As a person with hearing loss and a former Girl Scout, a recent story in the Chicago Tribune about a 12-year-old girl who is Deaf being denied sign language interpretation is disheartening. Her troop paid for an interpreter, then apparently was unable to continue doing so and disbanded. Now, the young girl’s parents are suing the troop. This is 2012, not 1982. Why should anyone have to sue to get a sign interpreter?
Sadly, litigation is the bold step that’s often needed to ensure accessibility for the deaf and hard of hearing, as well as everyone with unique physical challenges. Remember the lawsuit against Cinemark Theaters and its lack of captioned movie showings? Since then, the theater chain nationwide offers captioned movies. How about the lawsuits against CNN.com failing to provide captioned content? I blogged extensively about CNN a few months ago, and yet the news organization’s website still lacks captioned video clips.
My hope is that all Girl Scout troops will see this young girl’s case as a precedent in providing accessibility, not only for those of us with hearing loss, but other girls with unique challenges.
I recently wrote about Girl Scouts Founder Juliette “Daisy” Gordon Low on my blog. She had a significant hearing loss, and her founding of the Girl Scouts of America is nothing short of inspiring. Without the use of sign language interpreters, hearing aid amplication, or captioning in her day, Daisy did her very best to spread the word about this organization.
The girl in the lawsuit case deserves a chance to continue in scouting and should have every accomodation available to her, including a sign interpeter, live captioning, or both. Let’s hope that her Girl Scout troop and the national office will work together to pay for the interpreting before the lawsuit goes further.
How about selling a few extra boxes of cookies each year?