Lack of assistance for deaf not OK
Published: Sunday, June 10, 2012
Updated: Sunday, June 10, 2012 14:06
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 states that businesses and institutions can be at fault if they fail to provide services and also for “not making reasonable accommodations to the known physical or mental limitations of an otherwise qualified individual with a disability who is an applicant or employee.” This not only applies to UCF’s Student Disability Services office but also to the Student Government Association when students must go to them for assistance with finding an interpreter or other aid pertaining to extracurricular activities.
The process of obtaining an interpreter should be seamless for deaf students on campus, regardless of the need being academic or not. SGA should not be responsible for accommodating students at events; this should be handled by the Student Disability Services office, and the campus should have staffed full-time interpreters. The lack of interpreters on campus may deter students from participating in activities, which also detracts from their overall college experience.
Students with hearing impairments or other disabilities are not immune to the normal stresses of college that all students face. These students may still have to work and attend to other responsibilities outside of campus. Last-minute issues pop up all the time, and the burden is placed on the student to arrange for an interpreter in these situations 24 hours in advance, which simply isn’t fair. Students make alternative accommodations with professors all the time regarding class and homework assignments, and as deaf student Robert Purdy Jr. acknowledged, “Other students have the right to show up to class or not. Why can’t we?” Purdy also shared the difficulty he has encountered in getting offices to hire an interpreter, often times having to instruct various offices himself on how to go about obtaining one.
Although the challenge of providing on-demand services like this is understood, it is an essential requirement for deaf students, and there is simply no reason for the campus not to have full-time interpreters available for students. It is the responsibility of the university to ensure that students are equipped with all the tools they need to succeed in their courses, and this includes those who are deaf or hard of hearing. UCF should pride itself on those hearing impaired students who choose UCF over schools like Gallaudet University, which caters to the needs of the hearing impaired. Even other Florida institutions such as Florida State University and the University of North Florida have created more centralized departments to assist disabled students instead of making students contact several departments to achieve their needs. UCF is lacking in this regard, and it is simply unfair and unacceptable to those students who just wish to succeed in their classes and participate in extracurricular activities without a hassle.