The Deaf/Hard of Hearing Task Force
The Deaf/Hard of Hearing Task Force is a forum for APWU members to address their unique problems and concerns in the workplace, union, and society. Established in 1988 by an amendment to the APWU National Constitution, its goals include: better communication, better representation; better training, a better workplace, a better union, and building friendship.The Secretary-Treasurer's office serves as a liaison to the APWU's Deaf/Hard of Hearing Task Force.
Five regional representatives selected at the National Deaf/Hard of Hearing Conference serve as spokespeople for the committee.
The Collective Bargaining Agreement between the USPS and APWU includes a Memorandum of Understanding [PDF], which outlines management's obligation to provide "reasonable accommodation" to deaf and hard of hearing workers.
Important achievements of the Deaf/Hard of Hearing Task Force include winning rights at work, within the union, and in the community.
Reasonable Accommodations in Union Activities Include:
- National conventions use real-time captioning, enabling Deaf/Hard of Hearing members to participate fully;
- All union videos offer closed captioning;
- TTY telecommunication devices are available at the union's national headquarters and in the offices of all five APWU Regional Coordinators.
Reasonable Accommodations at Work:
- Visual light-alarm systems have been installed in many post offices;
- Vibrating beeper-pager systems are utilized in many post offices;
- Flashing lights, mirrors, and other safety and health items are in use at many post offices.
Strides in Education and Communication:
- The Task Force has sponsored national, regional, state, and local conferences on the rights of Deaf/Hard of Hearing union members;
- Task force members have taught workshops on subjects such as, sensitivity training for the hearing APWU officers and stewards, and steward training for Deaf/Hard of Hearing members.
- The Deaf/Hard of Hearing Task Force successfully lobbied for the "ILY" ("I Love You" in sign language) postage stamp;
- The Task Force works with the AFL-CIO Workers with Disabilities Project;
- The Task Force was awarded the "Spirit of NAD" award in 1996 from the National Association for the Deaf.