Earlier this month in Port Orange, Florida, a deaf woman was allegedly refused service and mocked by United States postal workers at the USPS local office when she sought assistance through written notes. Upon her request, she was met with this short note from the post office manager:
The woman, upset from the experience, shared the moment with her friends on Facebook. The note and story quickly went viral on Facebook and Twitter, with strangers all over the country submitting their displeasure with the postal service to the proper channels. Twitter users got personal responses from the USPS Twitter account (@USPSHelp), apologizing and promising that an investigation into the situation would be conducted.
It is remarkable how quickly this situation was responded to by the higher channels of the postal service. This was just one woman in one store. Only a few years ago, this story may have gone unnoticed and unheard by the public and by the people at the top of the organization. The power of social media as a tool for those whose voices are often more easily muffled makes it difficult to stifle.
In fact, the story of the woman in Port Orange has caught the attention of worldwide media outlets now, with the Daily Mail reporting that a USPS spokesman extended their apologies, adding:
Our expectation is that all customers will be treated with dignity and respect and receive courteous and helpful service from our employees. Some situations present special challenges, such as language barriers, hearing and visual impairments, as well as others. We always strive to meet the needs of the customers in all situations and deeply regret when we do not live up to that expectation.” Click here to read the Daily Mail article.
The USPS spokesman also promised “swift remedial actions” to address the incident, following up on their previous personal responses to Twitter users.
At DEC (and all CIL’s), one of our core missions is advocacy. To advocate for the same human and civil rights enjoyed by others.
This swift response by the public and the USPS has proven that tools like Twitter and Facebook are providing a new opportunity to advocate for our rights and the rights of all individuals with disabilities, to live independently. And they should be an integral part of our advocacy efforts.