Thursday, October 28, 2004

A Message to Deaf Republicans From Al

Dear Deaf Republicans:

First of all, I want to congratulate you for creating DeafRepublicans and air out the pros and cons. I was the Executive Director of TDI, then Telecommunications for the Deaf,Inc., during the Papa Bush and Clinton administrations. I was very involvedin developing the ADA and FCC regulations covering telecommunications relay services (TRS), captioning, and 9-1-1 access.

What really had happened were as follows:

The original ADA was introduced by Senator Wicker (D-CT) in 1988. It waskilled by both parties. In 1989, it was reintroduced by Senator Harkin(D-IA) because Wicker became the Governor of Conn. Papa Bush (R) was against it. Senator Dole (R-KS) got involved and convinced Harkin to include undue hardships to protect the businesses. Harkin obliged andlobbied for it in the Senate. After it passed, Rep Hoyer (D-MD) lobbied in the House of Reps. Papa Bush (R) signed it into the law in 1990. The responsibilities to develop regulations to the Federal CommunicationsCommission on TRS and captioning and to the Dept of Justice on the 9-1-1 access. The watered down TRS regulations were developed in 1991 under the Papa Bush administration and strengthened under the Clinton administration. The 9-1-1 regulations were developed in 1993 under the Clinton administration.

The FCC is usually administered by five (5) commissioners. Three, including the chair, are appointed and are of the same party as the President. Two are appointed by the other party. The FCC Disability Rights Office was created by the vote of 3 Democrats with two Republicans opposing in 1995. Practically ALL disability related issues were passed by the vote of 3-2 during the Clinton administration. The 7-1-1 was created in 1997 by vote of 3-2 under the Clinton administration, not by Papa Bush as you had stated.

When Baby Bush became the President, practically ALL issues AGAINST people with disabilities were either carried or watered down by vote of 3 - 2. Even a hotline to the FCC Disability Rights Office using was abolished, making it more difficult for deaf people to appeal for assistance with the FCC by vote of 3 - 2.

As of today, the FCC, under the Baby Bush administration, is considering of abolishing already watered down programs on TRS, captioning, and emergency access, to name a few, in favor of the industry rather than deaf consumers. In other words, should Bush remain as the resident of the White House, it is very possible that we, the deaf people, will go back to the dark ages of minimal relay services and unempowered captioning and emergency access.

Question: Are the issues such as economy, abortion, gun control, and stem cells, to name a few, more important than relay services, captioning and access to emergency services for deaf people???

In closing, I dare you to post this letter.

Al Sonnenstrahl

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