Disability Law - Archive

Hastings, MN – YMCA to provide interpreter for deaf couple

July 15, 2014 in Disability Law, Interpreting & Transliterating



StarTribune, Minneapolis, MN

Concession follows lawsuit filed over swim classes at Hastings YMCA.

The YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities has agreed to provide an American Sign Language interpreter for deaf parents Jacob and Calena Lingle so they can fully participate in their daughter Aria’s swim classes at the Hastings Y.

After trying to negotiate for a year, the Lingles and their daughter, now 2½, sued the YMCA earlier this month, alleging that its refusal to provide an adequate means for them to communicate violated state and federal laws.

A day after the lawsuit was filed June 12 in Hennepin County District Court, the Lingles received an e-mail from the Y saying an interpreter would be made available, but only for the first of the seven-session Seahorse classes.

The Lingles’ attorney, Rick Macpherson, of the Minnesota Disability Law Center, said Wednesday that he received an e-mail Monday from the Y’s attorney saying the organization had decided to provide an interpreter for all the classes.

While the lawsuit has not been settled, Macpherson said the Y proposed putting the litigation on hold while it develops a new policy and resolves the other issues in the case.

“The Lingles are fine with that arrangement,” Macpherson said. “The Y has said they plan to involve representatives from the deaf community in coming up with the policy.”

The Lingles will have a role in that and the policy must be acceptable to them before they decide to settle the lawsuit. Because the suit has been filed, a judge will have to approve a timetable for the negotiations, the attorney said. Those details have not been worked out yet.

“The clients are happy they will be able to participate in the rest of the classes,” Macpherson said. “They’re committed to doing whatever they can so that the policy is a good one and works for everybody. There are lots of ways to work out cost-effective ways of doing it.”

Jacob and Calena Lingle, 27 and 25 respectively, have been deaf since birth. Their daughter can hear; her first language was ASL.

The family vacations each year on Cass Lake in northern Minnesota and wanted Aria to be comfortable in the water so she could play with her 20 cousins.

Read more . . .

Aussies debate whether to allow deaf jurors

July 11, 2014 in Disability Law, Hearing Loss & Deafness



Deaf News Today (Australia)
July 9, 2014

Article Source

Should Australian courts allow deaf citizens to serve on juries? That’s what a professor at the University of New South Wales is hoping to find out during a mock trial that will take place in Sydney. The topic became a national issue when a Queensland judge ruled a deaf woman could not sit on a jury. You can read about that here. Two of the 15 jurors in the mock trial will be deaf. Read more details about the study in the Guardian here. The deaf started sitting on juries in the U.S. 24 years ago.

July Updates: Deaf In Prison Receives 25,000+ Views

July 7, 2014 in Advocacy & Access, Community News, Disability Law



#DeafInPrison Campaign updates & information on upcoming events in the Deaf Access to Justice Movement.

De'VIA Deaf ARTActivists pose in front of the gates of Wende Correctional Instition in NY after providing an artist workshop at Wende Correctional Institution to kick of #DeafInPrison Campaign.
Packed house at HEARD's #DeafInPrison Screening Busboys and Poets ASL Poetry & Sign Songs, Washington, DC. Thanks to Jason "JT" Tozier for serving as HEARD spokesperson. "Powerful night!" say all present #ARTActivism #CommunityResponsibility 120 people! More photos to follow . . .   [Image Desc: Long room one piece of artwork covering the far wall. Many many people sit close together in a room looking toward big screen with "Deaf In Prison" playing]

#DeafInPrison Campaign Makes Waves

The Campaign has been a huge success thus far. The documentary received nearly 26,000 online views in just three days, and more than 600 people attended live viewings in California, Colorado, Minnesota, New York, Oklahoma, and Washington, D.C.

Please take a few seconds to sign & share our petition to the U.S. Department of Justice requesting national standards for inclusion of and protection for deaf incarcerated people. The ASL version of the petition can be viewed here. 


Founder Talila "TL" Lewis in Florida with Mary Ellen, HEARD Advocate for our second eldest #DeafInPrison named Bud (90 years old) #Deaf #Nonagenarian #Prison #ASL  [Image Description: TL w black rimmed glasses and bright purple shirt and Mary Ellen w light rose rimmed glasses and a light blue shirt stand in front of red pier in St. Augustine, Florida. River, trees, grass, sidewalk in the background.] Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center Photo from today's viewing of #DeafInPrison. #Colorado #Advocates #Allies

Humble thanks to Facundo Element for their support of this Campaign and to the following organizations who hosted screenings:

ASL Poetry & Sign Songs (sponsored by HEARD)
Baird Farrelly Criminal Defense, PLLC
Civil Rights Education & Enforcement Center
Department of ASL-English Interpretation at Columbia College Chicago
Deaf Communication by Innovation
Deaf Counseling, Advocacy & Referral Agency
Facundo Element
Iglesia Martell Law Firm
Pinellas Public Library Cooperative’s Deaf Literacy Center

Want more informaiton on deaf prisoners?  Take a look at HEARD’s #DeafInPrison Fact Sheet in English or ASL.

Ready to take action?

Inspiration & ideas below . . .

Gallaudet University Highlights Intern Corinna Hill

Gallaudet University wrote this articlehighlighting our former intern Corinna Hill & our work to advance Deaf Access to Justice.

The article focuses on Corinna’s work with HEARD last semester, including organizing a community engagement campaign that identified legal needs of D.C.’s Deaf Community; planning and leading the Alternative Spring Break trip for ten Cornell University students, and testifying at the Maryland House of Delegates in support of the Deaf Culture Digital Library.

Corina is quoted as saying, “I grew up thinking that the prison system was fair, and now I realize it has flaws. . . . Innocent deaf Americans are sitting in prison.” Read More>>

Support the Deaf Prisoner Phone Justice Campaign

Right now, only six prisons across the nation have videophones. Even fewer have other features that would make telecommunications universally accessible for Deaf*/CODA/Speech Challenged persons.

The Federal Communications Commission has again invited HEARD’s founder to speak about issues important to these populations at its July 9th Workshop on Further Reform of Inmate Calling Services, from 9am-4:30pm (EST). The workshop is free and open to the public, & will be live streamed for those who can not attend in person. Please show support of equal access to telecommunications for all prisoners and their families by attending or sending in deaf/disability-related questions to each panel.

For more information on HEARD’s Deaf Prisoner Phone Justice Campaign, view HEARD’s timeline here.  For more information on this workshop, please visit the FCC’s event page here.

Sign our DOJ Petition

Seen and HEARD: Corinna Hill ’14 advocates for the rights of deaf people in prison

July 3, 2014 in Disability Law, Hearing Loss & Deafness


Gallaudet Website
Article Source

Several Gallaudet University students are working to improve the American justice system for the deaf by interning with Helping Educate to Advance the Rights of the Deaf (HEARD), a D.C.-based nonprofit organization.

Corinna Hill

Gallaudet Student – Corinna Hill ’14

HEARD recently was featured in two episodes of Al Jazeera America series “America Tonight.” “Deaf In Prison” focused on the plight of deaf and hard of hearing inmates in prisons throughout the United States, and HEARD kicked off a #DeafinPrison social media campaign during which it promoted the Al Jazeera episodes on YouTube.

Corinna Hill, ’14, is one of the Gallaudet students who helped HEARD with its outreach efforts. “I grew up thinking that the prison system was fair, and now I realize it has flaws,” said Hill, a Boonsboro, Md., native who majored in history. “Innocent deaf Americans are sitting in prison.”

HEARD is a volunteer-run organization founded by American University law student Talila Lewis. After a semester-long externship with the D.C. Public Defense Service, Lewis set a mission: to improve communication accessibility for deaf prisoners and fight for those who have been wrongfully convicted.

“Only five prisons in the U.S. have videophones – Virginia, Vermont, Kentucky, Wisconsin, and Maine,” Lewis said.

There also are numerous cases of allegedly innocent deaf Americans who have been imprisoned for years, unable to tell their story and without access to interpreters or even a TTY.

Read More . . .

Deaf man names Pacific Northwest University in discrimination suit

July 2, 2014 in Disability Law


By Donald W. Meyers / Yakima Herald-Republic
Article Source 

YAKIMA, Wash. — A Utah man has filed a federal discrimination lawsuit against Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences, claiming the school refused to allow him to study medicine because he is deaf.

In court papers filed in U.S. District Court in Yakima, Zachary Featherstone said the Terrace Heights-based school violated federal and state anti-discrimination statutes, as well as breached a contract with him when it barred his enrollment. The suit seeks unspecified damages, a pledge against future discrimination and Featherstone’s enrollment in the university’s College of Osteopathic Medicine.

“It’s definitely been his lifelong dream to become a doctor, and he knows he can be successful at (PNWU) and as a doctor,” said Emily Teplin Fox, an attorney with Markowitz, Herbold, Glade and Mehlhaf in Portland, one of two law firms representing Featherstone in the suit. “They just need to give him a chance.”

Read more . . .

Senator Harkins’ Report: States Lagging On Community Living

May 29, 2014 in Community News, Disability Law



States are failing to meet their obligations to transition individuals with disabilities out of institutions and into community settings, a year-long investigation finds.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled more than a decade ago in a case known as Olmstead v. L.C. that unnecessarily segregating individuals with disabilities in institutions is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Nonetheless, a report set to be released Thursday by the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee finds that the number of people with disabilities in nursing homes is on the rise and, as of 2010, just a dozen states devoted the majority of their Medicaid dollars to community-based care.

“The Supreme Court’s decision in Olmstead was a landmark moment for the disability community,” said Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, who chairs the committee. “Yet … 14 years later, many states are still not making a commitment to provide all individuals with disabilities the choice to live in their own homes and communities. This is amazing given that study after study has shown that home and community-based care is not only what people want, but is more cost-effective.”

Last year, Harkin asked officials from all 50 states to provide him with information about their progress in transitioning individuals with disabilities out of institutions. The report being issued this week details what the senator found.

Read more  . . 

Sen. Harkins to Introduce Bill to Improve Disability Services

May 29, 2014 in Community News, Disability Law



Disability Scoop

A key U.S. senator is looking to introduce legislation to dramatically expand access to community-based services for people with disabilities nationwide.

An aide for U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, confirms to Disability Scoop that the veteran lawmaker is planning to introduce a bill this summer that would bolster the rights of people with disabilities to obtain the support they need in the communities where they live.

“(Harkin) is currently looking at developing legislation that would enhance community access, inclusion and support in order to ensure that all individuals with disabilities can receive home and community-based services and supports in their own towns, cities and neighborhoods throughout America,” Allison Preiss, a spokeswoman for the senator, told Disability Scoop.

Read More  . . .

Should Federal Judge Make Redbox DVD Obey ADA Demands?

May 22, 2014 in Captioning / Relay, Disability Law



Categories: Court

Original Source - http://blogs.ocweekly.com/navelgazing/2014/05/redbox_dvd_lawsuit.php


The success of Redbox Automated Retail DVD rentals is undeniable after capturing more than 33 percent of the national market, but one Orange County man believes the operation is callously discriminatory against deaf customers and he’s demanding compensation.

Bellevue, Washington-based Redbox has illegally “failed to provide equal access to their DVD and Blu-ray and video streaming services by refusing to make available closed captioned text for the deaf and hard of hearing–a feature that is necessary for such individuals to understand the audio portion of the video content,” according to Francis Jancik’s lawsuit.

In Jancik’s view, Redbox’s self-service, DVD rental kiosks are “places of public accommodation” and therefore fall under the requirements of The California Disabled Persons Act, the state’s Unruh Civil Rights Act and The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA).

The problem with Redbox for the deaf is that “it is difficult, if not impossible” to know in advance which movies include closed captioning, according to the lawsuit.As examples of what Jancik sees as unfair business practices, his lawsuit includes Redbox advertisements for Assault on Wall Street and The Adventures of Mickey Matson: Cooperhead Treasure; both ads erroneously claim closed caption service.

Read More  . . .

Action Alert: CRPD Fish Day– Ratify the CRPD!

May 9, 2014 in Community News, Disability Law

Can’t view this message? Read it online.

power up heading.JPG



The United States Senate has ratified FOUR international treaties to protect fish, but still has not come together to ratify the Disability Treaty. It is time for the U.S. Senate ratify the Disability Treaty to protect the rights of people with disabilities around the world.

We need YOU to take action! Call your Senators and send the image above to them via Twitter and Facebook! 

AAPD mission

American Association of People with Disabilities
2013 H Street NW, 5th Floor | Washington, DC 20006


Proposal Would Allow Service Animals In National Parks

May 1, 2014 in Community News, Disability Law

By Cheri Carlson, Ventura County Star/MCT  4/29/2014

Service dogs, and in some cases miniature horses, may be welcome in national parks, even when other animals are not.

That’s according to a National Park Service proposal to update regulations regarding service animals.

Officials are seeking public comment through June 17 on the proposed regulations.

The National Park Service “protects park resources and visitors by regulating pets and other domestic animals within park areas,” the agency says.

While service animals are allowed in parks now, the regulations have not been updated in some time. Officials said the agency proposed changes to provide “the broadest possible” accessibility to those with disabilities.

The regulations would define a service animal as a dog or a miniature horse trained to perform tasks directly related to a person’s disability.

A dog used solely for comfort or emotional support would not be considered a service animal and would be subject to regulations governing pets, the proposed rule states.

For the rest of the story: http://bit.ly/1nMD7gQ

Action Alert- Amend Social Security Act to cover Hearing Aids Under Medicare

May 1, 2014 in Community News, Disability Law


Congressman Cartwright Sponsors Bill to Cover Hearing Aids Under Medicare

Congressman Cartwright has sponsored a bill, The Help Extend Auditory Relief (HEAR) Act — HR 3015, to amend the Social Security Act to cover hearing aids under Medicare:

  • Include Medicare coverage for hearing rehabilitation services, including a comprehensive audiology assessment to determine if a hearing aid is appropriate, a threshold test to determine audio acuity, and various services associated with fitting, adjusting, and using hearing aids.
  • Include Medicare coverage for hearing aids, defined as any wearable instrument or device for compensating for hearing loss.

NVRC encourages you to contact the member of Congress who represents your district to request that he support this bill. For more information about the bill and how your representation can become a cosponsor, contact Brian Payne at 202-225-5546 or brian.payne@mail.house.gov.

For information on contacting your representative: http://www.house.gov/representatives/

Thanks to Janice S Lintz

Know Your Deaf Rights: What to Do When Dealing With the Police

May 1, 2014 in Community News, Disability Law

Being stopped by the police is difficult for everyone.
If you are deaf or hard of hearing, the experience can be worse.aclu

Marlee Matlin On Deaf And Police Interaction

The ACLU has teamed up with Academy Award-winning actress Marlee Matlin, who is deaf and the wife of a police officer, and advocacy group Helping Educate to Advance the Rights of the Deaf (HEARD) on an American Sign Language video to ensure deaf people know their rights when interacting with law enforcement.

WATCH VIDEO - https://www.aclu.org/know-your-deaf-rights-what-do-when-dealing-police

Dept of Justice Settlement with Commonwealth Rehabilitation Center

March 18, 2014 in Community News, Disability Law

3/18/2013 – NVRC applauds this recent action by the U.S. Department of Justice







(703) 842-4050


Commonwealth Health & Rehab Center Agrees to Settle Claim That It Failed to Provide Effective Communication Services to Deaf Individuals

            ALEXANDRIA, Va. – The United States Attorney’s Office announced today a $162,500 settlement under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) with Commonwealth Health & Rehab Center (“CHRC”), which is located in Fairfax County, Va. and is part of the Commonwealth Care of Roanoke’s network of skilled nursing facilities, to ensure effective communication with individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing in the provision of medical services. 

The United States Attorney’s investigation began with a complaint from the public alleging that CHRC violated the ADA by failing to provide appropriate auxiliary aids and services, including sign language interpreter services, to three individuals who are deaf (a resident of CHRC and two members of his family) during critical interactions relating to the patient’s medical care.  The complainants alleged that because of CHRC’s failure to provide sign language interpreter services, these three individuals were denied the benefit of effective communication with the skilled nursing facility’s clinical staff and the opportunity to effectively participate in treatment decisions.


“This settlement exemplifies our unwavering commitment to protect the rights of those who are deaf or hard of hearing and to ensure that they are able to communicate with health care professionals, especially when patients and their companions have critical interactions with medical providers,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Boente.


The settlement agreement requires that CHRC pay $160,000 to the three aggrieved individuals and a $2,500 penalty to the United States; provide training to the skilled nursing facility’s staff on the requirements of the ADA; and adopt specific policies and procedures to ensure that auxiliary aids and services are provided promptly to patients and companions who are deaf or hard of hearing.


This matter was handled by Assistant United States Attorney Steven Gordon, who coordinates the Civil Rights Initiative for the United States Attorney’s Office.


This case is a part of the Department of Justice’s Barrier-Free Health Care Initiative, which seeks to enforce the ADA’s prohibition of discrimination against disabled individuals by health care providers, including hospitals.  Through the Barrier-Free Health Care Initiative, U.S. Attorneys’ offices across the nation and the Department’s Civil Rights Division target their enforcement efforts on a critical area for individuals with disabilities—access to medical services and facilities.  The Barrier-Free Health Care Initiative is a multi-phase initiative that includes effective communication for people who are deaf or have hearing loss, physical access to medical care for people with mobility disabilities, and equal access to treatment for people who have HIV/AIDS.


The Department of Justice has a number of publications available to assist entities in complying with the ADA, including a Business Brief on Communicating with People Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing in Hospital Settings, at www.ada.gov/hospcombr.htm.  For more information on the ADA and to access these publications, visit http://www.ada.gov or call the Justice Department’s toll-free ADA information Line at 800-514-0301 or 800-514-0383 (TDD).  ADA complaints may be filed by email to ada.complaint@usdoj.gov.


A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia at http://www.justice.gov/usao/vae.  Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia at http://www.vaed.uscourts.gov or on https://pcl.uscourts.gov.

# # #

Deaf medical student to return to Omaha campus

March 18, 2014 in Disability Law

Posted: Mar 13, 2014 12:43 PM EDT
Updated: Mar 13, 2014 12:43 PM EDT

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) – A deaf medical school student who won a discrimination lawsuit against Creighton University . . .

Read about  . . .





Fair Housing Videos for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing

February 11, 2014 in Community News, Disability Law






The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is pleased to announce the creation of 12 videos in American Sign Language (ASL) with English captioning.  These videos provide critical legal and practical information in a format accessible to persons who are Deaf and/or Hard of Hearing.

These videos feature Deaf and/or Hard of Hearing Actors who provide important information related to fair housing and fair lending rights under the federal Fair Housing Act.

Due to their short length, these videos do not provide complete information about rights and responsibilities under fair housing laws.  If you believe you may have experienced discrimination, please contact one of the organizations identified at the end of this video.

HUD would like to thank the Disability Independence Group and the National Fair Housing Alliance for the production of these videos.

CLICK HERE to view video:  www.fairhousingdeafvideos.com