Are deaf people considered as flight risk?

I received this reponse from a flight attendant codenamed “theskygirl” about my blog entry on Deaf passengers not allowed to board Cebu Pacific Airline.

theskygirl, on August 21st, 2008 at 12:56 am Said:

It goes with the procedures in an airline. As you can see, Cebu Pacific has only Airburs 319’s and 320’s – with three to four cabin crew. It’s with their discretion if they would want to take 10 deaf people on board, not unless they have let’s say 18 cabin crew? It goes with the ratio as what aviation people would say. One cabin equals to fifty passengers I suppose for an Airbus. And think about having emergencies on board. You cannot accommodate 10 deaf people with only 4 cabin crew.

I’m a flight attendant from a different airline. And we have standards when it comes to passenger handling. For example you have four cabin crew on board, usually your airline (again with it’s discretion) would allow 2 deaf people on board. Again, when it comes to aviation, sometimes it would be unfair if we would react negatively. Think, safety.

I am very elated that someone from the airline industry, a flight attendant like Ms. Skygirl would go out of her way to reply. Thank you very much for commenting. You are greatly appeciated. 🙂

Now, for my reaction. I believe this merits a separate blog post and not just a comment-reply. I go back to my earlier explanation about people’s general ignorance and common misconception about deafness and Deaf people.

If airline companies have policy against boarding ten or more deaf passengers because of safety concerns, does it mean that they are considered as flight risks?

Please remember that a Deaf person only has one ability lacking, the ability to hear. He can run, jump and swim just as fast as anybody else because he has complete and functioning extremities. He doesn’t need someone to lead him just like a blind person. He doesn’t need to be pushed and carried into his wheelchair just like an invalid or orthopedically impaired person. He has a complete state of mind and can recognize his surroundings unlike a mentally challenged or autistic. He can listen to instructions with his eyes. Think of Deaf people as people who are from a different nationality and don’t understand English.

For the sake of argument, let’s just say that there is an emergency situation. The stewardess would announce that something is wrong with the airplane. People started to get panicky. Do you think a Deaf person would do his own thing and not copy what other passengers are doing? Certainly not! If the emergency oxygen mask drops from the ceiling, what would you normally do? Would the ten deaf people do it differently? Do they need individual personal instructions from the crew when the “Seatbelt On” red light is flashed on the plane’s ceiling? Remember, they are not blind.

I don’t consider harping about this incident a negative reaction. I consider it as a clear violation of the Deaf’s basic human right to travel.

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