Relman Colfax, together with the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia, brought this case in federal court on behalf of deaf and hard-of-hearing residents of Washington, D.C. and the nonprofit organization DeafREACH, challenging the failure of the D.C. Housing Authority (DCHA) to provide sign language interpreters.
Plaintiffs Jacqueline Young and Latheda Wilson rely on American Sign Language (ASL) to communicate. The complaint alleged that DCHA engaged in this pattern of discrimination for years; time and again, interpreters were promised but not actually provided, and appointments were repeatedly cancelled for lack of any means of communication.
The lawsuit alleged that DCHA's failure to provide ASL interpreters violated Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Fair Housing Act.
On March 12, 2014, Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia denied DCHA's motion to dismiss plaintiffs' claims. On February 28, 2015, Judge Kollar-Kotelly approved a settlement agreement requiring the D.C. Housing Authority (DCHA) to revamp its policy for providing American Sign Language interpreters and other aids to ensure that people with hearing impairments can secure equal access to DCHA programs, like the Housing Choice Voucher and public housing. The agreement also required DCHA to pay $350,000 in monetary relief.
Young v. District of Columbia Housing Authority, No. 1:13-cv-00652 (D.D.C.)
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- The Washington Post, 05.08.2013