NAD Meets with U.S. Dept. of Transportation

The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) was among several disability organizations invited by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to discuss issues related to surface transportation and accessibility on December 7, 2010. Each representative was asked to share thoughts on how to improve access, how to measure outcomes and performance, policy solutions, and how the DOT can provide for a safe and accessible communities, research and development.

The NAD, along with other deaf and hard of hearing organizations, came with a long list of concerns. Considering that the forum was shared with other disability rights groups, a respectful amount of time was devoted to deaf and hard of hearing issues. The NAD insisted that all aural information also be presented in visual format, in other words, captioning must be provided for all information that is communicated through spoken languages. This includes public service announcements in stations, announcements of bus/train/ferry stops, and announcements on arrivals, departures, and delays. Spoken information at both terminals and onboard transit modes must be accessible to deaf and hard of hearing travelers. The NAD also requested that there be consistency in application and enforcement.

The issues that were discussed which pertain to the deaf and hard of hearing community include:

  • Captioning of aural information;
  • Visual warnings for sirens;
  • Adding text or email information for emergency notifications;
  • Changing regulations to allow deaf and hard of hearing qualified drivers to obtain commercial driver licenses (CDLs);
  • Training of transportation service personnel;
  • Ensuring accessibllity in requests for paratransit services; and
  • Following through on enforcement of accessibility regulations.

The NAD commends the DOT for welcoming advocates to help them improve accessibility in the area of surface transportation, and is fully prepared to work with the agency in making roads, buses, ferries, and trains more accessible for deaf and hard of hearing people. The DOT is committed to scheduling a follow up meeting during January 2011.

Update (12/22/2010):

Nancy J. Bloch sent a follow-up letter thanking the DOT for meeting with our community and lists our concerns that we want to see the DOT address. Click here for a copy of the letter (PDF file).