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Treatment of Deaf Couple at Wendy’s Drive Thru

Deaf News: Treatment of Deaf couple at Wendy's sparks outrage in Texas.

AUSTIN, TX -- TWC News: A local Deaf couple recently visited the Wendy's at 305 West Slaughter Lane in South Austin for food. They handed a note to the employee with their order at the window. But instead of immediately getting the fries and burgers they requested, they got a handwritten message.

They say an employee handed it to them after the fast food restaurant didn't get their order right.

The couple feels they were mistreated while trying to use the drive-thru.

Elisa Vita said the message left a bad taste in her mouth.

"They gave me the note and I felt very upset about that. I felt like they looked at me as less than other people, as inferior to other people and it was really not a good feeling,” said Vita.

Vita posted an image of the message on Facebook.

"It really hit a nerve with people," said Vita.

Thousands have weighed in online sharing similar experiences at fast food restaurants nationwide. Vita said she spoke with the manager of the South Austin Wendy's who gave her some free meal coupons and was incredibly apologetic about the situation.

She doesn't feel like enough was done to make it right.

"I deserve the right to the same service and obviously Wendy's needs to provide more in-depth training that explicitly says everyone deserves to access the drive-thru," said Vita.

A University of Texas professor said fast food worker or not, it's best to just follow a Deaf person's lead when they're trying to communicate with you.

"They [Deaf People] are skilled at working with and interacting with people with whom they don't share a common language. Try not to become frustrated if you're the clerk," said Richard Meier, the Department of Linguistics chair at UT.

Accessibility issues for the Deaf expand far beyond the drive-thru. Faculty within UT's ASL Program are beginning to research them further.

"One problem is there may not be interpreters readily available or the interpreter may be available through a video link," said Meier. "So our question is, how well is this working?"

Meier and his colleagues plan on specifically looking at healthcare first. With such a large Deaf community based in Austin, many believe it's the perfect place to conduct such research. Many say there can never be too much emphasis placed on improving accessibility as it benefits everyone, not just the Deaf.


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