INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — People who are deaf or hard of hearing are often are left out of conversations, but the implications of systemic racism impacts them just the same.
The Indiana Chapter of Black Deaf Advocates has been holding a series of virtual town halls. Organizers say it’s important to open up the conversation to people of all kinds and abilities in an overall effort to dismantle racism.
Protesters across the state and country are demanding social change. Some can hear it. But people who are hard of hearing or deaf moreso feel it. William Babineaux is the president of the Indiana Chapter of Black Deaf Advocates.
“We’ve been happy to see what’s been going on because there’s been so many things happening in the Black community that we feel like it’s time for us to speak up again and again and again,” Babineaux said through LUNA Language Services ASL interpreter Andy Rork.
Babineaux explained why his agency is taking added steps to ensure some of those who feel left out of the conversation about race have a voice. They are doing that through a series of virtual town halls, centered around conversations about Black Lives Matter and dismantling racism.
“It’s very important because often we are cast aside. Or marginalized. We feel like we should be equally included in the discussion,” said Babineaux and Rork.
Babineaux said as a Black deaf man, he faces additional challenges when interacting with police. He said he can pass notes with an officer if he gets pulled over.
“It can be aggravating to officers are frustrating and sometimes they may question whether or not I really am deaf,” they said.
He said it can be scary, knowing that the training isn’t always there for officers when it comes to interacting with people who are deaf. And he said it’s important for people to understand that deaf people often face more oppression because interpreting services aren’t always available.
The next virtual town hall is July 30.