Legislation for small number of deaf to serve in US Air Force

Awareness

A lawmaker is advocating new legislation that would enable a small number of hearing impaired people to serve in the US Air Force.

Democrat congressman Mark Takano (Riverside County, California) recently introduced new legislation in the US House of Representatives that would allow 15 to 20 people who are deaf or hard of hearing, but otherwise fit for military duty, to serve in the US Air Force. The Air Force Times reports.

Currently, the Department of Defense excludes people who are deaf, who use hearing aids, or who have cochlear implants, from active service. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Nate Christensen, a spokesman for the Department says that this is for good reason, “In all areas of military life, but especially in combat, an individual’s life and the lives of his or her comrades may depend on what individuals can hear. Situations could occur where hearing impairment would not only result in injury or loss of life, but could jeopardize a unit’s mission.” He also mentioned that people with a physical disability can, in any event, become civilian members of the military.

According to the article, support for the move has also come from serving personnel. An Air Force helicopter pilot, Capt. Casey Doane, who has family members with hearing impairments is quoted as saying, “It is from my direct experience that I can say it is entirely possible for deaf or hard of hearing Americans to serve in the Air Force. Obviously, certain accommodations and limitations would have to be made, but ultimately no more than for other individuals with unique circumstances who are already serving.” He says the proposed trial program would simply help to find out what is possible and what is not.

Source: Air Force Times

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