In a video recording taken on New Years Eve, you can see 25 year-old Brandon Washburn, a deaf man, trying to get the Taco Bell employee’s attention by waving his phone at the drive-thru window. While watching this video you can also hear the employee tell Brandon, “It’s against company policy. I can’t do it.” basically refusing service to Washburn simply because he was unable to verbally give his order.
Brandon’s mother, Becky Rosemont Burch, stated that Brandon writes down his orders on his phone and presents the phone at the window in drive-thru, and has done so many times before at various restaurants with no issues. In the video the Taco Bell employee was stating he was unable to take Brandon’s order through drive-thru and instead wanted him to come inside to order. Becky, Brandon’s mother, stated that Brandon “knew he was being discriminated against.”
Towards the end of the video the employee is seen shaking his head before walking away from the drive-thru window. Brandon continuously tried to get the employee’s attention, and when the employee returned he threatened to call 911.
The After Effect
Many people have commented on the video expressing outrage and disgust towards the Taco Bell employee and his actions, or lack thereof. Taco Bell said in a statement that all other employees working at this Taco Bell location will be “retrained” on their company policies.
This incident sheds lights on an issue that happens probably more often than not. As a society, we should become educated on understanding the hardships that those who are deaf or hard of hearing have to overcome in their daily lives. Companies of all kinds should work to implement policies regarding servicing those who may be hard of hearing or deaf, training their employees to properly handle each situation. The National Association of the Deaf released in a statement to NBC News that fast-food restaurant chains, particularly those with a drive-thru should “work with our organization to develop and disseminate a systematic fix so that none of their franchises and facilities ever again deny service to deaf and hard of hearing customers.”
As a hearing healthcare practice, we advocate for those who have difficulty hearing to take the necessary steps needed in the journey to better hearing. We also heavily support the use of hearing devices and encourage breaking the stigma behind the use of hearing aids. Dr. Sperino, an audiologist here at Cook Hearing & Balance, has some words for how society could’ve played a key role in this outcome:
“I feel as though it is our responsibility as society, and as the general public to inform and educate others on how to handle individuals with any disability. It doesn’t necessarily have to be just hearing loss but any and all disabilities should be properly dealt with in any situation.
I believe having specific required training for identifying, educating, and handling any individuals with a disability should become implemented in all businesses.”
At Cook Hearing and Balance we want everyone to become informed and educated about hearing loss and prevention. If you or a loved one have noticed your hearing isn’t what it used to be, contact us today!