Deaf Teens Want Driving Schools To Provide Interpreters
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
April 11, 2006
ST. CLOUD, MINNESOTA--Five deaf teenagers are suing five private driver's education schools for failing to provide sign-language interpreters.
The Star-Tribune reported that the suit, filed in U.S. District Court at the end of last month, claims that the driving schools violated federal and state laws when they refused to accommodate the students by providing American Sign Language interpreters for them.
The teenagers seek nearly $300,000 in punitive and compensatory damages -- in part to reimburse their families who hired interpreters on their own -- but say they ultimately want the schools to change how they deal with deaf students.
"I hope we win the case," said plaintiff Heather Breitbach, 16. "But I also hope a new law gets established so all future deaf kids can take driver's ed with an interpreter and not have to fight in court about it."
The newspaper noted that the students and their parents had met with school representatives over the past year to come up with an arrangement that would work for everyone. When those talks broke down recently, the families decided to move ahead with the lawsuit.
The schools argue that furnishing sign language interpreters would cost them about 10 times the regular fee they charge to teach the course and would put them out of business.
"For deaf kids, driver's ed has extra-fee debate" (Star-Tribune)