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Lawsuit Against DC Housing Authority Claims Deaf Women Were Denied Interpreters

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Photo credit: JAIME REINA/AFP/Getty Images

Photo credit: JAIME REINA/AFP/Getty Images

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LANHAM, Md. (CBSDC) — A U.S. District Court lawsuit filed Tuesday by two deaf women and a non-profit aimed at maximizing the self-sufficiency of deaf adults claims the District of Columbia Housing Authority discriminated against the women by repeatedly failing to provide them with interpreters.

Jacqueline Young and Latheda Wilson, according to court documents, both receive rent subsidy vouchers from the DCHA, and both primarily communicate using American Sign Language.

The suit claims they were “denied access to DCHA programs and services,” “forced to sign documents without the opportunity to understand their contents,” and “faced substantial, harmful delays in the receipt of basic services” while working with the DCHA.

They had to resort to communicating through lip reading, bringing family members along with them and sometimes, scribbled notes, documents say.

The complaint mentions one occasion in which Young sat for several hours in the DCHA waiting room for an appointment only to be told at closing time that she had missed an oral announcement of her meeting.

The suit claims the DCHA’s actions go against the Rehabilitation Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Fair Housing Act. It says the women suffered “irreparable loss and injury” including humiliation, emotional distress, out-of-pocket losses and unlawful deprivation of their federally protected rights.

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