Every student deserves access to a high-quality education, regardless of physical or mental disabilities.
But what if a school flat-out refuses to provide the tools these students need? What if they make it impossible for certain kinds of students to attend?
A mother found herself facing a difficult choice: either send her deaf daughter to a private school that would not provide an interpreter or accept the run-down public school nearby and let her daughter’s education ultimately suffer.
Her Deaf Daughter Didn’t Have The Same Opportunities as The Other Kids
The original poster (OP) has a six-year-old daughter who is deaf. Her daughter communicates using American Sign Language (ASL).
When it came time to enroll the child in kindergarten, OP expected to send her daughter to the private school her older children attended. This was the same private school most of the children in her area attended.
Public School Vs Private School
“There is a public school near us but it’s very bad and the whole district has a rating of 1.5 out of 5 stars,” OP told readers. Knowing the quality of their local school, she showed up on enrollment day at the private school instead.
The private school rejected her daughter. They informed OP that they would not hire an interpreter because OP had the option of a deaf school in the county.
They advised OP to take her daughter there if she did not like the local public school.
The Deaf School Didn’t Meet Her Needs
“The deaf school only teaches speech and no sign language,” OP explained. It was only for children with hearing aids and cochlear implants. As her daughter depended on sign language, it was not a viable match.
The private school, in exchange, did offer ASL classes. Her daughter would thrive in a space surrounded by students also learning sign language. It would be perfect; the only issue was the lack of an interpreter.
Is There More That She Can Do?
OP’s own brother advised her to “just give up,” but OP wanted more options. She posted online to see what others had to say.
“Your daughter deserves and requires an interpreter. If you want her to go to a better school, invest in an interpreter. Your local deaf school is a joke. Please involve her in deaf culture; it’s rich and her birthright,” one person commented.
The top-voted comment, however, opened OP’s eyes to something she wasn’t even aware of.
“Private schools are still required to comply with ADA (The Americans Disability Act). They must provide auxiliary aid within reason for Deaf or HOH (Hard of Hearing) students,” they wrote.
“Please see here for a breakdown of what is expected of private schools under ADA. They cannot tell you that they will not provide this aid.”
She Decided to Take Legal Action
After users suggested OP take legal action, she decided to give it a try.
Her husband’s older brother works as a disability lawyer, so they decided to reach out to him for advice—something they hadn’t done sooner because he specializes in wheelchair accessibility, not deaf rights.
Despite this, the brother-in-law was willing to take their case. They discussed the situation over the phone, and he reached out to the private school on their behalf.
The School’s Stance Changed Entirely
OP’s brother-in-law emailed back and forth with the school. “We’re not sure what was said exactly,” OP admitted, “But by the end of it, not only did the school agree to pay for the interpreter, but they also provided a free scholarship and let us [choose our daughter’s] teacher.”
One of the kindergarten teachers at the private school knew ASL, so OP chose that teacher for her daughter. Though she wasn’t sure why the school suddenly switched gears, she speculated that “it’s probably because denying entry to a kindergartner just because she’s deaf would not look so good if other people found out.” Whatever the reason, she wasn’t complaining.
Her Daughter Was Thriving
OP’s daughter started at the private school two weeks ago and loves it thus far. She has been able to make friends and communicate with the other students through “kinda broken” sign language.
“Her interpreter is very nice and will update us on how she did every day, unlike the interpreter she had when she was in public school,” OP updated. Her daughter’s new teacher also uses sign language as much as possible, as do the other students.
“Overall I’m so happy this happened,” OP told users, “I wouldn’t have known there was anything I could do about it until I asked on [this site], so thank all of you who replied and told me the private school does have to provide an interpreter.”
Everyone Was Delighted For Her Daughter
Users celebrated with OP. “I love reading about a child doing well. I imagine she’ll have a class full of kids who learn ASL, which is great for all of them,” one comment read. “Fantastic job!” a user wrote, adding, “If you haven’t already, start reading up on ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act)… and IEPS (Individual Education Plans)” to help support her daughter.
OP’s daughter may face many challenges in the future. OP’s actions were the first step in showing her that though it may be tough, she is always worth fighting for.
This article was produced and syndicated by TPR Teaching. Source.
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I'm an Irish tutor and founder of TPR Teaching. I started teaching in 2016 and have since taught in the UK, Spain, and online.
I love learning new things about the English language and how to teach it better. I'm always trying to improve my knowledge, so I can better meet the needs of others!
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