A Deaf man has been appointed to serve in the D.C. Mayor’s DC Commission on Persons with Disabilities. His name is Jarvis Grindstaff and he will serve a two-year term on the board.
The Commission is focused on advocating for the rights and quality of life for all souls who are in DC — for residents, employees, and visitors. On the Commission, Jarvis will inform and advise the city on things that impact DC residents with disabilities.
The DC Association of the Deaf (DCAD) announced it on their Facebook page. They said he was sworn in on March 3rd along with 87 other new members to serve Mayor Bowser. The DCAD said this is the beginning of a direct connection between DCAD and the Mayor’s office.
Nice! I reached out to Jarvis for comment. I asked him two questions:
Jarvis: Hi Alex, I'd be happy to answer your questions
Alex: What do you hope to do as a Deaf person on the Commission?
Jarvis: I’ve been on the DCAD and there are several agenda items that are difficult for it to be enacted through the DC Government because we don’t have a relationship with them. So it’s great that I’ll be involved and I can bring DCAD’s agenda items. For example, we want to establish a Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. Some states have their own government offices for Deaf/HoH, but DC doesn’t have it and it’s ironic because there are many Deaf people here. Where are the support services — for interpreting, access, other things? There is an office, DRO Disability Rights Office, but they don’t really understand Deaf people. So this is a big project.
Another thing is captioning in movie theaters. DC has great services, but it is usually on a voluntary basis by the theaters. We want to make it an once-a-week requirement like they do in Hawaii.
A third big item on the agenda is on the metro/subway trains. They are planning a big renovation of the trains. I saw their designs for a new train and they only have one TV to notify people on the next stop. Suppose it is rush hour and the train is packed, people wouldn’t be able to see the TV. There should be five TVs, one on each side, so we can see it from all angles.
So those are the little things that I will advise to the Mayor.
Alex: How did you find this opportunity to serve on this Commission? The Mayor appointed you -- can you tell us how that process works?
Jarvis: I first found out through the DCAD — they notified us of this and I thought it was a great opportunity. The DC government has a disability rights office (DRO) and they hosted a Deaf Awareness Day. It was a great interaction with their staff and the DRO Director lives two blocks away from my home. (The DC state is small). So I applied for the opportunity last fall.
The process went through MOTA — Mayor of Talent Appointees — they screened the applications. The final applications went to the Mayor’s table — and Mayor Bowser usually agree with what MOTA decides. So they let me know a month ago. It was great.
Thank you for your time, Jarvis.
DCAD Facebook Post: http://bit.ly/2m4MRp9
Photo Gallery of Swearing-In Ceremony: http://bit.ly/2njeTxr