Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Reflecting the ADA after 19 years; Successful for Deaf people?

We recently celebrated the 19th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) 1990. While certain populations with disabilities would consider the ADA a huge success. These populations include mostly those with physical disabilities (e.g. see ramps, elevators).

The jury appears to still be "out" when discussing the effectiveness of the ADA for deaf people. For starters, employment for the deaf (and also for disabled people) remains very poor. While most accommodations are already provided for certain disability populations such as braille, wheelchairs, ramps, elevators and so on, many professional agencies including doctors and hospitals continue to refuse to provide interpreting services for the deaf. It is the year 2009, 19 years past; we are still being denied these services. Deaf education continues to fail. While many will caution that it is not ADA that causes deaf education to fail, but rather the lack of deaf teachers, the decline of institutions, and the poor structure of IDEA/NCLB for the deaf, but ADA does play a big role on not having to require k-12 educational facilities to have a certified interpreter for deaf students in these settings. This is a poor insight on the ADA.

Could have the ADA done a better job for the deaf? If so, how?

One other major issue within the deaf community is whether we, as a deaf linguistic minority, should even be categorized as disabled. This is a very sticky issue. Yes, on a local level, we are not disabled, but on the national level, we do share similar oppression and discrimination as other disabled populations. If we want to distingiush ourselves separate from the disabled populations and claim that we are just a linuguistic minority like the Chinese, Japanese, Italians, Spanish, and so on, then if we were to request an interpreter, it would be denied because we are not disabled...but rather would have to bring our own "translator" like any other minority population.

What's yout take?