The story of Liner Legal’s Deaf Advocacy practice begins with a first kiss. Andrew met his wife, Keri, when at age 13, they attended the same sleepaway camp in Pennsylvania. Keri, who is originally from New York, was born profoundly Deaf. What started with a first kiss, unfortunately, was followed by 18 years of time apart.
However, in 2015, Andrew and Keri would find their way back to each other. Having established himself as a disability litigator in the first six years of his legal career, reconnecting with Keri at that time was nothing short of destiny. As soon as their “first date” in 2015, Andrew began to notice Keri struggle in the hearing world. One of Andrew’s earliest memories was having to explain to Keri what was being said over the loudspeaker on the New York City Subway, as there was no corresponding visual display.
In the coming weeks and months, Andrew witnessed Keri being denied multiple means of effective communication, as is guaranteed to her, and to other Deaf individuals by the Americans with Disabilities Act. Whether it was the refusal to schedule an American Sign Language interpreter, malfunctioning captioning equipment at the movie theater, a denial of visual fire alarms, or just atrocious discrimination, Andrew was shocked. Andrew decided that not only did he want to advocate for his wife, but also for the entire Ohio Deaf community.
Andrew quickly joined the Deafness Advocacy Committee at the Cleveland Hearing and Speech Center. As a member, Andrew serves not only in a position of advocacy but also that of an advisory position, learning from Deaf individuals about the daily struggles they face. Andrew practices American Sign Language every single day with Keri. Andrew is confidently conversational and has an unrelenting passion to become fluent. Just like Andrew, Michael was horrified at the treatment of Ohio’s Deaf citizens. In becoming a shareholder at Liner Legal, Michael assured Andrew that Liner Legal would devote significant practice resources to helping advocate against Deaf discrimination.
Liner Legal is structured to assist Deaf individuals with employment discrimination, general discrimination, and any other disability-related needs. They represent themselves as Cleveland, Ohio Deaf Advocacy Lawyers and are willing to do whatever it takes to get you what you need.
The Americans with Disabilities Act
Individuals who are Deaf or hard of hearing are entitled to the same rights as everyone else. These rights are guaranteed in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This Act includes:
- Title I – Employment: Prohibits employers, employment agencies, labor unions and joint-labor management committees from discriminating against persons with disabilities.
- Title II – State and Local Governments: Requires state and local governments to make their programs, services, and activities accessible to individuals with disabilities, including individuals who are Deaf or hard of hearing.
- Title III – Public Accommodations: Requires public businesses to ensure people with a disability have equal access to all that the businesses have to offer.
- Title IV – Telecommunications Relay Services: Mandates a nationwide system of telecommunications relay services to make the telephone network accessible to people who are Deaf or hard of hearing or have speech impairments.
Eligibility for Social Security Disability
Social Security disability provides benefits for individuals who have profound hearing loss or are Deaf. Typically, to receive disability benefits an individual must have a physical or mental health impairment (or a combination of both), which keeps them from working for 12 or more months. The disability must also prevent the individual from being capable of doing jobs available in the economy in “significant numbers.”
The Social Security Administration (SSA) provides a list of requirements one has to meet to qualify for disability benefits based on numerous specific medical conditions, which are referred to as “Impairment Listings.”
The listing requirements for hearing loss include:
- Audiometry – You must have an average air conduction hearing threshold of 90 decibels (dB) or worse in your better ear, and an average bone conduction hearing threshold of 60 dB or worse in your better ear.
- World Recognition Test – You must have a word recognition score of 40% or less in your better ear. This tests speech discrimination by using a list of standardized words.
- Cochlear Implants – If an individual has cochlear implants in one or both ears, they automatically qualify for disability benefits for one year after the implantation. After the year is up, the benefits are extended for as long as their word recognition score, using a “Hearing in Noise Test,” is 60% or less.
In addition, individuals can qualify for disability if they prove that their hearing loss prevents them from being able to work. The SSA takes into consideration how an individual’s hearing loss affects their ability to communicate, follow instructions and effectively do a variety of jobs.
Deaf Discrimination Lawyers in Cleveland, Ohio
Even if you have an issue that is completely unrelated, feel free to drop in and visit with someone that speaks your language. If Andrew and Michael can’t help you, rest assured. Liner Legal is constantly networking with what we call, “Deaf friendly” attorneys. Any attorney that we work with must have a keen understanding of the complexity of the Deaf experience. That includes communicating through the preference of the Deaf individual, whether it is a relay service, a VP, text, email, or in person with an interpreter.