Deaf woman says eatery refused to serve her

Published: Sep. 20, 2021 at 7:31 AM CDT
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ENCINO, Calif. (KCAL/KCBS) - A North Hollywood woman says she was refused service at a Dunkin because she’s deaf.

She posted a TikTok video about the incident that went viral and generated more than 2 million likes.

It turns out that one of the challenges of mask mandates during the pandemic means that many deaf people who rely on lip-reading are lost.

“Couldn’t hear anything. Yeah, I wear a cochlear implant, but I was not wearing it at that time. I’ve never been refused service before. It hurts,” Shannon Heroux said.

Last week she sitting in her car, choked up and crying, posting an emotional video after she says a cashier and manager refused her service at a Dunkin because she’s deaf.

She needed them to either lower their masks so she could see what they were saying or write it down.

A week later, the pain of that day has not much subsided.

“He didn’t believe me. You could see it in his body language,” Heroux said. “I kept saying ‘Write it down’ once or twice, and then he just kept talking with his mask on. And then, before I know it, I’m just like, ‘Are you going to take my order?’ He said, ‘No.’ Well, shook his head, no. Just utter confusion and just heartbroken.”

Pandemic mask requirements have been a problem for people like Heroux, who read lips.

“The whole time, from the moment we went to our first shopping experience with a mask mandate, I had to have my partner by my side,” she said.

But she has been able to manage by asking clerks and service staff to help her. Why this staff wouldn’t do that was stunning, hurtful and discriminatory, she said.

“I want to know like what is this manager like to other people, and why would he do that? Because no deaf person deserves that. You know, it’s an invisible disability. We shouldn’t be judged like that. Even if we speak or don’t speak, it doesn’t matter,” Heroux said.

The national Dunkin corporate team has issued a formal apology to her. She has also scheduled to have a face-to-face with the local franchise owner.

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