July 2019 Louisville Courier Journal

Connie Dotson arrived back at her Lexington home last week and parked her car in her garage. After thinking she pushed the keyless ignition button to turn off the vehicle, she got out and headed inside to get to bed, without realising her car was actually still running. Dotson is deaf and did not hear a beeping sound that alerts drivers about the need to shut off their cars. Her husband was not home that night to potentially notice the mistake.

Connie Dotson

Dotson died of carbon monoxide poisoning July 9 after her attached garage and home filled with the dangerous gas. She was 54. "Connie Dotson was a true leader in the deaf community," said Virginia Moore, executive director of the Kentucky Commission on the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. "She really did a lot for deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals. It's just a big blow to us, and it's senseless."

There are about 700,000 deaf or hard-of-hearing residents in Kentucky, and similar cases to Dotson's death are growing at an alarming rate. Moore said she attended Dotson's funeral that was well-attended by members of the deaf community and heard similar stories of people forgetting to turn off their keyless ignition cars but avoiding a fatal accident.

According to the National Institutes of Health, 48 million Americans have significant hearing loss, which puts it as the third most common health issue in the country, behind heart disease and arthritis. "You need to have your key-fob with you to turn on your keyless vehicle but can walk off without it," Moore said. "... Technology has been so good to the deaf and hard-of-hearing community in terms of levelling the playing field with communication. But if you're not careful, that technology can hurt you.

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