sComm: An Update

Read my original article and open letter (available in ASL and English) before reading the below.

Warning: This article includes graphic language.

In March, I wrote an article objecting to sComm’s practice of promoting the UbiDuo as a replacement for interpreters. I then wrote an open letter urging sComm to retract its statements and apologize to interpreters and the community. Several messages I sent to sComm went unanswered. Before continuing, it may help to know a bit about sComm.

About sComm
sComm is located in Raytown, Mo., just outside of Kansas City. sComm promotes itself as being deaf-owned, but in reality, it’s partially owned by Jason Curry, who is deaf. His parents, David and Emma Curry, both hearing, are the other owners. David, credited with devising the UbiDuo concept, is a well-known real estate mogul in Sedalia, Mo.; he does not sign. Emma was an educational interpreter (using Signed Exact English) at one time, but is now the vice president at sComm and is typically involved with day-to-day matters.

The start of sComm (the name stands for simultaneous communication) was discussed in an article in The ExaminersComm “applied for a National Institutes of Health grant. It took five years for the funding to come through. In 2005 the company received a $1.5 million grant.” Curry, now 46, was then working for the federal General Services Administration, and resigned to take the company forward in 2008.

Response to My Writings
After my article and open letter were released, the response was overwhelming. Message after message shared people’s heart-wrenching stories from of being forced or pushed to use the UbiDuo instead of having interpreters brought onsite, especially in hospital and government settings. Deaf Hearing Network also aired a segment featuring a woman who shared her negative experiences with the UbiDuo.

On March 27, Curry released a video. The captions, shared below, said:

curryvidHello, my name is Jason Curry. I am the co-founder of sComm. I am deaf myself. I welcome the constructive discussions on communications in situations with abused children who are deaf. I realize that recent posts and comments on our Facebook page may not have properly reflected our position. The wording in our post did not clarify clearly that sComm advocates communication choices for everyone. How you choose to communicate is your individual choice. We support new proposed legislation to ensure that interpreters during child abuse discussions are certified interpreters rather than uncertified volunteers. Since the UbiDuo device also provides confidential face-to-face communication, as one of the options. The whole legislation and our focus is to help abused children to get the help. They need to rescue them from that abuse. We do not advise the mental health professionals or other professionals on how to choose communication options for children. I want you to know that we are not trying to replace interpreters. The UbiDuo just like interpreters, also provides face-to-face communications. Our mission at sComm is to provide additional communication options for the deaf, hard of hearing and hearing community. Thank you for watching.**

On April 6, Missouri Association of the Deaf (MoAD) President William Walker posted an open letter to sComm on the MoAD Facebook page:

MoADThis is an open letter to Jason Curry, CEO of sComm.

Missouri Association of the Deaf, Inc. (MoAD) would like to inform you of our concerns regarding the vlog that was made and posted on the sComm Facebook page on Friday, March 27, 2015. There was a comment where sComm stated the goal was to “eliminate the use of interpreters” by using UbiDuo. We, MoAD Board of Directors, feel that this kind of statement is not appropriate because not all Deaf and Hard of Hearing people have the same communication choice. MoAD has been advocating for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing people’s rights in the state of Missouri, to allow them to make their own communication choice, whether it is through a sign language interpreter, UbiDuo, Video Relay Interpreter, etc. sComm should be aware that UbiDuo is not intended to replace sign language interpreters or any other communication choice that Deaf or Hard of Hearing people choose. In addition, various places, especially hospitals should not force the Deaf and Hard of Hearing people to use your product to “save money”. If we receive any complaints from any individual that has had experience being forced to use UbiDuo when they rather have a sign language interpreter or other communication choice, MoAD will take action to investigate into this. Again, please understand and respect our deaf community where we have various communication modes to choose from.

William Walker
MoAD President**

Walker said that the open letter was difficult for him to share, since he attended school and grew up with Jason Curry in Sedalia, Mo. “I consider Jason a friend, but what sComm is doing is wrong. Especially its practice of encouraging the UbiDuo to replace interpreters.” The feedback he received from MoAD members was all in support of the letter, because they, too, continue to be frustrated with sComm’s practices. Walker also noted that sComm is not an affiliate of MoAD.

On April 7, Brandon Withem, who was a sales representative for sComm, posted a message on Facebook:

Due to comments recently made by sComm, Inc and the public outrage that has ensued as a result, I feel the need to make my position known.

withemI am deaf and have been for most of my life, that did not stop me from having great English. Even though having proficient English helps me interact with hearing peers, I am still left out to a certain degree in the conversation simply because I cannot hear. All deaf people are left out regardless of the tools being utilized; be it an interpreter, a CART, paper/pen, a hearing aid or the UbiDuo.. to name a few tools. What matters is that the person utilizing the tool is comfortable with that tool. I believe in the UbiDuo, it complements and exposes my English proficiency. However, not everyone communicates in perfect English. Really, I am an oddball to speak in “near perfect” English all the time in today’s society. Most people do not speak the way they write proficiently in a social setting. It is called conversational English, the language of predominately English speaking people in America use in their daily lives when not in a formal setting, which is most of their lives and most of Americans. Don’t be afraid to ask for correction of spelling or clarification. Hearing people do it ALL the time, deaf people don’t realize it mainly because they don’t hear hearing people ask for clarification.

We, the deaf people, face continuous discrimination every moment we live our life. It is prevalent in our access to every single aspect of our life. Were discrimination not to exist, we would not be facing issues such as these: facing hardships in communication or finding and landing entry level jobs and retain the job after 6 months. It does not help when a company that is a beacon in the deaf community has made damaging remarks in its own community about the very thing that sets us apart from the rest of the world. In turn, it is up to us to ensure that we are given equal access and if not, to pursue it.

sComm, Inc, the company was going in a direction that I did not agree with when I became employed with them so I resigned. Because of the comments recently made by sComm, Inc in the utilization of the UbiDuo and how interpreters should be completely phased out of a deaf person’s life. The comments made by sComm, Inc does not reflect my beliefs nor my desires in equal communication access for the deaf community. Their recent statements have led me to take this action in response. I have formally insisted that Jason take down any photos of me that is currently associated with sComm, Inc on its website and its Social Media feeds. He has had ample time to honor my request.

 I do not stand by nor do I condone the recent comments made by sComm, Inc. The recent posting by Jason does not explain the reverse-audism attitudes some statements made public by sComm, Inc recently clearly exhibits and is an affront to the deaf community. I believe in supporting options and choices and the posts recently made by sComm does not reflect what I have always tried to emphasize as an employee. 

I disavow my previous association with sCommm, Inc other than the fact that I am a former employee of sComm, Inc… sadly.**

Brandon’s wife, Mary Pat, was also an employee at sComm, but is no longer there.

CEO’s Statement
On April 9, Curry released a statement blaming sComm’s social media specialist for the “unapproved posts”:

As CEO and Co-Founder of sComm, I would like to reaffirm our commitment to enhancing the ability of deaf, hard of hearing, and hearing people to interact with each other freely without barriers.  A heartfelt and sincere apology to both the deaf, hard of hearing, and interpreting community for unapproved posts made by one of our new media staff. We are taking steps to assure it won’t happen again. It was never our intention to offend anyone.

As a part of the deaf, hard of hearing, and hearing community, we are working to ensure that our overall philosophy is properly represented, both internally and externally.  We advocate all communication options which utilize the use of VRS, VRI, on-site interpreters and in combination with communication devices like the UbiDuo to maximize communication and timely interaction for everyone.  In our 10 years of experience in the communication device field, this combination of communication methods has generated overwhelming success stories from people who are deaf, hard of hearing, and hearing. We support communication options to maximize communication freedom and to help everyone live a full and satisfying life.**

Okay, but I wasn’t quite convinced. I wanted to see changes in its historical practices of disparaging ASL and interpreters. Critical comments had been posted even before the new social media specialist came onboard, and were left up for months. Disparaging ASL and interpreters continued for several weeks, almost as if trying to defy my article and the response. Additionally, I was told that the social media specialist wasn’t at all familiar with Deaf culture or the differences between ASL and English, and that nothing would have been posted without Curry’s approval.

Curry also had full access to all sComm social media accounts and often monitored them. One such incident was when Curry ordered his system administrator to enter the social media specialist’s email account without the specialist’s knowledge. Becca (last name withheld) said Curry “wanted [the specialist] locked out until he could delete an email and then give the specialist the new password. He stated that those emails were sComm property and he could lock any of us out at any time and review his emails.”
On June 14, the social media specialist who had been blamed for the “unapproved posts” resigned, citing “different interests.”
Working for sComm
In one year alone, sComm purportedly had 14 employees leave. All the former employees interviewed for this article cited management style and inappropriate representation of the deaf community as reasons for leaving. Becca, who worked with sComm for four years as secretary, said, “It was the worst three, almost four, years of my life and I am so glad it is over.”

Now employed elsewhere, Becca said, “I love going to work everyday, when I would wake up dreading it before. Jason has his ups and downs, but he is really the whole reason why [sComm] can’t keep people and why people want to leave not even five minutes after they walk in the door.” She added, “I have an email about how much he wanted me to stay at his company, then to just start screaming at me when I had just walked in the door.” When she stepped outside to calm down, she was told she was fired.

Curry was also Becca’s landlord. He owns a house across the street from the sComm building, and several sComm employees have lived in this house at different times. Some renters interviewed for this article shared frustrations of having Curry serve as their landlord and employer.

Another employee, Rick*, says he struggled with sComm’s stance on interpreters. He also mentioned frustratingly high expectations of his availability, often working 10-20 hours over the standard 40-hour workweek. “I would come to work and be screamed at about why I hadn’t done this or that in my off-hours,” he said, “Then I would step away to do my work, and I’d get email or texts from Jason apologizing.” He eventually was let go after a major disagreement, and was evicted from the home Curry owned.

Jake* worked in sales. “I was taking a different approach than what sComm took in the past. sComm would target hearing decision-makers to order for their Deaf employees unknowingly, which  often resulted in more sales. However, the Deaf employees rarely used UbiDuo and at times this increased friction between the Deaf employees and their supervisors because the supervisors believed that UbiDuos would replace interpreters.” Jake decided to take a different approach by working with Deaf people to see if the UbiDuo could work for them in certain situations, which sometimes led to sales, but many times didn’t. “Over time, I learned that many Deaf people were resistant due to sComm’s current marketing and sales practices where they often said and implied that UbiDuos would replace the need for an interpreter.”

This led to increasing conflicts, “ultimately leading to us parting our ways on poor terms,” Jake continued. “The most frustrating part of this whole journey was not being able to enlighten Jason in what he was truly doing to our community. Jason was the most stubborn person he had ever met and is ultimately interested in getting his parents approval, although he would never admit it.”

Jake further described Curry as “an extreme micromanager that wanted everything his way. If you did things differently, you were expected to get trouble with Jason. Many of my co-workers submitted to his ways until they got fed up and left or fired. It was a truly uncomfortable environment for being Deaf, and believing in who we are, we were ridiculed.  Therefore, there was fear in working there.”

Documents shared by former employees supported Jake’s claims, illustrating how often Curry lost his temper with his employees, cursing at them both in person and via text or email. One former employee told of how Curry referred to a female employee as a “cunt bitch,” and me as a “bitch.” A message I saw showed Curry talking with an sComm colleague about having sex and kids with an outside contractor. He tried to have the colleague set him up with the subcontractor, saying, “oh my god she is soooo hot” [sic]. When told that she was half his age, he said, “I don’t care.”

Furthermore, documents show that Curry eagerly authorized the DMCA cease-and-desist letter to me, which I quickly dismissed after seeing that it had been copied off the Internet. This type of intimidation appears to be the norm at the company. “[Curry] is argumentative, explosive and extremely rude,” a former employee said. “His staff works from 8-5 Monday to Friday, but…he expects them to be on their phone, 24/7/365. If you tell Mr. Curry that you are busy doing something else, like out with family, even on your time off on the weekends, he goes crazy. If you talk back to him, he … threatens that he’ll terminate you and he actually does.”

Several emails also show Curry apologizing repeatedly for losing his temper and begging for forgiveness. For example, when the social media specialist left, Curry immediately sent a long, apologetic email and emphasized that he had sent the specialist’s mother a replacement UbiDuo unit — which he specifically wanted me to know, according to several individuals.

Three former employees have reported that the Dept. of Labor is investigating sComm for inappropriate compensation of overtime. Becca said, “I was told that the Dept. of Labor and sComm met the other day and sComm was found to have been fraudulent in paying their employees overtime and sales commissions.” Becca added that employees who filed complaints would be receiving back pay.

I called the Dept. of Labor on July 24 to confirm this. The investigator I spoke with asked me how I had gotten this information. I said, “It was shared with me by people involved in the investigation.” She said, “Oh, okay. Let me get my supervisor.” That alone appears to confirm that there is an investigation. However, the supervisor said they could not confirm nor deny the investigation.

Social Media Practices
When I posted my original comments on the sComm Facebook page prior to the release of my March 27th article, I was immediately barred from accessing the page, as were many others who questioned sComm’s practices. I’m told that initially, sComm brushed off my article. In fact, Curry said in a message, “…I am so excited the firestorm is winding down don’t you think it was just a few stupid radical idiots” [sic]. He also said, “Trudy is the only one who wants attention.”

However, sComm continued to remove any and all negative comments, and Curry allegedly called deaf people “militant fucks.”

Another questionable practice sComm engaged in after my article was released, as documents show, was having an sComm representative go through the list of all the 8,000-plus people who liked sComm’s Facebook page and identify whether they were deaf or hearing. This was apparently so Curry could identify who the dissenters were.

I was somewhat puzzled by sComm’s sudden jump in numbers of Facebook likes after my article, but chalked it up to people’s likefarm1curiosity in the company. I later learned that sComm had purchased Facebook advertisements to help boost its numbers, and then worked with “like farms” such as described in this article, where outside companies create fake accounts that provide likes. According to emails and other documents, sComm was focused on having higher numbers of likes than video relay service (VRS) companies. He apparently had the goal of going from a couple thousand to 25,000 likes by the end of 2015. As the above screenshot shows, sComm had many likes coming from fake accounts that also posted spam messages such as, “Get free likes, s0c-likes.com.”

I spoke to a person whose testimonial is featured on the sComm website, Bertha*. She said that she had tried the UbiDuo, but disliked it so much that she asked to be removed from the website. The company refused, saying that they were bound by a contract. Her testimonial is still on the website, although she is quick to emphasize she does not support the company or its practices.

Recent Events
On June 17, I received an email from Jeff Prail, identifying himself as sComm’s Communication Access Manager, requesting a videophone meeting between Curry and me. I responded asking what it was about, and he said the negative campaign last March. sComm had ignored my messages for months, banned other dissenters and me from the sComm page, and now they suddenly wanted to talk to me via videophone? Hmm. Since sComm has clearly stated that ASL is a language inferior to English, I thought we could communicate via email instead. Two days later, I still had not heard from Curry, and followed up with Prail, who said it was on Curry’s list of things to do the following week.

A month later, after continuing to receive reports from former employees and unhappy customers, but nothing from sComm I decided to check in with Prail, who said he’d follow up with Curry. On July 14, I received the following from Curry:

Trudy,

Hi ,good day.    Good to hear from you.  We would be happy to answer any questions you have and clarify the mission and goals of sComm supporting communication for people who are deaf, hard of hearing, late deafened, and hearing.    We are all working together to provide as much access as possible for all of us. 

I look forward to hearing from you.

Jason**

What a remarkable difference in tone. I was puzzled, though, and responded:

Jason, it was my understanding that you wanted to talk to me, based on Jeff’s initial email. So let me know what you wanted to discuss.

I’m also curious why your mother is copied on this message. What’s her role?

On that note — I do have questions, but want to know what you wanted to discuss first before I ask.

Thanks,
Trudy**

He responded on July 19:

Hi Trudy,

I just got back home from being out of town last week.  Emma is actually my mother who is the Vice President and co-owner of sComm along with my dad.    I was told that you have been trying to get a hold of me to ask some questions.   I was under that impression that you wanted to talk with me.  

We would welcome the opportunity to talk with you and answer questions you might have.

I look forward to hearing from you. 

Jason**

Gee, this was getting confusing. I forwarded him Prail’s emails, and then sent him a long list of questions. The questions were quite hard-nosed, including questions about all the issues mentioned in this article, about his management style, about why the Communiphobia video was still on the sComm website (it is supposedly satirical in nature, but it portrays interpreters as dogs on leashes, implying that deaf people are leashed to them—hardly professional or respectful), and a host of other allegations. I also asked if he provided his employees with cultural sensitivity and language training, making sure they fully understood the crucial differences between ASL and English.

The day after I sent my questions, a colleague not affiliated with sComm called to see if I could somehow work this out with Curry. Apparently, Curry had contacted him (among other people) to try to convince me to not write this article. However, it seemed that I was being portrayed as anti-UbiDuo and that I was out to destroy the company.

I once again clarified that I personally had no problem with the UbiDuo, even if I didn’t have a direct need for it. I added that I thought the UbiDuo is simply a glorified laptop, but if people want to use it, especially non-signing people, more power to them. It’s certainly a viable option in some cases.

What I took, and take, issue with was the forcing of the UbiDuo upon deaf people, especially those who are unable to type perhaps because they’re too young or because they physically are unable to type, and those who are not fluent in English or another written language. I also take issue with the portrayal of interpreters as dogs, and with the portrayal of interpreters and ASL as subpar to English.

On July 22, Curry replied:

Good afternoon Trudy,

Thanks for sending over your list of questions.  It is important to us to clear up any miscommunication or misunderstanding regarding sComm’s vision position, philosophy, ad goals, particularly as it relates to the use of interpreters and other modes of communication.

Most importantly, as part of our core philosophy from the beginning of our company, we designed the UbiDuo as a n additional communication option for deaf, hard of hearing, and late deafened people who sign or don’t sign.  We believe a variety of communication options including interpreters VRS, VRI, and CART are important for anyone.

It has never been our intention or desire to pitch UbiDuo as a pure replacement for interpreters. In fact while we’re avid users of UbiDuo ourselves, we also use interpreters for staff meetings and other meetings in general.  They’re an essential part of how we communicate.

The materials currently posted on Facebook and Twitter do not talk about UbiDuo replacing interpreters.  We believe interpreters are important, but we also strive to help empower deaf, hard of hearing, late-deafened and hearing people maximize their communication tools. 

We also recognize the many important diverse modes of communication such as ASL, PSE, SEE, Cued Speech, and other forms of sign language.

In our company’s video apology we pointed out incorrect comments made on Facebook about interpreters did not reflect properly our views and philosophy.  We regret those comments.  We regret those mistakes.  In our press release we reiterated our philosophy about maximizing communication options.  Options are great.  The more the better.

Our mission today is the same as the day we started:  We want to help bridge the communication gap between deaf, hard of hearing, late-deafened, and hearing people in a face-to-face situation using the UbiDuo as a part of that.  We’re proud of our product and our customers.

As a side note, we note that you have asked a number of questions regarding our company financials, employees, ad former employees, customers, and other personal matters.  sComm, which is a privately held company, considers information regarding those topics to be highly confidential, and in some instances legally-protected trade secrets.  As is the standard practice for nearly all privately-owned companies, we do not share that information with outside parties.  We hope you will respect our decision on this point.

Thank you forgiving us the opportunity to share our vision, position, philosophy, and goals of sComm. I really appreciate you giving us the chance to explain our stance on these important matters.

All the best to you,

Jason**

Spin-doctoring at its best, I thought, but it was how I expected him to respond. In reviewing the sComm Facebook page, comments and posts indeed have been toned down. There seem to be less censoring and removal of questions and comments by people who challenge the sComm approach.

What Now?
So, what now? As I said in my open letter, I am relentless about ensuring that sComm appropriately represents the deaf community. By presenting itself as a deaf-owned company, sComm must remember at all times that every single thing it does, including its sales, directly reflects upon the deaf community. Past comments have created dangerous misconceptions especially among hearing entities and providers of what constitutes accessible communication, and disregard the main requirement of accessibility: meeting the individual’s needs. Forcing people to use the UbiDuo can be life-threatening, as evidenced by the many personal stories shared via social media.

sComm must also present UbiDuo as an option, not as the sole method of communication. The deaf community must continue to hold sComm accountable for any and all of its misinformation, miseducation and misdeeds. sComm should continue to improve its practices, respect those who are in the community, correct its mistaken messages with previous, current and future providers, and strengthen its commitment to doing what is right.

* Names have been changed.

** All emails and posts have been shared exactly how they were written. They have not been edited in any way. 

This article cannot be copied, reproduced, or redistributed without the written consent of the author.

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Comments

  1. fred banks says:

    I believe that not all patients are able to use devices other than interpretors. There will be times that the patients cannot type or write notes due to their types of care. The interpretors is most useful as they almost always have their vision. I believe that ASL interpretors is the best method for most patients.

  2. William Anthony Jones says:

    I have read it! “where is this ycoming from?”I painted something about my childhood when I child was abused or neglected so how can (he or she) communicates without ASL or English that occurred in the 70’s and today that a kid understand his or her kite outside the window! …..Gallaudet’s protest doesn’t prevail for customers to see their own kite through the house window! (Hint)

  3. George Martin says:

    Regarding a company any company who choose to say that they have products for THE Deaf and HOH, AND TO SAY THEY ARE AN DEAF OWNED COMPANY. I understand sometimes businesses messes up on their marketing strategy and sometime damages can be long time fixes. That said it seems that Trudy did her job to get to the bottoms of all this drama sorting out all details as much as she could. I applaud you doing so and did a great job of it.

    i hope the company to create a new marketing team and let go the staff who tend to pull them company in the wrong direction. This other person should be either let go or put in a different dept. That has no contact with employees or customers.

    Trudy do you know of any Deaf Marketing team who up for this job? I mean the company has to be willing to let a team come in and do a make over and set policies and procedures that will benefit everyone. This is my 2 cents.
    George Martin
    Fishers IN

  4. This is the best investigative article I’d ever read. Hands waving. But on the other hand, it is very unfortunate for a deaf-owned business (sort of) owner who is not willing to work out issues or admit their mistakes. Really shame.

  5. Jack Frost says:

    Woah woah George Martin. The staff didn’t pull the company in the wrong direction, don’t blame them, this wasn’t their fault at all. All the fault here is on Jason Curry and Emma Curry, two people who do not know how to run a business and manipulate and harass their employees and treat them as 3rd class citizens.

  6. Former employee of sComm says:

    Hi Trudy, As a former employee of sComm I want to THANK you for this article on sComm. Your article speaks the truth, and as it was/is and does not fabricate one bit what the environment was like working for sComm and continues to be as I keep hearing. After a couple months there, I finally saw what everyone else was warning me about. But, I stayed for a year because Jason kept promising a huge bonus and I mean HUGE after a big sale. That bonus would have helped me financially and allow me to get out and look for a better job. However, he kept sabotaging every sale so that huge bonus never came. As a former victim of domestic violence, I started seeing all the signs and symptoms of apologizing and making empty promises after every outburst. I then realized he was controlling us and making empty promises he didn’t intend on keeping. So, whenever he acts nice and makes promises…I knew not to trust him. He has a history of changing his stories and denying he ever said it. It was VERY difficult working with him when he kept changing everything on a daily basis and blaming us for all the problems. One day he threatened us to use the UbiDuo ALL the time at all our appointments and not use interpreters. He said “You work for me, you use the UbiDuo ALL the time!” We tried telling him it’s our choice to choose what we want to use…he would not accept it and was really ugly at us. He says in his letter to you he supports all modes of communication…I am telling you he is lying. He looks down on the Deaf community and does not think we can function in this hearing world like he can. I have tried educating him about Deaf culture, Deaf/Blind and Hard of Hearing and encouraging him to expand to more products that would meet various of needs. Jason would not see to it. He felt the UbiDuo was one size fits all and there was no need to come up with other products. And anytime I tried to bring up ideas on this, he would get very mad at me. Jason and my office shared the same wall and on many occasions I could feel him hitting walls, desks and screaming. On the day I walked out, his tantrums were worse, a thousand times worse than a five year old tantrums AND terrifying. I suffered from crying spells and nightmares for a couple months after I left. Today I am still terrified of him…I hope I never cross paths with this sociopath. Perhaps now more people will see the truth with your article and stop supporting his business.

  7. Sam I Am says:

    While reading an article I always find it quite helpful to hear options from both sides. I noticed here that this article seems to be very one sided.. is there not one happy customer or story to be told on the other side of this? I can see how some may wording may have been upsetting to some,by the way some comments were worded and Trudy I do understand that but this article seems like vindictive rant more than an informative article.

  8. “Sam I Am,” I would normally agree. However, for this article, I obviously reached out to sComm and Mr. Curry several times. I shared the full text of his responses, both to the public and to me; it was up to him on how he wanted to respond. I also believe sComm has plenty of testimonials on its website and social media outlets. I also do not know of anyone who would support the use of “militant fucks” or “cunt bitch” by a company CEO about its employees and potential customer base. I could be wrong.

    Perhaps you, being from the Independence, Mo., area, could share your positive experiences and put your name behind your testimonial. That would help support your perspective.

  9. Another Ex Employee of sComm says:

    “Former employee of sComm” is 100% correct. I was scared to work for Jason Curry during the few months I have worked there. He also promised me to change my life around financially after I told him everything that was going with me, I believed him. Then he started to back track on things. In terms of the bonus that he told me he has going to give me, it was huge, like HUGE “once he becomes a billionaire” which would happen soon, according to him. This article cannot be any more true, Jason is a psychopath and a liar too, I’ve been tracking his outbursts and it’s like he gets a period every 28 days. I seriously put his moody days into a period tracker application and it all lined up, not even joking. I was able to tell when in May (For example) he would go psycho, and he did. During the months that I have worked there, I accumulated 500 unpaid overtime hours that I have tracked. Now I am stuck on what to do because I have no idea how to reclaim that money. Just that alone can turn my life around, but Jason isn’t the kind of person that will send me a check for those hours. He’s tight fisted when it comes to spending any money at all.

  10. I see Jason’s antics have not changed in the least bit. I was a teenager when I first met him years ago at a camp in Nebraska. He took the liberty of informing me I had really cheap shoes and he deduced I was from a poor family. Whoo, what a smart kid but he sure stunk when it came to social skills. Stay classy, Jason.

  11. John Pirone says:

    This article is well-written, fair, and objective. I commend you for taking the audacity to make the inconvenient truth known to us. You are doing this for the truth and we thank you for that. it is unfortunate that sComm has chosen a path that separates them from us. Hey, I do not view this comment option as the replacement for ASL interpreters, sorry!

  12. sComm Ex-Employee says:

    All sComm does is fire people and harass their employees and lie about their stance. When I attended a conference for sComm, they paid or told someone to watch over me like I’m a little kid, and they thought I didn’t know.. it was super obvious. Like Becca said, they do things behind their employees’ backs thinking they don’t know. Hiding sales commissions? Oh they do that. Not paying overtime? They do that too! Waking you up at 3 AM, 4 AM, 5 AM, 6 AM on weekends and weekdays to ask you stupid questions or just to chat? Telling you to do ridiculously stupid tasks at the last second to see if you’ll talk back. Yep, that’s in their blood. Do they care? Not at all. It’s harassment and they don’t give a rat’s ass. What happens when you question them or tell them it’s not acceptable? As many employees have said, they boot you right out the door. He has multiple personalities so don’t let him fool you. Regarding him having a period every 28 days, boy oh boy that is true, everyone in the office tracked it. What’s going to happen in like 3-5 days, Jason and his mommy Emma Curry will go and put together another apology video saying blah blah blah “He is so sorry, he’s been going through lots of ‘stress'” blah blah blah. All employees were treated fairly, blah blah blah and then send it over to us thinking we’ll believe it, but we’re far smarter to see right through him.

    Here’s something Trudy didn’t cover in her article, when Emma trains companies via webinars or tries to sell them the UbiDuo, she tells them lip reading is considered “bluffing” and then they continue their stance on interpreters. They have a slide called “Jason’s favorite slide” that features a calendar that shows what a deaf person’s job is like without the UbiDuo and what one is with the UbiDuo. The one without the UbiDuo takes a hard hit on interpreters saying, “a person cannot do their job or communicate with their employer without a UbiDuo.” It’s all a big fat ugly joke.

  13. Jeff Beatty says:

    Excellent and well-thought-out article! ~ Respect our choices to choose that fit our needs. sComm must be accountability and transparency themselves toward Deaf communities and workplace.

  14. Paul Kiel says:

    Trudy,
    Thanks for exposing that ill-fated company for its illegal practices and human resources nightmares! I see it happening before with another deaf and a meddling mother in another state. It is pretty sad when mothers are “bossy” and “demanding”. With the tone they set in its philosophy and disrespectful attitudes, their sales may crash and go out of business.

    I do not like people like them abusing the system to get what they want. I find it annoying how they portray Deaf people as 2nd class citizens. They are so absorbed to the point they are out of reality and lacking respect.

    I never liked that equipment as it cannot express my true feelings when I communicate. I rather use sign language interpreter.

    Thanks,
    Paul

    P.S. These words are mine and it is protected under 1st amendment (Freedom of Speech). Those representatives of sComm or Jason Curry/even his mom – do not bother me or harrass me in any way shape or form. Back off and leave the Deaf community alone!

  15. Susan Stange says:

    Hi Trudy,

    You have done yeoman’s duty in this wonderful investigative journalism piece, leaving no stone un-turned as you dug into the case. As to the accusation of one sided-ness, I would offer that as your earlier articles posted, there was plenty of opportunity for satisfied sComm employees and users to come forward. You contacted former employees and to a one they agreed that the marketing, and business practices not to mention the harassment, abuse and under compensation were all of a one. The fact that several former sComm employees have come forward in the comments thread here strengthens your credibility as a journalist. Being a journalist you know that during the investigative phase of developing a thesis and article or series of articles, you look for input from all angles to which you have access. If a narrative develops that clearly favors/disfavors the subject then it is the journalist’s job is to show the overwhelming imbalance of opinion. Investigative journalism does not bear the burden of the falsehood of neutrality, those who investigate a wrong (and it’s always a wrong) usually do indicate that they do so, not only for exposing the wrong, but most importantly to move readers to activism. Bravo Ms Suggs!

  16. sComm Ex-Employee says:

    They are continuing their bullshit stance on interpreters on Twitter now thinking people are not watching.

    “If you’re #deaf miscommunication and bluffing occurs a lot. Thank goodness we don’t have to use outdated #technology. ”

    https://twitter.com/sCommNews/status/626269354422697984

    What outdated technology is that Jason Curry? VRS? VRI? Or your glorified laptop.

    Seems like you haven’t learned your lesson going against interpreters… You stopped doing that on Facebook, now you are going after Twitter hard.

    “#hospitals, what to do if #interpreter shows up late for #deaf patient in emergency care?”

    “https://twitter.com/sCommNews/status/626267291055820800”

    You’re messed up sComm. Karma will bite you in the ass.

  17. Jenny Witteborg says:

    Trudy!

    Thank you for your persistence and social-activism.

    You inspire me!

    Be well

    Jenny

  18. sComm Ex-Employee says:

    Apparently, sComm has blocked Trudy Suggs from Twitter. They’ve also insulted many of the deaf people who are calling them out on their insulting actions.

    They are now saying that ASL isn’t an effective form of communication.

    This was the Tweet they sent out:
    #hospitals, what to do if #interpreter shows up late for #deaf patient in emergency care?
    https://www.facebook.com/sComm/videos/vb.163112039793/10153085909444794/?type=2&theater … pic.twitter.com/lYO7m9inaN

    Response from Louis: @sCommNews That is a misleading communiphobia!!! Do not insult Deaf People’s rights for effective ASL communications!
    https://twitter.com/DeafBowTie/status/626432556225929216

    sComm’s Response: @DeafBowTie Thank you for input! Effective communication is important to all signing and non-signing deaf and hard of hearing people.
    https://twitter.com/sCommNews/status/626434977391972352

    AND THEN THIS:

    @DeafBowTie And, yes, that includes ASL!
    https://twitter.com/sCommNews/status/626435154358054913

    Did they seriously just call ASL a non-effective form of communication? Oh my Lord.

  19. sComm Ex-Employee says:

    Please leave a NEGATIVE review about sComm on the following websites stating how cruel, vile, rude and despicable they are towards their customers and their employees. By doing so, you’ll warn others who may want to purchase UbiDuo or purchase the product!!!!

    BBB: http://www.bbb.org/kansas-city/business-reviews/hearing-aids-and-assistive-devices/scomm-in-raytown-mo-1000006030/

    Yelp: http://www.yelp.com/biz/scomm-inc-raytown

    Google+ https://plus.google.com/+sCommRaytown/about

    LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/scomm

    Yellowpages: http://www.yellowpages.com/raytown-mo/mip/scomm-inc-2487212

    Yahoo: https://local.yahoo.com/info-93843847-scomm-incorporated-kansas-city

    Please also leave a complaint here at NAD: http://nad.org/contactus

    THANK YOU!!!!!!

  20. Trudy ~
    Finally had the time to read this report. I appreciate your work so much.
    Thank you for bring us all up to date.
    You’re the best.
    ~ Sandra

  21. sComm Ex-Employee says:

    sComm is currently at the NCIL Conference. Make sure you phone NCIL and tell them that you don’t appreciate that they allow sComm to be an exhibitor there because of how they treat the deaf and hard of hearing.

    This is their contact information:

    Electronic
    fax: 202.207.0341
    email: ncil@ncil.org
    web: http://www.ncil.org
    Phone
    voice: 202.207.0334
    toll free: 877.525.3400
    tty: 202.207.0340

  22. Kafir Katy says:

    Has it occurred to you that interpreters might be profiting off of Deaf people, booking themselves out of jobs? Have you noticed the current trend that the Higher Education hiring requirements for hiring ASL teacher have dropped this crucial key credential – ASLTA and moved over to RID only, and CERTAINLY the interpreting community hasn’t cried out against this dropping ASLTA practice… THUS PUTTING DEAF ASL TEACHERS OUT OF JOBS!

    Have you noticed that the companies who employ deaf employees find that they have to cut corners when communicating with their own peers – cutting off interpreters because they’re the ones that book 2 hour services for 10-15 minutes of meetings? They resort to using pen/paper method, even laptop method…just to save cost. Now, UbiDuo provides deaf people in relief of choosing communication method, saving the company money in the long run. Heck, using UbiDuo even would improve literacy among deaf people! I had my first experience of using UbiDuo recently and fell in love with it.

  23. Al Alvord says:

    Trudy,
    I am glad that you brought it up out to Deaf Community. I agreed with you 100%. I was a former Olathe (KS) resident and met Jason in around (I think) 2004. He showed us a new devices. At first, I thought it was great for a simple common communication with employees.

    Jason told me that I may work for him but never happened (I am glad that I NEVER work for him!!!). He probably was afraid that I will explain to buyers and mess business up. See below:

    He mentioned to me about the interpreter are not good and they misunderstand often. I replied him that it depends on each individual interpreter with their level skills and there are many high skills interpreters around………. He still disagreed with me. I explained that that devices were great for simple communication with employees, hotel desks, rental cars at airport, or whatever BUT NOT at the hospitals, doctors, police, lawyers, job interviews, employee’s evaluation with supervisor, and whatever. I told him that he needs to inform the buyers that they can’t force Deaf person to use that devices instead of an interpreter. He disagreed

    Also, he mentioned me that the Deaf will improve their English grammars and I tried to tell him that not all of them but probably some yes. He still disagreed and said if Deaf uses the device every day and their language will get better. I told him it will NOT happen to ALL Deaf but some – yes.

    One time I heard that Scomm tried to sell devices to Olathe Police Dept and I informed my friend, who was a board of Olathe Police, and she explained to chief. I was glad that they listened to my friend and decided not to purchase. The interpreters at Olathe Medical Center told me that they refused to purchase the devices.

    Many of us Deaf are afraid of that devices will mess up our rights. For example, about 25 years ago I was in emergency room and I requested an interpreter. They refused and brought a small tty that we can type back and forth. They felt that tty is enough. I fought and reported to Dept of Justice. (Yes, I won). Now, I am worried that it will happen like this.

    As an ASL teacher at high school, I taught my second year students about the communication between hearing and Deaf. (interpreters, VRS, etc). I asked students for their opinion about Scomm, I was impressed and applauded to my students when they said that their devices may not work for several reasons! They said that writing back and forth and devices are the same thing.

    I tried to tell Jason to not to mess our Deaf’s rights over and over and he was too stubborn like a mule. Now his mother, Emma and he turned our Deaf’s rights into disaster and made us suffering more.

    Thank you Trudy!!
    Al

  24. This is all pretty disturbing, at least as far as the business practices of sComm’s principals go. My workplace (a government agency) has obtained a UbiDuo 2 for use at my station and it’s supposed to be set up today. We saw this demonstrated last month by the agency that provides assistive equipment for government employees and were quite impressed at the time, but if I’d known all this earlier I might have been more cautious. Well, I just hope the UbiDuo 2 does work the way it’s supposed to (my workplace has also procured an iPad with Dragon Dictation installed for mobile communications and that’s being issued to me today as well).

  25. Apparently, my comment hasn’t been published after a year… trying it again,

    Two things in mind.
    1) The disgruntled employee comments – gauging the tone of the comments, one would easily ascertain the whole approach is clearly an intentional overkill (meaning: the commenter didn’t offer constructive criticism in how to improve the situation – build up the community). None of that was offered. I’m pretty sure if you had a disgruntled employee – SURELY she/he’d trash your reputation.
    2) Being totally deaf and mute myself – I do not use hearing aids at all, so to make up for that, I use my UbiDuo2 device instead.

    UbiDuo2 takes me to places far more than relying on interpreters – 24/7 anywhere.

    My concern here RIGHT NOW is why aren’t deaf people going after ASL students and SL interpreters’ youtube vids, especially the ones with ads enabled.

    Disparity right there.

  26. Libby, apologies. I didn’t see this in the comments line-up for approval.

    For #1 — actually, no. There were at least five so-called “disgruntled employees” who spoke to me on condition of anonymity. Many of them are respected community leaders and/or members, and so it was really eye-opening to see many of the correspondence and ways the UbiDuo company owner spoke to them. Very sexist and misogynist, not to mention inappropriate.

    #2 – There is plenty of action on that end. And I’ve written about that as well.

    I’m happy you appreciate your UbiDuo. It’s a tool that definitely can work for some people. That’s not the issue here. Thanks for your input!

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