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Americans with Disabilities Act: Deaf man held, no interpreter

A federal lawsuit was filed on Nov. 28 in Denver on behalf of a deaf couple who claim that sheriff's officials in Adams County kept the man locked up for 25 days without providing an interpreter or auxiliary aids for deaf suspects. The couple claims that their legal rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act were violated. The man does not read or write English or read lips but is able to communicate using American Sign Language. However, the lawsuit claims that he was held for almost a month without provision of any information on why he was being held, about his legal case or what was going to happen to him.

The arrest happened at a Denver area motel in Adams County on May 14, 2010. Police responded to a noise complaint at the motel. The man and his fiancé were verbalizing sounds while arguing in their room. Sheriff's deputies broke down the door and tackled the man, placing him under arrest. His girlfriend tried to tell police that he did not hurt her, but could not do so because she also was given no interpreter or any aids to communicate.

The couple still does not know why the man was held for 25 days, though authorities have acknowledged that domestic assault charges were ultimately dropped against the man by Adams County officials. A similar case with the Lakewood Police Department and the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office was settled after authorities agreed to comply with very specific guidelines concerning the American with Disabilities Act. The current lawsuit seeks the promulgation and enforcement of guidelines for Adams County as well as unspecified damages.

Any type of discrimination is pernicious. Violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act merit swift and forceful action to redress wrongs and ensure that all individuals share basic rights. Those in the Denver area who believe they or a loved one have been victims of discrimination solely because they suffer a disability would do well to fully investigate all of the facts and circumstances, as well as the available options to correct wrongdoing.

Source: dailymail.co.uk, "Deaf man suing after being jailed for 25 days 'without a sign language interpreter,'" Nov. 28, 2011

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