New Bill Would Open Air Force to Deaf

Deaf and severely hearing impaired individuals could soon serve in the Air Force if legislation introduced in July by a California lawmaker is passed.

An Air Force captain convinced U.S. Rep. Mark Takano, D-California, to introduce a bill that would allow deaf and hearing impaired people to serve in the Air Force as part of a pilot or demonstration program.

Current Defense Department hearing requirements bar the deaf from serving, as well as individuals who currently require or previously used a hearing aid, or have a cochlear ear implant.

Capt. Casey Doane, a helicopter pilot who grew up in a deaf family, acknowledged in a statement released July 30 by Takano’s office that “certain accommodations and limitations would have to be made, but ultimately no more than for other individuals with unique circumstances who are already serving.”