James Moehle and Angela Huckaby were flying home to Houston when their bag was misplaced. That sucks. I once had to wear a robe for two days because my luggage got lost and I refused to put on a Hawaiian shirt if my life depended on it. (PSA: Wearing a robe for two days is wonderful and I suggest everyone try it.) However, when my bag was returned it did not come with an offensive note attached. This was not the case for Moehle and Huckaby.
The couple, who are both deaf, got a rude surprise when their bag was delivered after being found. The note attached to it read "Please text deaf and dumb." While the "please text" suggests that the person in charge of handling the bug was attempting to be polite, the couple was understandably upset by the fact that the worker had used an offensive and outdated term to describe them.
Here's an explanation of why the term is insulting, according to the National Association of the Deaf:
Deaf and Dumb — A relic from the medieval English era, this is the granddaddy of all negative labels pinned on deaf and hard of hearing people. The Greek philosopher, Aristotle, pronounced us "deaf and dumb," because he felt that deaf people were incapable of being taught, of learning, and of reasoned thinking. To his way of thinking, if a person could not use his/her voice in the same way as hearing people, then there was no way that this person could develop cognitive abilities. (Source: Deaf Heritage, by Jack Gannon, 1980)
Airline Spokesperson Casey Norton has responded to the couple's complaint and stated that the worker who had made the mistake was not a native english speaker and will be going through sensitivity training. In addition, Norton has stated that the company will use this incident as a "systemwide teaching example so that everybody is more respectful of those who have different impairments."
James Moehle's mother, who had initially called for the worker's firing (which would have likely helped no one), has stated that she is satisfied with this outcome and is glad that both the worker and the public can use the incident to be educated about the proper terminology to use when communicating with people with disabilities.
"I felt hurt for my son because I know how hard he works" — he's been employed as a technician at the same heating and air conditioning company for 16 years, she told The Associated Press.
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