BENZIE COUNTY, Mich., (WPBN/WGTU) — Xpert Fulfillment is a unique business. In a nutshell, they are kind of like Amazon, a middle man between manufacturers and eventual customers. But if you spend any time at all inside their massive Benzie County warehouse and you quickly realize, it’s not just what they do that makes them unique, but also how they do it.
The warehouse at Xpert Fulfillment is about what you would expect. There are lots of shelves, lots of boxes, but sometimes not a lot of chatter amongst employees, at least not the kind you can hear.
Bob Boylan started the company and it’s done well, partly because it’s a great business model but also because he has created a supportive work environment for all his employees, including the ones who can’t hear. On some days, there are more employees, like his brother Luke, working inside the box filled facility that are deaf than those who can hear. Luke says that makes for a unique environment for the deaf community. One where it’s very easy to function and become just another member of the team. Luke says, “it’s a lot of fun to with my brother and with other deaf people as well.”
Bob isn’t hiring people who are deaf as a hand out. It’s not sympathy for those who can’t hear. Bob simply views his hiring practices as just being a level playing field. All his employees are equal no matter how he talks with them, and so are the expectations.
Luke says it’s not like that everywhere. He says too many businesses aren’t willing to accept a deaf employee out of fear, prejudice or ignorance. Luke says, “a lot of different places have a hard time, difficulties with communications, where here it is free.”
The employees talk a lot, you just don’t hear it. You must understand sign language to get the point. Since understanding what is being said is important to all the workers at Xpert, many, who have no problem hearing are taking it upon themselves to learn how to sign. Both Bob and Luke say it’s been touching to see, and that having anyone learn a little sign language could have big impact. Luke explains “just proud that we are getting to the point where we can start to help more deaf people, the more people that learn sign, it will always help.”
SULPHUR, Oklahoma – The Oklahoma School for the Deaf announced Thursday it would be closing down campus while police investigate a threat against the school.
A deaf, 76-year-old woman accused an Alameda County Sheriff’s Office deputy of excessive force during an alleged jaywalking incident last year, claiming the deputy “violently threw” her to the ground and handcuffed her to an ambulance while she was unconscious.
Attorneys for plaintiff Hui Jie Jin laid out the allegations in a lawsuit filed late last week in Northern District of California. The suit claims Jin suffered a permanent brain injury, along with contusions and abrasions, as a result of what her attorneys called an unlawful arrest.
Defendants named in the suit include sheriff’s deputy Phillip Corvello, Alameda County, Alameda County Sheriff Gregory Ahern and the city of Dublin. Corvello is is contracted to work with the Dublin Police Department.
Nate Schmidt, a Dublin police captain, confirmed that the department conducted an internal investigation after the incident and found Corvello’s use of force to be within policy.
The department’s policy does not count jaywalking as an arrestable offense, Schmidt said, but “there was more than an arrest for jaywalking. Not obeying a lawful order is an arrestable offense, so that’s what we were looking at.”
Schmidt declined comment on the allegations in the civil suit but confirmed that Corvello is still employed by the agency.
Jin and Corvello first encountered each other on the morning of July 21, 2017, when Jin was out shopping for groceries. The lawsuit claims that Corvello began yelling at Jin while she was allegedly jaywalking, but because Jin is “profoundly deaf” she couldn’t hear or understand his commands.
As Corvello moved closer to her, the suit alleges, Jin pointed to her ear with one hand and waved her hand back and forth with the other to signal that she was deaf.
“Despite recognizing that Mrs. Jin could not hear or understand him, Officer Corvello made no attempts to effectively communicate with Mrs. Jin at any point before or during her arrest,” the suit states.
More officers arrived on the scene and performed a search of Jin and her grocery bags, according to court documents, and during this time Jin emptied her pockets to hand Corvello her California identification card, disabled senior citizen bus pass, and a handwritten card with the name and phone number of Jin’s daughter for emergencies.
“Mrs. Jin was terrified, but at no point did she resist arrest or attempt to flee, nor could she due to her age and disabilities,” the complaint states. Jin prayed and repeatedly bowed in front of Corvello “in order to beg … for mercy and not to hurt her.”
In response, the suit alleges, Corvello slammed the woman to the ground, placed a foot or knee behind her neck or back and handcuffed her. Jin passed out and was taken to the hospital via ambulance, according to the suit, which alleges violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act, negligence, and deprivation of Jin’s civil rights.
Jin was issued a citation for jaywalking and resisting arrest, but no paperwork exists and no charges were filed, the suit states.
Jin is seeking an unnamed amount in damages, as well as a training and policy overhaul on how the agencies handle people with hearing loss. A case management conference is scheduled for Nov. 26 at the Phillip Burton Federal Building in San Francisco.
Members of the Auckland Deaf community have collaborated with local filmmakers to tell a story about Deaf culture in the Whau.
A story of language alienation and friendship, The Village, follows Brandy, a young woman arriving at a Deaf school and experiencing the culture shock of full immersion into a sign language environment.
The film is a fictionalised account based on the experiences of the many hearing impaired youth who grow up in verbal environments, who only later discover sign language.
It reflects the challenges and daily experiences of being Deaf and speaks to the participants’ desire that more people become fluent in New Zealand Sign Language.
Brandy Watene-Paul, who plays the lead character of the same name, says she felt nervous at the start of filming and was worried about a breakdown in communication. But over time she felt herself become more confident. “I feel good about it and proud to share it, to show that we are equal and not separated from the world,” she says.
The film was created in collaboration with residents and staff of the Kelston Deaf Education Centre (KDEC), members of the Auckland Deaf community, film maker Hank Snell, writer James Littlewood, and local artist Amy Blinkhorne.
It was funded by the Whau Local Board through their Community Arts Broker. Whau Local Board Chair Tracy Mulholland says she hopes the film will help give people a greater understanding of the challenges the Deaf community faces.
“The film aimed to enable creative learning for the young people who participated as well as communicate and promote Deaf culture. It’s a great film – I encourage you to watch it. ”
The Whau has long been home to the North Island residential school for students who are deaf or hard of hearing. It was filmed on location at Totara Village, part of the KDEC complex. Totara Village provides a safe, nurturing environment for up to 23 Deaf and Hard of Hearing residents who attend the centre.
“It was only when my grandmother examined me that she confirmed to my parents that I was in fact deaf,” she said.
Still her parents didn’t think it was serious, and they took her to a doctor who gave her hearing aids. She only wore them for three months before getting a cochlear implant operation at 22 months.
“I was the youngest child to receive a cochlear implant in the Pretoria cochlear implant programme. At that time implants could only be performed after 24 months.”
She spoke to the Pretoria News of the struggles through life and of conquering the disability she could not escape.
It wasn’t all “hunky-dory” after the successful operation, which gave her a cochlear implant in one ear. Although it made her speech better and subsequently she learnt how to talk, other children still made fun of her disability. “In turn, this made me feel inadequate, and like an outcast.”
She said although she was never really bullied, she felt like she didn’t belong. Her struggles were hardest in group settings.
“In a group there is a lot of people talking and it makes you tired because you have to concentrate. In other instances you have to lip read so it all makes sense. And sometimes people laugh uncontrollably and I wouldn’t know what they were laughing at because I had missed something.”
She said she couldn’t make friends because she was embarrassed to start conversations: “I felt people were irritated by me always asking them to repeat themselves because I couldn’t hear them.”
While she was in high school at Willow Ridge her two best friends changed her life, and made her feel accepted.
After matriculating the person she referred to as her “knight in shining armour” reassured her that she was more than enough. He suggested she join the Miss Deaf SA.
She is among the top three of eight girls to compete in the pageant, to take place on October 13 at the Atterbury Theatre in Pretoria.
“The only thing you can change is your own behaviour, not your disability, so own it so they can’t use it against you,” she said.
Leitao said she was in need of sponsors for her pageant wardrobe, and those who responded, she said, would get media coverage and advertisements on the night. She is currently studying early childhood development at Unisa and teaches children between the ages of two and seven years at Whispers Speech and Hearing Centre in Lynnwood. She is also au-pairing for a family with a child who has two cochlear implants.
“This job not only pays for my studies but it also allows me to give back to the community that supported me in these valuable early years of my life,” she said.