Civil Rights & Constitutional Law
Deaf patient sues Cleveland Clinic for disability discrimination
November 13, 2015
• Practice Areas • Practices • Discrimination against deaf people
The particular rights and protections a deaf person has depends largely on where they are. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) establishes different legal frameworks for issues encountered by employees, recipients of government services, and patrons of places of public accommodations (such as restaurants, hotels, etc.) Within each framework, numerous regulations refine the boundaries of those rights.
For instance, the ADA requires that places of public accommodation provide auxiliary aid and services “as may be necessary to ensure that no individual with a disability is excluded, denied services, or otherwise treated differently than other individuals.” 42 U.S.C. § 12182(b)(2)(A)(iii). Under ADA regulations, these auxiliary aids and services can include qualified on-site interpreters and, under stringent conditions, video-remote interpretation (VRI). Depending on the situation, the failure to provide an interpreter to an individual who is deaf may violate the ADA.
The ADA is not the only law that pertains to the deaf community. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act extends protections similar to the ADA to those participating in government-funded programs. And students have further rights to an interpreter under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
Defendants in disability-discrimination cases, including those brought by individuals who are deaf or hard-of-hearing, can try to avoid liability by claiming that complying with the law would be unduly burdensome. Beating this defense requires careful development of a case’s facts and leveraging those facts to accentuate the need for sign-language interpretation.
It is important that interpretation issues receive prompt attention. Where one person is wrongly denied access to a sign-language interpreter, there are certainly others. The ability of individual who is deaf to address the problem by asserting legal protections often expires after only a short time.
At the Chandra Law Firm, we are sensitive to sign-language interpretation issues. Everyone should have the ability to effectively communicate with others, particular when the communication concerns someone’s educational, legal, or medical issues.
Contact our firm if you have experienced issues with sign-language interpretation or are otherwise experiencing discrimination as a deaf person. We can readily arrange a qualified, in-person interpreter to discuss your rights and your options with you.
You can reach our firm, which serves clients throughout Ohio and the nation, by calling 216-578-1700 (we would need to arrange an interpreter if you are not using a service of your own) or by filling out our online contact form.