Saturday, January 8, 2011

National Association of the Deaf files complaint against DC Boy Scouts for failure to provide ASL interpreter

From NAD:

The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) and the law firm of Chason, Rosner, Leary & Marshall L.L.C., filed a complaint in federal court against the National Capital Area Council, Boy Scouts of America (NCAC), alleging that the NCAC has failed to ensure effective communication for one of its troop members, Wolfgang Staley, who is deaf. The complaint was filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Maryland.

Despite requests by the boy’s mother, Cindy Officer, the NCAC has refused to provide ASL interpreters at troop meetings and at their monthly outgoings. The NCAC troop meetings and monthly outgoings include immense amount of information, including safety information, which cannot be effectively communicated to Wolfgang other than through an ASL interpreter. As such, he is deprived of full participation in various Boy Scouts activities and unable to reap benefits that other boys of the NCAC enjoy, whether it is an opportunity to create intimate friendships with fellow troop members or develop leadership skills during a weekend outgoing.

“The NCAC refusal to provide ASL interpreters violates Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. Their actions discriminate against Wolfgang Staley solely based on his deafness, and against Cindy Officer based on her association with Wolfgang Staley,” said Debra Patkin, NAD Law and Advocacy staff attorney. “The NAD requests that the U.S. District Court declare that the NCAC refusal to provide interpreters at its events is a violation of the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act. The filing further requests that the court award money damages to the plaintiffs.”

“The intent of the ADA was to promote and ensure inclusion of individuals with disabilities in daily activities. The NAD is committed to removing communication barriers that discriminate against deaf and hard of hearing people,” said NAD President Bobbie Beth Scoggins. “They should be granted the same opportunities for teamwork, leadership, socialization, and skill building that the NCAC provides to hundreds of boys in the District of Columbia and nearby counties.”