Shannon Heroux: Woman says Dunkin' Donuts didn't serve her for being deaf in video
Shannon Heroux is deaf and due to the mask mandate, she couldn't read lips while the manager spoke
A North Hollywood woman has said that she was refused service at Dunkin’ Donuts because she is deaf. On September 10, she shared a video talking about the incident on Instagram and TikTok. The video has since gone viral.
Shannon Heroux said in the video, "A little while ago, I got refused service at a Dunkin' Donuts because I'm deaf." The woman also broke into tears. "I didn't know how to process it, I was confused, I couldn't hear anything. I wear an implant but I was not wearing it at the time. I've never been refused service before and it hurts, it hurts really bad."
Heroux wrote on Instagram, “When I first walked in, I let the female employee know that I was deaf — I did pull my mask down to let her know as I speak so softly I wanted her to hear me. As The manager came over, I could not hear anything he was saying since he kept his mask on. I had my mask on as well and kept telling him ‘I can’t hear you, I can’t hear you’. I mentioned numerous times that I’m deaf and the manager didn’t believe me.”
She said that the manager “kept showing me the door”. She said he even refused to write anything down so she could communicate with him. “I would like an apology from the Balboa Dunkin’ Donuts,” Heroux said, adding, “I want to spread awareness on how hard this pandemic has been for deaf people. So much ignorance out there and that needs to be corrected. If someone tells you they’re deaf, believe them. Most of us can lip read, and it’s 10x quicker than writing everything down to communicate.”
She said she is considered “dangerously deaf”, adding, “when I wear my cochlear implant, I can communicate to the point my deafness is not detected. I don’t have to wear my cochlear implant. I stopped wearing it much during this pandemic because the constant struggle of trying to understand people through masks that refuse to accommodate has been emotionally and physically draining.”
Speaking to KCAL/KCBS about the difficulties of her disability and the mask mandate, she said, “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 added that she has been able to manage by asking clerks and service staff to help her, but this incident stunned her.
“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.
In a September 12 post, Heroux said she was filing a complaint within the Americans with Disabilities Act. She said, “Me getting my apology won’t be enough for any future incidents with anyone else. This will not get swept under the rug anymore. I will proceed to push forward to make it more known that enough is enough and something needs to change. Corporate is the first step and if there is to no change, I will go as far as the White House if I have to.”
On September 14, she shared an update on Instagram — a mail from Dunkin’ Donuts that said, “We take these matters very seriously and I would like to speak with you to get more information as soon as possible. Our restaurants are independently owned and operated and the franchise owner will want to know about this immediately. The customer support mail added, “I am sorry about your experience and look forward to speaking with you at your convenience.”
Heroux said on an Instagram post that she lost her hearing at the age of four due to a birth defect called “Enlarged Vestibular Aqueducts”. As per the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, most children with enlarged vestibular aqueducts will develop some amount of hearing loss. However, scientists do not think that EVA causes hearing loss, but that both are caused by the same underlying defect.