Are you willing to really support the Deaf community? (The question isn’t a taunt – it’s almost hopeful, and honestly meant). Thus far you’ve been willing to take on Deaf people representing you. Now you’re looking for Deaf youth to represent you internationally. Both of these I think are great things. Now, I’d like you to take the next step.
Starkey, how many Deaf people work for you in your corporation (speaking, signing, or otherwise)? How many Deaf organizations do you link to on your website? Are you willing to increase both numbers?
Are you willing to open up about the answers to these questions – and maybe make some changes? Especially in light of recent research showing how many Deaf adults find their quality of life improved by having both sign language AND hearing assistance? (You mean we can both have a casual conversation AND hear something when we’re going to be hit by an oncoming car? Priceless.) I think it’s silly to deny we benefit from hearing technology – but it’s equally silly to deny that we don’t benefit from a multilingual environment and education. It just makes a good thing better; when the tech works we still have language, and when the batteries die – we still have language.
It’s one thing to do a drive by and drop some hearing aids off for needy kids-beneficial as that is. It’s quite another to show, holistically, throughout your agency, that you really care about Deaf people’s needs. Currently, your website doesn’t contain any reference to, for example, the National Association of the Deaf, which fights so that Deaf people have support to buy your products from private and public insurance companies. It goes against the grain – companies like yours tend to avoid mentioning ASL, in order to give the best impression of their devices.
So how many Deaf technicians, audiologists, secretaries – how many Deaf people, speaking or signing or using French, work for you, period, other than as spokespeople? And are you up for linking to Deaf websites, such as NAD or the WFD – especially with your recent “World Travelers” drive (which, honestly, inspired this letter)? It’s not like you don’t benefit from those agencies indirectly, by their activism in support of, say, health care benefits for Deaf children, and by their efforts to improve education over the years. After all, you’re already looking for young Deaf people to go out in the world representing you.
Frankly, I think it’s first-come, first serve. If you really did “come over,” you’d have support from millions of signing Deaf people – many of whom are ready to trust you because you have, unlike other companies, hired Deaf spokespeople. Personally, I need to see you have that kind of holistic view before I can give you my wholehearted support.