Father wants to help deaf daughter after her miscommunication at McDonald’s

Reporter: Sydney Persing Writer: Drew Hill
Published: Updated:
mcdonalds miscommunication
Credit: Dave Lander

A father is fighting for change after a miscommunication involving his daughter at a McDonald’s.

WINK News introduced you to Brenda Lander last week. It’s the story of a deaf mom and daughter visiting the Fort Myers fast-food restaurant where no one could understand her or even tried to. Lander went to McDonald’s with her 10-year-old daughter. There was some miscommunication, and she said she waited for 30 minutes for her happy meal or at least for a refund. Then, she asked for a manager. That’s when, Lander said, the manager couldn’t understand her, grew frustrated and “shooed” her away. They left without food or a refund – and with hurt feelings.

In our May 17 article, we reported that Landers said the manager was “very aggressive, not sensitive to anything, she would not take down the mask, listen to me, even take down a piece of paper and write, some other way to communicate with me.”

Most people don’t know sign language and, sometimes, people just aren’t nice. Lander said that this recent incident felt different to her. No one, not an employee or a customer, cared to help her.

“Usually, people want to help, but that day there was nobody. Here I am, a woman with a disability and there was nobody there to help me out. People were staring at me, and I was feeling very embarrassed.”

Lander went back to the car and cried to her daughter, who is also deaf.

The company said they take these matters seriously. But, according to Lander’s dad, that isn’t enough. He called their response disappointing.

Few stories are both heartbreaking and heartwarming.

“In high school, some kid spit on her because she was deaf,” said Dave Lander.

Raising a deaf daughter means he has witnessed cruelty. But, in raising Brenda, he’s also witnessed strength.

“She took clarinet lessons when she was in grade school, which we thought that might be a silly thing to do because we knew it would fail. Guess what? She got an A. She got an A for her guts.”

That’s what the proud dad said he wants to see from the people in charge of this McDonald’s where his daughter says she was ignored, mistreated and humiliated.

Inspired by his daughter, Dave got the guts to write a letter to the people responsible for her pain. He read the letter and, in it, said “it is very obvious you missed the point of the interview on WINK.”

Brenda wanted McDonald’s to admit what its employees did to her was wrong and to promise it wouldn’t happen to anyone else.

Brenda’s dad says instead, McDonald’s offered her the food she never received and a refund. Her humiliation was valued at a mere $17.52.

“If you think this is going away by offering Brenda a cheeseburger, you’re sorely mistaken,” he said.

So you may be wondering what the heartwarming part of this story is? It’s a father’s defense of and love for his daughter.

“If I can help in some way, that way, I’d love to be able to…because I’m so proud of Brenda,” he said, getting emotional.

He said he’ll never stop advocating for basic American Sign Language courses and sensitivity training for businesses.

You can read Dave Lander’s full letter below:

I read with disbelief the “stamped out” apology you sent to my daughter. It starts with the same wording, “we take these matters seriously” when you obviously don’t.  It took a week to come up with this shallow meaningless letter.

I noted that there was no apology from the extremely rude manager whose actions were absolutely unacceptable. I do hope you have reviewed your tape and witnessed the terrible treatment your manager inflicted on her. A service oriented business making a handicapped person leave crying without their food or a refund, Really??

It is very apparent that you missed the whole point of the report on WINK. You offered to refund (of course you will) her money and have a meal on us. Seriously???? She doesn’t want free food at a place where she was totally humiliated.  In case you don’t realize it, this has been all over facebook with an unbelievable amount of shares. They are very negative towards McDonalds and your public image locally is at stake to do something positive

Brenda is a very capable and intelligent (IQ 140) person who teaches families American Sign Language at DHHC. She is a force in the deaf community. She wants to know that McDonalds is serious about how they instruct and train their people to communicate with deaf people.

Your reply on WINK TV that you had tried to contact Brenda but had no success was bogus.She checked her email and texts with no communication from you. (Surely you would not try to call a deaf person on a land line)? Only after she contacted the WINK reporter, who obviously followed up, did you respond. The only communication her mother has had was the redundant, “We take these matters seriously” stamped out letter obviously out of the McDonalds form book. The same one you sent WINK to bamboozle viewers how serious you were.

If you think this going to go away by offering Brenda a Cheeseburger you are quite mistaken.  Our lawyer is currently checking with ADA as to if this is in violation of the disabilities act. Sadly it could have all been prevented with some compassion and understanding.


David W. Lander
p.s. We take these matters seriously too!!!!!!”

WINK News reached out to McDonald’s for comment on the letter, but we have not yet heard back. Last week, in a statement, they had this to say:

We take these matters seriously as they are not representative of our values. We work hard every day to treat all of our employees and customers with dignity and respect. – Arch Management

Copyright ©2024 Fort Myers Broadcasting. All rights reserved.

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without prior written consent.