Deaf Students Threaten Suit Over Lack Of Skilled Interpreters

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express

LOGAN, UTAH--A group of 12 deaf students has informed officials at Utah State University that they will file a discrimination lawsuit if the school does not deal with a shortage of qualified sign language interpreters in the next 60 days.

The students claim that USU is violating Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which deals with public services.

According to the Salt Lake Tribune, they allege that the university relies on classroom note-takers while urging students to sign up for only the small number of classes that have interpreters -- classes that are not necessarily the ones the students need or want. This has led some of the students to delay graduation because they could not attend the classes they needed in time to graduate.

Concerns about the lack of skilled interpreters were brought to the university's attention more than a year ago.

"They haven't done anything, and it's getting worse," said senior Jonathan Roberts, one of the students who has hired an attorney to address the problems.

School officials said they do not have enough money in the budget to hire more than one more full-time interpreter.

"Deaf students say USU doesn't provide interpreters for them" (Salt Lake Tribune)
"Deaf Students Threaten to Sue USU Over Claimed Lack of Interpreters" (Associated Press via KSL)

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November 16, 2005 - InclusionDailyNews Department | Email this story


Comments (newest comments at bottom)

"... not have enough money in the budget..." is one of the oldest excuses in the book. Schools are Title II entities and are covered by Section 504. If there is not enough money in the budget - you change the budget. Schools provide bathrooms, hot water, and services to students. Communication assistance is a normal service, is required by law, and can only be avoided if it causes "undue hardship," or, "fundamentally alters the nature of the program."

Get serious; get a clue; or, get sued!

Posted by: Larry Henzerling on November 16, 2005 01:04 PM

Arizona State University experienced a similar struggle with the lack of interpreting in 2002. We were able to get our way through the local media. While filing with DOJ is good, but i would also reach out to the local media including the student newspaper, etc. Let the city know about the shameful actions that USU is utilizing.

Posted by: Tommy Horejes on November 17, 2005 07:46 PM

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