s Deaf, signs about the confusion a person with deafness has when they receive a Video Remote Interpreter at a medical appointment instead of a live interpreter.

“Now VRI…” Darla Connor, an advocate who is Deaf signed,”a Deaf person requests for a sign language interpreter and the doctor says, ‘Yeah, we will go ahead and provide that interpreter for you” and so they [the person who’s Deaf] says, ‘Fine, thank you.’ So the Deaf person is sitting there waiting and surprisingly what do they bring? A VRI screen, and the Deaf person is completely confused. Because they say, ‘I didn’t request for VRI.’ They didn’t clarify.”

Patients’ rights are being sidelined due to healthcare district budgets. Budgets should not jeopardize a person’s medical urgencies and well-being. This is a human rights’ issue and a violation of civil rights. VRI is being pushed upon the Deaf and Hard of Hearing communities.

CGLogo_Confetti_ROUNDEDThrough research held by The Capsule Group, known as Capsule, the group learned that people who are Deaf, Hard-of-Hearing, and Deaf-Blind, are not given their patient rights, or civil rights to be consulted about their preferences, options, or freedom to choose a video remote interpreter versus a live interpreter, since theirs is a 3D, gestural language.

Woman signs showing a small computer screen. Captions read, "Let me explain to you about that."
Dr. Angela Trahan signs about the VRI video screen, showing how it reduces the size of communication.

Dr. Angela K. Trahan, an advocate who’s Deaf, signed, “Now a long time ago, you used to have live interpreters and now we are being given the video screens. We don’t like that, but if we continue to accept that, that means maybe in the future, we won’t have any live interpreters.”

Man uses sign language for interpreter and captions read: "My friends said 'VRI Deny. We choose a live interpreter.' That's a great idea."
Deaf Advocate Robert Yost signs about the right to choose a live interpreter.

“They are oppressing me and they are not giving me my choice,” signed Deaf advocate Robert Yost, “and I am hoping all deaf people will complain about that word ‘reasonable.’ Remove that word and let’s add ‘choices.'”

Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act revisions that went into effect this past July affirm the obligation under the Title II regulation of the Americans with Disabilities Act “to give primary consideration to the choice of an aid or service requested by the individual with a disability.”

Sign Shares boat logo with blue handsSign Shares Inc. was the first sign language agency in the United States, four years before the American With Disabilities Act came into fruition. When the ADA arrived at the laws to be written around the Deaf and Hard of Hearing communities, they contacted Sign Shares Inc. to provide them guidance around these communities.

In 2016, Sign Shares reached their 30-year mark within the industry and after seeing the hardships, the denial, and injustices within the Deaf and Hard of Hearing communities, Eva Storey, President and CEO for Sign Shares Inc., founded Capsule, a cross-disability business with a mission to advocate, educate, and legislate on behalf of people of all disabilities to have unlimited access to resources and support needed to achieve life.

The CEO of Sign Shares and Capsule’s Founder, Eva Storey, said, “We have been interpreting for 30 years for Deaf and Hard of Hearing people. Now we are interpreting for the entire community’s voices.”

For more information or to reserve your space at the meeting, visit the Capsule Event page on Facebook.

Supreme Court: Deaf Texans Claim Agencies Can’t Deny Interpreters for Driver’s Ed.

Five individuals who are Deaf from four Texas cities allege they were denied sign language interpreters for driver’s education courses required by the Texas Education Agency and later by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation.

Person driving a car from a side angle
The Supreme Court prepares to hear a Texas case alleging that the Texas Education Agency is responsible for providing interpreters for driver’s education courses required by the state. photo credit: Late night drive (CA to TX road trip) via photopin (license)

The case has been in court twice.

Once, a U.S. District Judge ruled in favor of the individuals who were Deaf.

The case was appealed in the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, and the case was dismissed, “saying that driver education is not a service, program, or activity of the TEA,” according to the report.

The U.S. Supreme Court will now determine what is a service, program, or activity” as far as Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Title II doesn’t allow individuals with disabilities to be excluded from “services, programs, or activities of a public entity.” Public entities serve the public and includes government agencies, according to the report.

According to the report, “Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act includes similar language, prohibiting discrimination of the disabled in any ‘program or activity’ receiving federal funding.

Said the second court that dropped the case: “We hold that the mere fact that the driver education schools are heavily regulated and supervised by the TEA does not make these schools a ‘service, program, or activity’ of the TEA,’ the court’s opinion said,” according to the report.

Cars stopped at an intersection.
Are Texas drivers who are Deaf given the same opportunity to get the education required to drive as others? It all depends on how the court determine a few words from the ADA. photo credit: Cars via photopin (license)

According to a report from The Texas Tribune, “This has the potential to be a landmark decision for deaf rights and indeed for all disability rights,” said Wayne Krause Yang, legal director of the Texas Civil Rights Project, which represents the five plaintiffs who are Deaf.

A settlement case between the U.S. government and the Orange County Clerk of Courts in Florida had a similar situation. A man who was blind was denied screen reader- accessible documents he requested from court.

This was found to violate Title II of the ADA and though the Clerk of Courts didn’t agree that the discriminated, they agreed to a settlement with the U.S. government to avoid similar situations.

According to the settlement, even if the public entity contracted the services, they are responsible for not excluding people from activities because of their disability: “a public entity may not, directly or through contractual or other arrangements, utilize methods of administration that deny individuals with disabilities access to the public entity’s services, programs, and activities or that perpetuate the discrimination of another public entity, if both public entities are subject to common administrative control or are agencies of the same state.  28 C.F.R. § 35.130(b)(3).”

The original Texas case regarding denial of interpreters for driver’s education, Ivy v. Morath, took place in 2011 and continued a process through other courts.

This week, the Supreme Court decided to hear it.