|Orlando City Hall|
It’s great that Ortiz’s goal is that Orlando be the most accessible city in the nation, does he realize what he’s getting himself into. It’s more than just providing an interpreter at city council meetings, and the first step he ought to show his enthusiasm that he meant well is to become fluent in ASL, American Sign Language. Martha Vineyard is still the only place in our history where everyone, including its town officials, can communicate with its Deaf constituents. The late Milwaukee Police Chief Bob Ziarnik was fluent in ASL so why couldn’t our police force. It’s great that the Special Olympics coming to Orlando in 2022, but has it ever considered bidding for the opportunity to host the 2021 Deaflympics that recently were held in Samsun, Turkey. Florida won the bid to host the 2022 National Association of the Deaf conference and there is a couple of cities being considered, is Orlando one of them? We may be left out if we don’t get our act together to put a package of incentives together in a proposal to the Florida Association of the Deaf. DeafNation Expo is coming to Kissimmee next month, why isn’t Orlando participating with its own booth at the event. DeafNation World Expo is held in Las Vegas and will stay there until Orlando become more visible having a Visit Orlando booth at their DeafNation Expos across the country, they are having one in Chicago this coming weekend. Deaf tourism is an untapped market and Orlando is missing out. There are plenty of opportunities out there to boost our economy, the World Federation of the Deaf is being held in France, the World Deaf Magicians was held in Cyprus. Deaf magician, Mathew Morgan, already performed at the Kissimmee Public Library. Orlando got to catch up with Kissimmee, the movies on the lakefront are closed-captioned on a separate screen. Pioneer Village has an interpreter on site at its annual event. I don’t see any block grants to promote Deaf Arts, Miami host it recently working closely with the Deaf community making it possible. Seattle hosts an International Deaf Film Festival, why not here? Millions in block grants goes to various non-profit organizations to celebrate their ethnics and cultural events, without requiring them to be accessible to our Deaf community who still felt left out. Will Orlando change the name of one of its new community center to honor Laurent Clerc the first Deaf teacher in America, like they did with civil rights leaders, MLK, etc. That community center be Deaf friendly with a Deaf program director who plans Deaf events, field trips and educational workshops. They can hire a Deaf recreational director from Gallaudet University, a Deaf college in Washington, DC that has such programs. We got a shortages of teachers, has anyone ever thought of hiring Deaf teachers in our public schools, remember that interpreters are not just for Deaf children and besides they can use a good role model. We need city job fairs for the Deaf, allowing them to explore career opportunities within our government, meet potential employers, and conduct interviewing and hiring onsite. Shouldn’t our bus stations have video LED signs, where one can give instructions in American Sign Language, rather than just text. Will like to see videophone kiosks all over the city, accessible to both Deaf tourists and residents alike.
Now let’s get into other issues, there is a need for Deaf Seniors housing projects like the one they got on Milwaukee and Phoenix, and the adoption of a universal design concept in the city planning commission making sure all communication and physical barriers are removed, adopting Deaf space rules in new constructions. Smart city technology is to be implemented like they do in Austin and Philadelphia where Deaf can use their smartphone to gain access to all the attractions within the city using GPS, it’s worth the investments. I use one when I was at the world’s fair in Spain, the smartphone apps contains two modes both in sign language and captioning. In our case, the sign language mode contains at least two, American and International Sign Language while the captioning mode contains eight different foreign language including Spanish, Portuguese, German, and French, etc. The apps also contains tourists information such as attractions, shopping and restaurants. Expo 2020 will be held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates and over two hundred countries are participating and I encourage our city officials to attend to learn and gather ideas to visualized what direction should Orlando take into the next century.