Table of Contents
Deaf People and Fire Emergencies
Deaf People and Rape
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Deaf people are a very vulnerable group in society. We are faced with various problems and obstacles in our everyday performance of necessary activities. Emergency and special social issues are also a concern for our group. For emergencies, the occurrence of fires poses a big risk for deaf people, while traumatic violence such as rape is of equal concern.
The very core of these concerns stems from the importance of communication in relaying life-or-death information during emergencies and detailed evidence for deaf rape victims. Whereas for normal people, these are easily carried out in a routine manner through the bidirectional flow of information, the communication channel in deaf people has blocked in one direction and sometimes both ways. Therefore, there is a need to look closely at these special needs when drawing up and executing policies for the safety of the general public. In order to achieve this, specific needs of deaf people must be identified in each situation. This paper aims to provide these circumstances in order to give proper assessment and suggestions for the provision of adequate services for deaf people (Kuns 8; Taylor & Gaskin-Laniyan 24; USFA 1).
Deaf People and Fire Emergencies
People of all walks of life face emergencies in any period and location; so do deaf people. During fire emergencies, residents or occupants of a particular building or office are notified through sirens or fire alarms. These are to appropriately prepare and instruct concerned individuals about the emergency, to observe caution, and follow life-saving tips that were previously practiced for such situations (USFA , p. 19).
In order to escape or survive fire emergencies, the general public is instructed to do the following before even the occurrence of fire: to be aware of the nearest fire exits, to properly install smoke alarms and related equipment, plan and practice evacuation routes, and to consult with the fire department.
During fires, people are instructed to go out and stay away from burning infrastructures, test or observe doors before opening, crouch, and crawl and drop and roll in the event of catching fire.
While these instructions can be given to the general public in many media types and avenues, deaf people are often left out in such efforts. Specific media reminders are inadequate for the hearing impaired. Related educational programs are likewise in the same status as well as for the industry sector.
Although smoke alarms have been shown to save countless lives, conventional types are not necessarily effective for deaf and hearing-impaired people. In most residences or institutions for the deaf and hearing-impaired, mechanical and visual notifications are usually employed. However, these are only complementary tools and are not deemed to replace conventional alarms. Application of such devices must be a priority for residences with deaf or hearing impaired people. Strobe lights and vibrating gadgets are also being considered as additional tools for relaying signals for fire emergencies. Since they rely mainly on visual communication, signs, and instructions must also be highly visible to peruse during fire emergencies (USFA, p. 19).
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These infrastructure requirements are just the basics for ensuring the safety of deaf and hearing-impaired people; vital roles are also played by educators and fire department personnel. Deaf and hearing-impaired children usually receive education related to fire safety, and this must be maintained throughout adulthood, more importantly for aging individuals.
On the other hand, on the part of fire department personnel, training and seminars for facilitating education and evacuation or rescue of deaf and hearing-impaired people must be included in their programs. Knowledge of their particular needs will help firefighters and rescuers better handle situations involving deaf and hearing-impaired people who are innately capable of looking after their own safety, only that they are hampered by hearing limitations.
Deaf People and Rape
Rape on its own is a very despicable and traumatic crime for ordinary women; what more for deaf persons? Studies indicate that deaf people who are victims of rape are faced with unique problems. Just like in fire emergencies, deaf rape victims have communication barriers which are inhibitory factors for reporting such incidents and are, more importantly, crucial during healing and therapy (Taylor & Gaskin-Laniyan, p. 25).
In order for rape cases to be stopped and appropriate actions to be taken, there must be a valid report of such incidence. This implies a clear and coherent narration of the circumstances and details for the investigation to progress. There must be efficient communication on the part of the victim or relatives or witnesses.
Apart from not being able to effectively communicate experiences and thoughts about rape incidents, deaf rape victims are also isolated because of the shame and insecurity that comes with the disability. In addition to this is the lack of services specifically tasked for facilitating rape cases for deaf people.
There is also a lack of understanding of the deaf culture, which is very important in seeking help and solving such cases. There must be thorough studies on deaf people’s behavior and socialization which are integral in maintaining communication for social issues such as rape. Deaf people have unique linguistic characteristics that demand immense time for comprehension and internalization to be able to understand their behavior and culture. Deaf people also have unique ways of experiencing violence compared to the way hearing people experience violence. The trauma and stigma that are generated from these experiences may influence the victim’s reluctance to seek help (Taylor & Gaskin-Laniyan, p. 25).
With these needs, social and police institutions should be improved to cater to deaf people. This starts with the education of members of society on the impact and prevalence of violent crimes and ways to combat these social issues. Deaf communities should also be encouraged and fostered to have more involvement from other sectors of society. Police records and methods of gathering information should also have portions for deaf people, and appropriate steps should be in place to handle their cases. This implies the development of training and seminar programs for such personnel to be able to adequately answer deaf people’s needs.
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Above are just two of the pressing issues besetting deaf people. We are, like ordinary persons, capable of caring and looking after ourselves but in unique and sometimes limited ways because of communication barriers. If mechanisms are in place, we can accordingly react to emergencies and violence to preserve ourselves. We welcome innovative ways for fire notifications and instructions to suit our hearing needs. In terms of violence such as rape, it is important for institutions and the rest of the community to remember that we are a special group of people that requires deeper knowledge and understanding than most people do. In short, current services related to fire safety and violence are inadequate for deaf people like us, thus needing vital improvements.
Kuns, J. “Public Education,” Proceedings of the 1980 Conference on Life Safety and the Handicapped, National Bureau of Standards, NBS-GCR Series (Washington DC: GPO), 1981.
Taylor, L.R. and N. Gaskin-Laniyan. “Study Reveals Unique Issues Faced by Deaf Victims of Sexual Assault.” National Institute of Justice Journal No. 257.
United States Fire Administration. “Fire Risks for the Deaf or Hard of Hearing.” 1999. TriData Corporation.