An uphill fight

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

It will be18 years since the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act on July 25, yet the discrimination against seen and unseen persons who depend on accessibility continues to be an uphill fight.

The letter written by Teresa A. McDonald points out just one example how fast someone’s disability is challenged by another [‘‘Think twice,” Maryland Independent, July 2].

This type of attack is well known within the deaf community as well. Every day deaf people are denied their rights to access when they call a doctor’s office and request a qualified interpreter.

Just as McDonald’s husband needed accessibility to obtain goods and services from Wal-Mart, deaf people have the same right to get these services when they need health care.

Routinely someone in a medical office just says no to a request for an interpreter. More often than not, it is ignorance that causes this to happen, even though the ADA has been in existence for 18 years.

Hospitals, doctors, nursing homes etc. are staffed with people who take it upon themselves to judge a person with no apparent disability and deny them their rights.

Teresa, when this happens inside a medical setting, don’t worry about getting them to do some kind of community service; next time contact the U.S. Department of Justice and file a complaint. Do you realize that the penalty for a first offense for discrimination is up to $55,000?

That should get anyone’s attention who simply chooses to discriminate.

For more information on the ADA, visit the U.S. Dept of Justice Web site at⁄ and read through the various settlements. One can see that enforcement is taken to a higher degree of seriousness than doing a couple hours of community service; the fines enforced hit them in the pocketbook.

Diane Edge, Waldorf