Keith Nolan gives a talk at TEDxIslay about his fight to get a commission into the U.S. Army
Jul 30, 2014 Press Release
Washington, DC – Earlier today, Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA) introduced legislation that would allow deaf and hard of hearing individuals to serve in the United States Air Force in a demonstration program. Original co-sponsors include Rep. Niki Tsongas, Rep. John Garamendi, Rep. Henry Waxman, and Rep. Chris Van Hollen.
Currently, the Department of Defense sets medical standards for enlistment. Within the “hearing” section, there are requirements for hearing levels that would exclude an individual who is deaf. The section also excludes individuals who currently or historically use a hearing aid, or who have a cochlear implant.
Officer Casey Doane, who grew up in a deaf family and is currently serving as a commissioned Officer in the Air Force, believes hearing impaired Americans are capable of serving.
“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,” said Air Force Officer Casey Doane. “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. Growing up in a deaf family I was able to see first hand the adversity that deaf individuals faced every day. But more importantly, I was able to see the determination and perseverance that is necessary to serve as a leader in the Air Force. In fact, I credit my own determination to those experiences.”
“Over the past few decades, the Armed Forces have given groups who were previously excluded the opportunity to serve,” said Rep. Takano. “The time has come for the Armed Forces to do the same for individuals with auditory impairments, as many are fully qualified model cadets. The demonstration program that this legislation would create would allow 15-20 deaf and hard of hearing individuals who would otherwise qualify to serve their country in the Air Force. I’m proud to introduce this legislation and hope that it moves through the House so that millions of hearing impaired Americans have the opportunity to serve their country.”
The National Association of the Deaf has endorsed the legislation.