English: A collection of pictograms. Three of ...

English: A collection of pictograms. Three of them used by the United States National Park Service. A package containing those three and all NPS symbols is available at the Open Icon Library (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The American with Disabilities Act is vital to people with disabilities. Although, deaf individuals do not consider themselves disabled they are included in this Act. The ADA prohibits individuals and/or businesses from discriminating against a disabled individual in forums of public accommodations/stores/businesses, employment, state and local governments and telecommunications. These sectors must provide reasonable accommodations to disabled persons depending on the disability and circumstance. Some of the most common accommodations that are well-known is the use of an American Sign Language Interpreter, Closed Caption on media devices such as T.V.s, and Teletype communications devices on public phones but more commonly used  now are videophones. If you are a person with a disability please become familiar with the ADA Law as it is a good resource and form of protection for you.The world we live in there are still companies and individuals who are not familiar with ADA when dealing with persons who have disabilities. They are not aware of the reasonable accommodations they must provide. If you take the time to educate yourself, you can educate others to be able to help provide you with equal opportunities/access and services as the hearing and non-disabled communities receive.

An example of  the lack of education on the behalf of organizations is my twin brother who was deaf  died at the age of 32 of congestive heart failure. The last year of his life I became his care provider although I had somewhat been a provider to him all of our lives as the only hearing child in the family. That role was fine for me growing up and remained the same until the day he passed. My brother was somewhat familiar with the ADA and utilized his rights when necessary but as he became more ill it was a challenge to stand against a hearing world. My brother entered hospitals frequently, there were several hospitals where we were well-known. One in particular because we had to go through several levels of management to have an interpreter placed at the hospital. This stemmed from doctors and nurses giving my brother medicine and explaining vital procedures without an interpreter. The hospital felt he could read the information they wrote on a tablet (which I kept all the tablets) but this was not good practice because they assumed he understood what they wrote and if something medically negative happened it would be their responsibility. There have been times as an educator with a higher level degree where I do not understand medical lingo and need to retrieve a dictionary or ask the doctor to explain it in layman’s terms.  Therefore, relying on written communication is not the best choice. Since written communication was not successful, the hospital asked if I could be there during certain times to interpret information, I am a full-time employed teacher, wife and mother, I would do anything for my brother but there are times my schedule would not permit. So what did I do, you might wonder. I moved up the chain of command, we had a discussion as nice as possible about ADA and I shared documentation and the next day my brother had an interpreter (reasonable accommodation). The interpreter was not there around the clock but the nurses/doctors knew to share important information when either the interpreter or I was present to ensure my brother had access to communication and knowledge of health related topics. I am grateful I could make a difference for him and help him obtain communication by advocating on his behalf.

To sum it up, knowing your rights makes a difference. I do not encourage abuse or bullying when using the ADA and asking for unreasonable accommodations. I encourage using the ADA when it will provide equality in communication, access, and all other forums that will support the disabled population in being successful and capable of living a limitless lifestyle.

 

Below are resources that you can view for more information about the American with Disabilities Act with an emphasis on the Deaf population.

Resources:

http://www.ada.gov/

http://www.nad.org/issues/civil-rights/ADA

http://www.captions.com/deafrigh.html

http://www.disabilitylawcenter.org/publications/ADA%20Effective%20Communication%20(2).pdf

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