Only two weeks ago, a House of Lords report on the Equality Act showed how laws designed to protect deaf and disabled people “simply aren’t working in practice.”
However, this NY Times article shows how, in America, a series of lawsuits has shown that the Americans with Disabilities Act can be enforced, resulting in greater awareness of the protection offered by the law.
Last year, the city’s Department of Homeless Services settled a case that charged its shelters with failing to provide American Sign Language interpreters for deaf residents, and a suit filed last summer in Westchester County claimed that two hospitals refused a deaf couple’s requests for interpreters after the husband had a heart attack.
Another case involved Diana Williams, a deaf woman from Staten Island who was arrested in 2011 and was denied a sign-language interpreter, as the federal law dictates. In October, the Police Department settled her lawsuit for $750,000. Her lawyers, from the Eisenberg & Baum Law Center for Deaf and Hard of Hearing, said it was one of the biggest payouts of its kind.
“What’s disturbing about all these lawsuits is that the A.D.A. has been in effect for several decades,” Eric Baum, one of the firm’s founders, recently said. Mr. Baum said that his firm had litigated about 100 deaf discrimination cases, roughly half in the New York metropolitan area, many dealing with a failure to provide interpreters. He was sitting in the Union Square office alongside the Law Center’s co-directors: Andrew Rozynski, a lawyer and fluent A.S.L. signer whose parents are deaf, and Sheryl Eisenberg-Michalowski, a deaf rights liaison who was born deaf.
Read the full article here: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/27/nyregion/deaf-and-hard-of-hearing-fight-to-be-heard.html?_r=0
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