Pre-Deaf Protest Meeting – Tuesday 9th

Tonight I had the opportunity to attend the pre-protest meeting at Memorial City Mall. The meeting finally started after a few minutes delay due to waiting for more Deaf/Hard of Hearing individuals to show up. There were approximately around 15 Deaf/Hard of Hearing individuals.

There were diverse individuals from different background, some were Deaf and Hard of Hearing, some had a strong conviction to protest and some were not sure of what was going on. Neverthless, Brian Determan, one of the co-founders of the Deaf Right Protest (the title of the protest has not been clarified) took the floor and explained the issue of why we should need to protest.

Several issues were brought up.  Some stated that it was a long struggle for the Deaf/Hard of Hearing individuals to gain access to interpreters and the city did not fullfill the needs of Deaf individuals. He said that he met with the city and the city coordinator said that there was not much Deaf awareness and did not know how to provide the support for the Deaf community.

Brian said that he has exhausted all channels with the city including meeting with the County Judge which he mentioned it was a woman, (it is Judge Ed Emmett), contacted with the Mayor Bill White, etc. He also mentioned that they (the co-founders) have contacted the Houston Police Department and came to the conclusion that there was no support for the Deaf/Hard of Hearing individuals through HPD. He has mentioned that he contacted James Solboda of the HPD and spoke with him. That gave a strong conviction that they have tried all means of contact and came with no solution. Hence, the main reason to have the protest on June 16th.

After Brian’s explaination, other Deaf/HOH individuals came up and explained their case. One said he became frustrated when he called ahead to request an interpreter and once he showed up in court, there were no interpreter present. He requested to reschedule the court case and asked for an interpreter, the next time again there was no interpreter available. He felt that he had no choice but to communicate through pen and paper. In the process, he felt lost and was unsure of what to do.

Another said that in the past he had problems with calling an non-emergency 911 call and requested an officer to have an interpreter with him present. Once the officer showed up and  the compliant found that they did not bother to have an interpreter. Then when the second time he had to make a non-emergency 911 call, they did not send an interpreter. He said that it was difficult and frustrating so he felt that the time is now to protest and try to deliver the message across.

There were more people who expressed their frustrations and concerns of the lack of access that the city of Houston is not meeting the needs of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals.

After all is said and done, I decided to get up and press Brian further to ask him a series of questions relating to the protest. I asked him, “Who is representing the protest, who is the spokesperson?” Brian said, “It is me that will be the spokesperson because I know and understand everyone’s situation and what should be done.” Brian explained that he has seen many cases and realized that it became overwhelming that gave away to the fact that it was enough that the city was not doing anything. The only best possible solution would be is to have a protest/march on June 16th to “wake up” the city council and explain the case to them. Hopefully, the result is that they become more aware of the issue and Brian said that he knows it will be a long process. It will be an effort to get the message cross and felt that this is the best way to go.

Previously earlier, when I asked Brian what he does and he said that he works as an advocate with the office of Deaf/Hard of Hearing services. I felt that it was a conflict of interest since he himself leads the protest and is a spokesperson as well. When I told him that I was concerned about the conflict of interest in terms of public relations and the media’s perspective since it might look like a one man march. Brian said that he is willing to have a neutral person that would be in the best position to be the spokesperson for the protest/march. That has yet to be determined on who is the spokesperson and I was asked to be their spokesperson on the spot.  However, I felt that it was inappropriate because there was no proper voting from the members in the meeting. You cannot just select a member out of the blue but in order to have a spokesperson with a strong backing of the members, you have to have a voting prodecure. I also explained that being a spokesperson is a huge responsibility and it would be a person who truly understands everyone’s concern and be aware of the real issue at hand. I think they should have done an voting prodecure but with the protest date nearing, it would not be enough time in my opinion.  Again, this is not an organization.

When I asked Brian on what  the plan was after the  protest? “Do you have an agenda in place?” He said that he hopes to get the message across through the protest with the city council and eventually start from there. One of the member, Don, has said that we need the protest because it was “long overdue” and that for many years there were problems after problems.

It seems to me that there were some members who are still unsure of whether we should be having a protest and there were other members who are ready for it. When one of the member in the audience asked that if everyone was ready for the protest, Brian said that there are more people who has not showed up in the meeting and those are the people who were ready to protest, there are more “numbers”. I got up in front of the audience and told the members in the audience that “numbers” do not mean a thing. It does not matter if you have a LARGE protest or a small one. What matters the most is the message you are trying to get across, that you have exhausted all channels, and you have no options but to protest.

The meeting took more than 2 hours at length and since the mall was closing at 9, many members felt that there should be more time and Brian suggested that there should be another meeting before the protest. Some of the members agreed to have another meeting and some members have expressed to postpone the protest outright.

In my opinion, I felt that there are more to be done and remain exclusive to the idea that there are more channels to go through such as contacting Judge Ed Emmett, etc. There are other options such as establishing an organization such as Houston Association of the Deaf to provide a strong establishment within the Houston community. We need to have a multi-pronged approach and a better plan of attack. We need to have a more democratic form of ideas and vote on it on which is the best agenda to follow through. It cannot just be the co-founders’  ideas and expressions but requires a community of whole.

First thing I would like to see from the founder and co-founder is a blog that explains EVERYTHING in detail of the plan, agenda, why, etc. That way we as a Deaf community can be better informed and have more meeting with the members of the Deaf/Hard of Hearing community. I understand that Brian has mentioned that there has been a meeting prior to establishing the protest but the question is, if several members of the Deaf community is not aware of the issue or a meeting that took place then what good would it do for the protest?

Second, I would like to see an establishment of an organization and have that organization to be a representation of the Deaf/Hard of Hearing community then eventually lead the protest. I would like to see a more organized form of structure and prodecures that provides an establishment of electing a spokesperson, leader, etc.

That is why I asked to delay the protest to another date, but if the protest is to continue then at least change the message from complaining that there is a lack of access within the Houston community to a better message of establishing a Deaf representative with the mayor’s office (the city council can vote on that, so why not ask?) If the city council refuses to vote on having a Deaf representation, then it would be a stronger conviction for the Deaf community to say that city council is discriminating  the representation of having a minority voice within the city council and the mayor’s office. It would look better for us through the media and the public but of course, that is just my opinion.

However, the good news is that there will be another meeting on Monday and I am hoping more people will show up and voice their concerns on whether they are supporting the protest or not. Maybe provide a better ideas and options that could lead to better result.

As soon as I find out more about the meeting on Monday I will post!

Feel free to express your concerns in the comment box below and remember, “Rome was not built in a day”

Note – this is solely my opinion and does not represent the opinions of the writers/owner of the dphhh.com

About Bradley Porche

Bradley Porche is a High School Teacher for the Deaf at Clear Creek ISD. He is also a professor at Houston Community College and a Deaf Activist. You can see his website at http://porchedaily.typepad.com/porche-daily/ or follow him on Twitter @porcheb .

14 responses to “Pre-Deaf Protest Meeting – Tuesday 9th”

  1. Rahim says:

    hey i agree with you…i want more dicuss i was like closing 9 and i was pissed bec i want to dicuss about deaf and you know i told the man thats i pissedd off about no movie for captions and i told them i want to AMC24 or whatever area TEXAS and i say i want to movie CAptions because i need to learn how learn for my brain

  2. Rahim says:

    the man told me that next monday or tuesday why because someone have a busy and they say if no busy and will be there in deaf meeting but if have still busy on monday then will be there on tuesday

  3. Shoaib says:

    Hey
    First time, i went to Food court. i do not know that WOW. I felt want more hard dicuss deaf a group and i like it because i am deaf too. So, before my about happen? The man police catched with me. He was speaking with me. i did not understand to him what did he say? myself wrote show him What did i say? i should ask to my brother for interpreter then he said NO! it was need sign up the ticket right now! i was mad at him! He did not listen to me. why did not he understand what did i say? huh and then he said if you can’t sign up the ticket then i will catch with you go to jail! i said ok fine partient because First time, i was fear and allow sign up the ticket. i got the ticket.
    On April 30, i went to court but before, i did call to office about it should bring interpreter help for me plan appiontment. The court said do not worry i had seem many deaf people go to them. i said Oh i do not know that First time. thank you But the court not have interpreter them! and the man police did not appear at court nothing! myself wrote show court but The court said again appiontment me few a day and again i did call to court about appiontment interpreter help for me but Again not them!!!! nothing i was there doing quite the court said dismissed for me piont. Go to home? but i wish want setting plan interpreter appear them etc!

  4. Maria. G says:

    I’m very new to comment about pre-protest also pardon me if I may be awkward.

    Anyway,I attended to meeting of “pre-protest”. For what I saw what was about by not serve the imterpreter since City of Houston not fullfill for theirs needed. To me, why can’t deaf people do them self by telling them they really do needed interpeter no matter what if it took forever to get one. For non or emergency, if they didn’t get the request for what they wish for, why can least file complain to head of HPD? it made sound easy for me to type it, but I do know it will take a LONG progress.

    Other than that, I spoke to Brain and said “I will rather postpone the date instead June the 16. Why, because once I was there people wasn’t ready for protest and also last minute, too. But Brain said other deaf people were ready and also been doing the meeting since May 6 or 16 of this year. Ok, I don’t know how many deaf people out there are ready for the protest, but do you think a month of May till June 16 is enough for you? To me, it too early. Even though, I know it’s long over due for what Brain said. Because he got many deaf complains for not get an interprerter for their needed.

    Also, I didn’t realize till he said “Who is representing the protest, who is the spokesperson?” Brain said it will be me. Since he know what going on. I felt the pre-protest not strong enough yet, *no offense*

    All I’m saying it will be better off to discuss more and same time to get all the information, too and yes, there will be other meeting on Monday. Location and time? I do not know when or where is will be.

  5. AJM says:

    Brian is actually under contract from the Tx Dept of Assistive Rehab Services under the Division of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services. He’s paid to be an advocate. It’s his job.

    Houston, out of all major regions in Texas has the most advocacy and legal issues associated with infringement of deaf rights and ADA. This has been confirmed with the amount of logged cases and work that attorneys from Advocacy Inc as well as the DHHS advocates have done.

    Basically, from what I understand, the issue of Houston not upholding the DOJ settlement from a couple years ago is because the City has not seen a visible need for services. This is what the protest is trying to bring – a face to a disability.

  6. Julie Reese says:

    Whoa – lots of information here….

    But we have to remember to give Brian more credit because he’s been working in Houston for at least 15 years (at Montrose Clinic and other places). I took an ADA advocacy workshop in Austin and Brian was my partner in many of the activities we did. I go to Brian or Detra whenever I need help with addressing ADA issues for my clients. I’ve seen deaf clients get. denied interpreters even at Department of Public Safety to take written exams for a driver license. I’ve also seen one case where an employer abused a deaf client and we had to report that to the Dept of Labor. I can’t imagine what Brian sees everyday. This is actually his field of expertise and I believe he is well qualified to become a spokesperson to make sure that the City of Houston and Houston Police Department uphold their part after what the DOJ settlements had ordered.

    All I ask is for the Protester Organizers to post as much information on their website to make sure we all understand what is going on. Some of us were not even here when the two Deaf Houstonions won the lawsuits against City of Houston so we need a re-education. Most of the city administrator positions may have been replaced by new people now so they’re clueless. Education is what we need.

    Thank you, Brad for keeping us in the loop!

  7. jncutt says:

    Good Morning! If you have seen my posting on Bradley’s face book memo yesterday, please go there and read. If you are not able to view it or not involved with face book, perhaps Bradley can cut and paste it unto this memo. To be clear here, I have been there, seen it and done that. In the past, I have been involved in all sorts of advocacy roles including the Houston Astros. Annually at that time I have been on TAD Board, RTAC (Relay Texas Advisory Commission) and was heavy involved in NACH (NTID Alumni Chapter of Greater Houston) leadership roles. During the Deaf Awareness time, every organization within our areas has something to educate the Communities. NACH was involved by encouraging the Houston Astros to recognize Deaf Awareness. I even had Channel 11 involved to broadcast it. We even gave Channel 11 an award for their involvement in being supportive by improving the Close Caption on their news. We had the newscasters to do signs without voice at the conclusion of their news. Having DAW is great to educate the counties our culture. It should still be an on going thing however it fell dead for some reason I have no clue why it collapsed after I no longer was involved with NACH. Having DAW does not help the City/State/Government‘s attention to our American with Disabilities Act (ADA) or accommodation needs. You need an ORGANIZATION that can be recognized and can represent us. From my standpoint, Texas Association of the Deaf is the proper organization that needs to assist us. Their job is to listen to our issues that we are challenged or facing in front of us. They in turn can contact these City Administrations to work with us.

    Why TAD? In Austin, the Legislature branches are very aware of TAD meaning of being represented by the State of Texas deaf/hh members and their affiliated with National Association of the Deaf (NAD). If all else fails, TAD can contact NAD for assists. NAD then can get involved and if problem persists, then NAD can get in touch with their Advocacy Law Center and contact FCC, Dept. of Justice (DOJ), Congress, etc. on issues that described best. Government, States and Cities levels throughout are much aware of NAD representing nationwide to the communities. Every nation level has their organizations (NAACP, NALAC, etc.) That is why I think TAD is the Organization that should represent us. By their rules, you have to be a member to join in. Sadly, I have not renewed my membership ever since because TAD has not yet impacted me to assist areas needs regardless of problems arisen to date. This is my own view and I will join when I see it will be “There” for us. Houston is the 3rd largest City in the United States and yet it’s sad we do not have a great role organization meeting our needs. However, this weekend in San Antonio there is a TAD Conference. Hopefully the new Officers taking place will wake up and give us strong directions in helping us. Send a letter, voice your message to them right away and let see if action will take place.

    On the other hand, there is a Mayor’s Office of the Disabilities you can bring attention to. But take my word; they are not there for us. We in the past reported, complained and then they took no action. It has been somewhat moot. What is the point going there if they are not THERE for us regardless they do reflect our needed attention? Their old habit today from the City of Houston as well in the past kept bringing their favorite word, “We have not heard any complaint from the Deaf Community”. I can state this for a mere fact. I was there, period. I voiced my inputs but their statement is full of baloney! Tell me when was the last time a MAYOR proclaimed Deaf Awareness Day via broadcast, media and newspaper? Only one I can name was the former honorable Kathy Whitmire. Afterwards, the rest of the Mayor has not. What does that tell you! Again, I have seen it, been there and know it all…

    In final, you may disagree what I stated above, again you are entitled to your own political view opinion. But from my political standpoint and knowledge, it is the proper thing to do.
    Do the best you can and represent us well.
    Thanks!

  8. Nabeel says:

    Hmm… this is interesting, and also puzzling to me. I’ve never had a problem getting an interpreter for work here in Houston. They always came through. Who is Brian asking to provide interpreters?

  9. MC says:

    I praise Brian Determan for bringing attention to the urgent issues that is affecting our deaf community. In my field of work, I’ve seen a lot of unfortunate cases where deaf and hard of hearing individuals were denied by HPD, DOJ and City of Houston to provide an interpreter. After all, WE ARE TAXPAYERS and should not be deprived of our rights! I wholeheartedly support the protest to wake up the general public of our needs to have City of Houston, HPD and DOJ to provide equal opportunities for deaf and hard of hearing individuals just like any other citizens. We do not need to be continually treated as if we are 2nd citizen.

    Last night, I had the opportunity to hear community concerns of the direction this protest is heading. Many expressed the concerns of not having much access to the information to read more about the the true purpose of the protest is all about.

    Brian was the only one of the founders that showed up. He had stated that Detra was supposed to show up to provide WHY we should join them in the protest. Don’t get me wrong, I applaud Brian for organizing this protest in best interests of Deaf community. However, I cannot say much about Detra. Say a lot about the organization structure of this protest! I mean…what kind of message is that?

    We were very impressed with everyone who showed up last night and be supportive of the message of the protest but I believe we need to have some time to re-organize the structure of this protest to make lasting impact to City of Houston to show that we are here and demand for them to honor the agreement between DOJ and NAD to afford us the most cherished rights–communication accessiblity. Orginally, I was all for the protest to take place next week but seeing that Detra did not show up last night and showed lack of true leadership had changed my mind. We need to postpone this protest at least for temporarily.

    On the last note, I think it is time for us to get Houston Association for Deaf back up running again but this time, to provide strong advocacy and give the voice for our community!

  10. a Deaf Voice says:

    IT IS NOW TIME FOR TAD (TEXAS ASSOCIATION OF THE DEAF) AND NAD (NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF THE DEAF) TO STEP IN AND HELP HOUSTON DEAF COMMUNITY SET UP AN ASSOCIATION FOR THE DEAF OR HOUSTON DEAF CENTER!!!

  11. Freddy says:

    I will heard them about protest. If you feel decision dicuss group in Houston Community. I think many people will ready an information and happend of protest for American with Diabilies Act (ADA). Everyone need bring to interpreter and they are supporting protest with meeting o next Monday.Oh I dont know and people get planning and set up time of the Houston Deaf Community. It is good deaf people support of chance anything details in the other state in USA. I agree with them. Because they want to NAD to teach and learning how thing on list from Washington D.C. I think you will be dicuss with deaf people about new protest.They need help an important of ADA and bring interpereter to them. Deaf/ hard of hearing know get improvement by caption closed in the television, movie, and computer.

  12. DeafCitizen says:

    Needless to say, this protest was not well planned. Why? Because I spoke to several East Coast friends of mine today. They pretty much know what’s going on in the deaf communities across the country. This protest was unheard of until TODAY. They asked: Was NAD aware of this protest? Was Ryan Commerson aware of this protest? What recently happened?

    What occurred RECENTLY to spark the fire under this so-called protest? I can understand it happening soon after the unfortunate incident with Gordon and Edwards. Where’s the information? Where’s the noise?

    As we already know, the media loves negativity like Oprah loves her burgers so therefore, we want to avoid the media for NOW . I’m not trying to rain on anyone’s parade here- but the way this protest is currently planned- yall are better off going to a city council meeting and voice your opinions or concerns. They’ve had several successful cases using that approach.

    I’ll be blunt- this is a poor organization. But a good START. I’d keep working on it til the foundation is SOLID and “media ready”. EVERY deaf individual should know about this for this to be a “big deal”- then once that mission is accomplished- you may present yourself in the city ready to face the media without putting your feet in your mouths. Why the media? Because the city depends on it, unfortunately.

    I commend everyone for standing up for themselves. Best of Luck.

  13. jncutt says:

    I must agree with DeafCitzen. There is no known named Organization in Houston to reflect our grievances to the City of Houston. Like I stated TAD is the proper thing to do for the time being and like they can take on and help us out and then can be in touch with the NAD should the City refuse to abide our request. To rally our complaint to the City Council members, an organization need to be created and a respectable leader can be our ‘Chief” to represent us. This Chief that will lead us need or has to be aware of all knowledge into giving answer pertaining to current laws adopted by ADA, FCC, Texas Vernon Code, etc. in case one of the council questions the “Chief” Thanks!

  14. Billy Koch says:

    Thank you this is what I have been arguing about. This needs to change – I am currently going to be looking into trying to establish an organization with YOUR voice to help and lead to better quality living for the Deaf Houston citizens. Keep an eye on DPHHH.com for further posting – as of now there has been a meeting for resources – but not sure of what their goals and objectives are. But I will confer with them first before stepping forward. Action will be taken within the next couple weeks – on a Saturday. Keep your eyes peeled.

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