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Flying Deaf

There are many scenarios in an airplane emergency where deafness would not be an issue. But what about these?

Smoke fills the cabin, you can’t see anything. You’re crouched on the floor or scrunched up between your seat and the back of the seat in front of you. How do you know when someone is screaming for people to start crawling to the back or the front of the airplane?

Again in a smoke filled cabin. You’re down on the floor, you’re disoriented and you don’t know which way to go. You start crawling to the rear, not knowing that things are worse back there. How do you hear screams telling you to go the other way?

You’re deaf, on the floor, in a blacked out cabin. You have a seriously wounded person next to you, unconscious. How do you call for help over the tumult that inevitably will be all around you? Screaming prolly won’t help – everyone will be doing that. How will you help this wounded person who wouldn’t die if only he could be given emergency care that you do not know how to give?

In an emergency situation where smoke renders all passengers blind, ears have to substitute. But if your ears aren’t working, you become a danger to yourself or even to others. If there is a no-fly policy for deaf people – which, btw, is unlikely because most airlines simply require that you have a hearing person flying with you – maybe we shouldn’t automatically think of it as being unjustly discriminatory or offensive.

And it’s not just about the deaf person either.

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Filed under: society, , , ,

9 Responses

  1. Jon Limjap says:

    So let’s just not let them fly, ganun lang kasimple yun?

    In the situation you described, not only are the deaf vulnerable: maski ang matatanda, pilay, at mga bata magiging sagabal at peligro din sa ibang pasahero. Siguro dapat pati sila hindi din paliparin?

    All planes now have lights lining the floor aisles, with arrows pointing to the direction of exits. These are designed precisely so that nobody has to be completely blinded.

    I couldn’t say you’re blind, but I could sense myopia here. Mayroon at mayroong mga paraang matatagpuan para lutasin ang mga problemang iyan. Deaf people aren’t dumb, and their definitely not physically incapable.

    We shouldn’t be so dumb ourselves not to recognize that.

  2. rom says:

    Jon:

    If there is a no-fly policy for deaf people – which, btw, is unlikely because most airlines simply require that you have a hearing person flying with you – maybe we shouldn’t automatically think of it as being unjustly discriminatory or offensive.

    So no. Not letting them fly at all is as stupid as it sounds. But they should be accompanied.

    In the situation you described, not only are the deaf vulnerable: maski ang matatanda, pilay, at mga bata magiging sagabal at peligro din sa ibang pasahero. Siguro dapat pati sila hindi din paliparin?

    The elderly, children, and the disabled can hear and follow instructions. Very young children who can hear but might not be able to comprehend verbal instructions are not allowed to fly alone. Is that discrimination as well? And besides, the elderly, children, and the disabled can still shout out their locations to whoever might be able to help? Some deaf people can’t.

    You’re right. Technology can be found to solve problems. Floor lights are one way. But floor lights simply light the aisle. I haven’t heard that they’re directional – going only in the direction of safety. Remember, not all exits are safe. That decision is typically left to the discretion of the flight attendant who then communicates this information – verbally – to everyone who can hear.

    Still, who knows? Maybe the next batch of airplanes made will have smart floor lights or something. But until then, i think the safety of the greater number should be a serious consideration alongside the sensibilities of the deaf.

  3. UP n grad says:

    The USA has a law — Air Carrier Access Act of 1986 (ACAA), and under this law : a US carrier can still deny access (or require the passenger to have an attending companion), e.g. when the disabled is on a stretcher, or when:
    • a person has a severe mobility impairment that prevents him or her from assisting in his or her own evacuation from the plane; or,
    ª a person has severe hearing and vision impairments that prevent him or her from communicating with airline personnel to receive safety information.

    http://www.pai-ca.org/pubs/538801.pdf

    Rom’s point-of-view hews closer to the US law.

  4. The Ca t says:

    In an emergency situation where smoke renders all passengers blind, ears have to substitute. But if your ears aren’t working, you become a danger to yourself or even to others. If there is a no-fly policy for deaf people – which, btw, is unlikely because most airlines simply require that you have a hearing person flying with you – maybe we shouldn’t automatically think of it as being unjustly discriminatory or offensive.

    The requirement of a hearing person for a group of dead people applies only to a group.

    No airline company would adopt the no-hearing-no fly policy.

    In the case Tiger Airlines in Australia which refused at first but allowed deaf passengers later but wrote them that next time they won’t be allowed anymore, found out that they have no written policy to that effect and blamed the crew staff and the call centers in the Philippines for dissiminating such wrong information.

    http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2008-04-11-2093242368_x.htm

  5. rom says:

    The Ca T: welcome to the smoking room.

    Like I said, not letting deaf people fly at all is as stupid as it sounds. So, yeah, I sincerely doubt any airline would adopt a no-hearing-no-flying policy.

    Still, as pointed out by UP n, carriers do have the right to refuse passengers if they are not accompanied. I think that right applies whether there is just one deaf person or a group.

    And I still think that calling this policy discriminatory or unfair is a stretch.

  6. baycas says:

    We are all temporarily able (as disability rights activists would like to refer to every able-bodied individuals). This serves as a reminder that we may, at some point, develop disabilities due to accidents, illnesses, or aging.

    Hearing impairment is one of the sensory disabilities. The impairment may be easily missed or be unrecognized by another individual without direct contact with the hearing-impaired one. Safety concerns inside an aircraft is of utmost importance and therefore disabled persons should declare their impairment way before the flight for necessary precautions and preparedness to be in place prior to travel. This will ensure a safe flight for everyone.

    Cebu Pacific Air (or possibly any other airline) is ready for the needed arrangements for those people who are incapacitated. I don’t know when the website was put up in the internet but presently these the company has to say:

    a. Cebu Pacific Air – It’s time everyone flies

    b. Online Help: Special Needs page –
    Do you offer assistance to elderly and handicapped guests?
    Yes. Please coordinate with our Call Center at (+632) 70-20-888 or (+6332) 230-8888 at least 3 days prior your departure date.

    I called up the Cebu Pacific’s number and I was told that a necessary form (the INCAD form) must be filled up and duly submitted days before the departure. A temporary able-bodied accompanying person is recommended (but not necessarily required) to join the handicapped guest of the carrier. In the occasion of a group travel for disabled persons (a case of a group of hearing-impaired individuals – this I particularly asked), the carrier requires one (1) able-bodied coordinator for every five (5) deaf individuals. Whether in single or group flight, the airline should be notified of travel by disabled person/s ahead of the departure time. Safety concern for everyone is the reason. The call center guy also mentioned that they have the right to refuse any disabled person if such requirements are not met prior to the flight.

    I certainly don’t know if this special arrangement was already in place during the Boracay flight cited in this blogpost.

    —–

    Our accessibility law (BP Blg. 334) and Republic Acts 7227 and 9442 protect the rights of the disabled. The ratification by the Senate of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities will surely strengthen these laws.

    —–

    Yes, a disabled may sometimes require an attendant. I hope, to be applied here in RP, the attendant’s or companion’s fare is free of charge…as America’s Air Carrier Access Act says so.

  7. baycas says:

    I’m sorry for the mistake above. The law numbers should be…

    Batas Pambansa 344:
    http://wallis.kezenfogva.iif.hu/eu_konyvtar/projektek/vocational_rehabilitiation/philippi/phi_rap/leg_4.htm

    and

    Republic Act 7277:
    http://www.chanrobles.com/republicactno7277.htm

  8. baycas says:

    Please consider this scenario: Deaf Softball Team Sick In The Airplane

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