Americans with Disabilities Act
Americans with Disabilities Act Q&A with Ed Zwilling and Adjacent Space
School Settings: How the ADA, EIPA, and IDEA provides equity in education
April 6th, 2022
So I want to first welcome everyone for participating this evening, for joining us for this event, our ADA question-and-answer event, specifically focus on educational settings. We have a lot of questions but we also want to hear from you what you have in mind and questions that you might have for our ADA attorney attorney, Ed. He has a plethora of experience in this realm and we certainly want to learn all that we can from him this evening. So I will start off with introducing myself. My name is Trey Gordon. I am a co founder of Adjacent Space. Our organization focuses on equity through accessibility in the workplace and in all arenas of life. Thank you for that. We explore the ADA to see where we can provide advocacy and awareness in all realms, whether that be employment or education education, so that you may be aware of your rights and access all for
your needs. Chris, do you want to introduce yourself?
>> Sure. Thanks, Trey. My name is Chris McGaha. I am a sign language interpreter here here in Alabama. I work primarily in K-12 settings and I also work in the VRS setting. I have a background in education and then I've been working with Adjacent Space kind of in the behind the scenes with some grant writing and just some think tank discussions about Adjacent Space. And I'm just excited to be here and be part of this discussion. Trey: All right. Thank you, Chris, for introducing yourself. I've known Chris for a long time time. Many years. Since I was very young. And I have a lot to say thank you to him for, a lot of gratitude for Chris. So let's introduce Ed Zwilling. Ed is our ADA attorney. Ed, if you don't mind, go ahead and introduce yourself.
>> Ed: Yeah, thank you thank you. First off I want to say I'm really glad Chris is here because we have somebody with actual experience with this. And my experience, while I have represented numerous people with hearing impairments in education and public accommodation, discrimination, whether if it's at the doctor's office or at a hospital or work, what have you, I haven't gotten very much involved in education matters in the K-12 setting. I have had cases to remove architectural barriers for kids with physical disabilities and also adults who want to attend those schools and there are architectural barriers. But the whole IEP thing and the IDEA, I'm very familiar with it and made, after studying the law a lot, made the determination that it was a very risky area to practice in and there's not a lot of attorneys that do do, but I'm glad to be here and hopefully I can offer some insight into how the law works. Tray: Absolutely!
Thank you so much, Ed, I appreciate you going through that introduction and we are definitely going to touch on many different topics. We have got a variety of questions here. And if you feel like there's a question that we're addressing and it might apply very close to your heart, just maybe put that in the back of your mind and keep in mind this webinar, you can always go back and watch it again. Also, we want you to share your questions that you have or if there's anything that you would like more information on and clarity, you can type that in the chat. I'll get that question and we'll pose that to Ed on your behalf. All right!
Without further ado, let's begin!
So to start off, Ed, we have IEPs and 504s and I wonder if you can differentiate those two for us.
>> Ed: Yeah, I would be glad to.
>> Trey: Also, if you could tell us how they relate to effective communication in specific.
>> Ed: Yeah, no, happy to do it. So if you look at it chronologically through kind of like the lens of Disability Civil Rights laws since they were passed, the Rehabilitation Act was I think the second and it was passed in 19 -- I want to say it was either 72 or 73. I want to say 73. But before that we had the architectural barriers Act and if you were to look at that law, it required federal buildings to be constructed in accordance with the uniform federal accessibility standards. That went back to 1968. So the next step from looking at that law was the Rehabilitation Act. That's where section 504 is. And it expanded Disability Civil Rights to any program, service or activity that was receiving federal financial assistance. So when you think about what all gets federal money, you have the Department of Education, which gives money to schools, and that money comes with strings, just like the Department of Transportation, the Department of Health and Human Services. So if you go to
a hospital and you're a Medicare beneficiary, that's federal money, so that hospital's governed and subject to 504 Rehabilitation Act. The same is true if you go to a public school, they get federal money. So the 504 plan was the way to ensure that that program was not discriminating on the basis of disability. So it's not limited simply to students, because it could be broader. Might not a 504 plan for your sidewalks and things like that. But the IEP on the other hand comes from the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. And that law actually goes back to 1975. It predates the ADA. And initially it was, I think, a very powerful tool, but in the early 2000s, I want to say it was 2004, they amended the law with the -- it's abbreviated IDEA, but it became the individuals with disabilities education improvement act. They added the I to IDEA and it was not an improvement. It was in line with No Child Left Behind and it had a much more encumbered structure
and introduced -- who want to take on a school district to litigate for what they believe is a free and appropriate education. The difference is the 504 plan basically is you can't discriminate on the basis of disability in a federally funded program and it's very broad. The IDEA, the IDEA is looking at ensuring that a child with a disability is getting a free and appropriate education. When you look at the goal of the ADA, it's maybe, in my view, a little bit more of a powerful law law, because you're looking at equality and integration and you don't want to be segregated and treated separately. And you have these ideas of least restrictive environment and things like that. I'm not sure that all of those ideas translate into the IDEA setting. So the difference between an IEP and a 504 plan, they're really, in a way, kind of one and the same thing, and a lot of times people have just used 504 plan as a term know terminology when really it's an IEP, are not aware of a lot
of situations where you would have both or you would have one and not the other. However, once you're out of 12th grade and you go to a college, you're going to a secondary education or post graduate education, there is no IDEA anymore, it's just a K-12 thing. It's a public school thing. So then you're just dealing with the Rehabilitation Act. But the enforcement mechanisms are totally different. And that's, in a way, I think a 504 plan is -- the Rehabilitation Act is a stronger tool in your toolbox. You can get more accomplished through the Rehabilitation Act, I think, than you can through IDEA.
And I have a reason why I'm saying this. And Chris, by all means, you chime in if you disagree with anything I'm saying in your experience. I was involved peripherally in a case that really irked me. I don't want to put any particular school system on the spot but basically I was contacted by the parents of a child who used a wheelchair and she was like in the eighth grade. She was going to be matriculating to a high school which they knew was not accessible at all and needed a lot of work. They wanted the school system to make changes so their child could enjoy going to high school with their peer group. I involved ADAP, which if you live in Alabama, that's your federally mandated protection and advocacy organization, P&A, and they do a lot of special education and IEP work. They do a lot of advocacy and IEPs for parents and kids with disabilities and they're really an invaluable resource so I recommend them to you. If you live in another state you should research the P&A
organization in your state because every state has one and they really truly are invaluable. They took on the case and filed it. They used my expert. They went through the school and did a big report of all the things that needed to be changed changed, parking, bathrooms, doors, desks, the whole computer lab, the library, everything, auditorium, football stadium. And the school system fought back and the judge in the case said, you know, you bringing this case under the ADA and under the ADA you can make these arguments but the ADA isn't the primary law that Governors governs this case because it's brought on behalf of the student; it's the IDEA that is. And under the IDEA the school can send you to a different -- they can send you somewhere else. They can give you resources so that you could go to a private school. You could be homeschoold and the school would perspective provide resources. Which basically segregated that child from her peer group and friends and really deprived her
of the whole experience she was looking forward to. I thought it was a horrible decision and the Department of Justice wanted to appeal it. But the ADAPT didn't have the budget to do an Eleventh Circuit appeals. That still stands. I don't think it constitutes precedence but it's persuasive authority in the state of Alabama and I think it's a horrible decision. What I have done is I have brought those cases not on behalf of the student but on behalf of a parent with a disability, a grandparent with a disability, somebody who's going to be attending those functions that needs access. When you're dealing with communication, it's a very different thing. I think Chris is here is evidence that children that have hearing impairments and require some sort of communication accommodation are getting that. But who accommodation they're entitled to, I think, it's not a one-size-fits-all thing. It's based specifically on the needs of the child. What are the child's abilities?
What disabilities do they have?
What can be done to give them a free and appropriate education education, which is the guiding standard of the IDEA. I hope I've answered the question. Trey: Yeah, thank you so much. I did notice we have a comment in the chat. It states that there is special protection with IDEA in regards to LRE. So I wonder if you might expand a little bit on where that fits, LRE and IDEA. Ed: Okay. Someone tell me what LRE is an abbreviation for.
>> Least restrictive environment.
>> Ed: Yes yes yes. Absolutely. Least restrictive environment, there is a landmark case, and it has to do really more with people with mental impairments, but historically people with hearing impairments had been lumped in and institutionalized with people who had psychological problems. And the least restrictive environment, God, I cannot remember the name of the landmark case, but it's a Supreme Court case that actually had to do with getting people out of institutions who were institutionalized when they really had the ability to function outside of an institution. Now, least restrictive environment can come into play in special education, which you know, I'm 55 years old and I don't know how old our audience is, but you know, I feel that people are getting services more frequently now than they were when we were kids, even though the IDEA was still there. But historically, special education -- kids who were getting special education were segregated from a classroom and and all
lumped together in the special ed classroom where arguably they weren't getting the same education that the kids in the core curriculum were getting. So what IDEA says is that a kid with a disability should be in the least restrictive environment. And basically, as part of the common -- common -- as much of the common school as that child can be. That means what you will see, and I'm sure Chris can attest to this, is you're going to see interpreters in the classroom, not just a special ed classroom but in the main classroom, helping a child with a disability who is not being segregated from the school or from his peer group or her peer group as the case may be, if that's what you're asking about. That's where that comes from, though. That case is going to come to me. I was involved in a reverse version of that case where they were denying services to somebody who needed them and we were trying to get them back in the institution because they needed it. I don't know why I'm drawing a
blank on the case.
Trey: That's all right. I appreciate you getting into that more in depth. Thank you. Chris, did you want to talk about that a little bit more or you have thoughts?
>> Chris: Sure, I would love to. Just from my experience within the education setting and talking with those who are in Deaf education, often the least restrictive environment for Deaf kids, Deaf students dealing with language, often in mainstream public schools you put an interpreter in the classroom from a special ed perspective that's least restrictive. But for the Deaf student they only have access to language with that interpreter. So it really becomes the most restrictive sometimes, depending on the language needs of the student and the qualifying factors of that interpreter, if they are qualified enough to work with that student. So in some national Deaf education groups, they've changed LRE not from the law but just within their groups to mean, for Deaf students, language rich environment, that the push should be for Deaf students to have a more language rich environment that's more visual and equitabley accessible, not just through an interpreter. So I think
sometimes that's where the push is for Deaf students to go to a Deaf school versus just going to the public schools public school where their family lives. And I think that case could be fought. I'm not sure if there's ever been a case like that, but that's just the discussion in the Deaf education world about that aspect. But again, I think if you have a qualified interpreter, especially a qualified team of people that's working with the Deaf student that are familiar with language assessments and interpreting and what that really looks like with a student that's learning language and learning content, I think -- I think it can be effective. It just has -- there's a lot of factors I feel that need to play into it especially when it comes to communication and language.
>> Ed: Can I ask a question of Chris, because you raised something that just sparked something in me me. I'm curious. In your experience when you're there for a Deaf child, are you not just interpreting in the classroom, but are you also interpreting for the child when he's at lunch sitting with his African friends or on the playground, picking up a game of basketball?
Are you there to help him engage with peers because that's what I see in segregation, especially for Deaf kids.
>> I think again, I'll go ahead from an IEP perspective. If an IEP is written, in the school system that I work in, we write interpreter is available across all academic settings, because the reason we do that, if the student goes to the restroom and there's something that occurs in there and the interpreter's not in there, it falls back to the IEP. But from an equitable, least restrictive environment, as an interpreter, I should be interpreting everything everything, when they walk down the hall, when they're on the bus, but that is impossible to do as one interpreter. It is. So if you think about the amount of incidental learning that occurs in a typical hearing student's life from K-12, Deaf kids do not have access to that. So there's been a lot of research study about incidental learning and the impact that it has on Deaf kids and how interpreters can incorporate more of that into their work. But again, still, you're talking about having, one, a really qualified interpreter that
knows language development, knows Deafed, Deaf ed, knows student development and knows the language and be able to take that and process it and put it out for the Deaf student, and then just the amount of time that's needed. My personal experience, I interpreted sports for several years in the school system that I'm in, and I had just a great team of coaches that I worked with that welcomed the Deaf student, welcomed the interpreter as part of their team. So I interpreted everything, all conversations in the locker room, I interpreted all conversations conversations -- I mean, it was just a -- but even then, it's not 100%.
>> So anything less than 100%, is it effective?
I don't know how you measure or quantify effective communication when it comes to that law and how you tell a school system that they are not providing that when they're paying for interpreters. I don't know if that answered that question or not.
>> No, therein lies the devil. That's right. It's the detail. Awesome. Thank you.
Trey: All right. We have another comment here here. Olmstead.
>> I think it was homestead, that was it.
>> I have been involved in a couple of homestead cases trying to get services where people are being denied them. Trey: Let's move on to our next question. This has been a great discussion so far. Andy, thank you so much for that contribution as well. In terms of language and language assessment, how should schools be determining what is truly effective communication for students?
And then further, how does the ADA define or explain for a school to determine effective communication and then individualize that in their education plan?
>> Ed: Right. Let me talk about that just briefly for what I do when I file an ADA case and how I prove that effective communication has not been provided by whether it's an employer or whether it's a doctor's office, hospital, what have you, and then Chris can chime in with what his experience has been with regard to what type of assessments schools are doing, because honestly, I don't know. I have an expert who is a Professor of Linguistics up in Maine. She works with a lot of other Deaf PhDs. That's basically her whole research is kind of Deaf rhetoric, for lack of a better word. What she does is an assessment that takes about two days and it involves everything from watching a video and then signing what you saw happening, and then watching a different video and then having to write in English what you saw happen. Then if you they have the ability to speak, to speak it in English what they saw happening. And just a whole host of tests, a whole host of trying to communicate ideas
and concepts in different methods, both with sign language, both verbally and written. Then she is able to quantify that to really show the need and the amount of stuff that's missed when you don't have it in sign language if sign is the actual primary language. Of course, there are also people that are lip readers and they might need a different type of interpreter so they can better see what's being said, but for sign language, those have been the cases that I've handled, that's what I've used. Without that, I wouldn't be able to prove that the communication wasn't effective, but if I have an expert that's able to testify that she's got a PhD in this and she gave two days' worth of testing to my client and they Confucianism comprehend 25% of what was said to them and 15% of what was written but when the same information was given to them by sign language they got 100% of it, I think that's pretty persuasive. But I'm not really sure that students get that
same stuff, have that same resource as a matter of course, and I would defer to Chris.
>> Chris: Well, let me preface this to say that that -- .
>> Trey: I was just going to add, excuse me, a brief anecdote, my own experience going to the Alabama School for the Deaf. I look back on those years and I recall in the first grade and the second grade I was required to take speech pathology or speech therapy course with no speech skills. And so I had to wear the large hearing aid and the FM system. It created a vibration when there was sound that came in but there was truly no recognition of those sounds. Nonetheless, I was required all through grade school to attend the speech therapy course and practice those hearing skills. Again, regardless of the fact that I had no speech skills and no hearing skills to start with. So it was based on a pass/fail and in my IEP at my school, my parents decided to remove me from from the speech therapy classes. And again, it may have been some changes in the school there in the system and how they approach speech therapy, but that was four years of training that I went through and a
course that I went through. And I think do they look at the students and determine, okay, this student has potential, let's continue with them?
Do they look at a student at some point and say clearly this ineffective for this student and release them from the course?
I'm curious how that is approached. Ed?
>> Chris, you take that.
>> I want to preface this by saying I'm an interpreter. I'm not a sigh comtricity, I don't do the testing but my observations from the school system that I'm in here in Alabama is that a Deaf student comes in wherever they are, immediately the first thing is we need to hire a sign language interpreter. There's not a we need to do a language assessment and see where this student is to see whether they can utilize an interpreter. I think if you go that route, then what assessments are there?
First of all, I would love for your Ph.D. person to come and do assessments on all the Deaf kids that are in our system just because I would love to see where they're at, but we in the school system I'm in, we -- let me say this. I feel like there's two views of deafness, there's a cultural view and medical view. Medical view is we fix this, we provide cochlear implants, we provide hearing aids, and that's a tool to effectively gain language with the hope that it be speech. Like Trey was saying, a lot of Deaf kids in mainstream schools, he went to the School for the Deaf but in mainstream schools they get speech services, even though they're fully dependent on sign language and visible language, that's their first natural language.
>> Trey: That's right.
>> Chris: It's a detriment to trying to get fit services in that don't fit the students. So have we assessed the students effectively?
I don't think there is effective assessments going on across the nation in K-12 mainstream schools with Deaf students. I think in some states there's a lot of partnering with the local School for the Deaf to do outreach for those students and provide testing. I think some of that happens here in Alabama. I think from what I've seen in our system, we've used a test informally called the ASL receptive skills test. It's only normed from K to age 13, but it really looks at the different parameters of ASL and how well that Deaf student is receptively seeing that language. And if they're high on that receptive end, they're probably scientifically based on that research could utilize an interpreter more effectively than if a Deaf student comes in and doesn't do well on that test. If school systems have a Deaf student and they're doing assessments on language appropriately appropriate for the Deaf student, because I'll say that too; there's a lot of teachers of the Deaf that do
assessments using tools that are normed for kids that are hard of hearing and have speech and they use those same tests on Deaf students who are ASL users and it doesn't correlate appropriately. So therefore, we're back to the same thing, we just provide an interpreter. Then there's a burden put on the interpreter a lot of times in K-12 to do a lot more out of the scope of interpreting with that student and that's a whole other topic of discussion on the role of the educational interpreter. But I think assessments are critical if their parents aren't here listening, like asking the IEP team what assessments are being done to assess if my student is from a language beginning point and how are they progressing, how are you assessing their language growth effectively?
>> Ed: If I could speak to that real briefly, I don't want to take up too much time, but I think what Chris hit on is really key to every single IDEA issue. I'm not just talking about Deaf issues. I'm talking about the whole gamut is that the parents really need to be involved. When I first started doing Civil Rights work for people with disabilities, I met a woman who was a teacher and her child had cerebral palsy and I'm just going to call her Smith for this little anecdote. She told me, it was before my child came home from the hospital, whenever I was walking to the nurses station or going to talk with the doctor, I could see from the look on their face that they're thinking: Oh no, here comes Mrs. Smith. And it's kind of like you have to be that way to make sure that your kid is getting the free and appropriate education. And it's not because the school doesn't have the best, you know, doesn't want to do what's best for the kid. They do. But a lot of times they don't know. They
don't have the resources to determine. And it creates -- creates -- this is my biggest problem with the IDEA is that kids of parents with less means end up getting less services than kids of parents with more needs, because at the end of the day, you know, the kids of parents with means, they have the ability to get their kid tested. They know that maybe their kid needs an occupational therapist, whereas the kid of a parent of limited means might not even know what an occupational therapist is, so they don't even know to ask. Which is why I think it's key that you have an advocate with you in your IEP meeting. And I would recommend that you start with the Alabama disabilities advocacy program at the University of Alabama, our state federally funded P&A, but there's also the special education action committee, SEAC, I think they're called. And there are other advocates and I'm sure there are others out that there that I don't know of. I really feel that's what a parent should have on
their side because I think that the school wants to do and if you ask for it, you might get it. If you don't ask for it, you're probably not going to get it. Yes. And Andy has made a comment here in the chat saying that you absolutely have to be "that" parent. IDEA gives parents a place on the IEP team that is equal to every other member on the team so it's imperative that parents attend and know what is best for your child. You do know what is best for your child more than anyone else there on that team. So it's vital that parents are participating in those IEP meetings. And it is vital that we get those things in writing because that's what's going to hold up in court when it comes down to their intent and what's being communicated between the team, between the IEP team and the parent. Let's move on to our next question. We have been talking about language and effective communication. I want to talk a little bit about fundamental alterations and undue burden, just a little bit. So in regards to public schools to public school, not private school, but in public school and public services being provided to all children,
accommodations such as interpreters, wheelchair accessibility, specialized programs, we understand that these services can be expensive and there are times when the schools may feel that providing such services is a significant alteration to their program, to their courses, and then also just the expense of those. Can you speak to those, Ed?
>> Ed: Sure. Sure. Those are difficult -- I have got to say that they will make that argument a lot, but those are difficult arguments to actually prove in court. Undue burden is a very, very high standard. I've had cases against government agencies under the ADA now, not in the education system, where they agreed to do what amounted to tens of millions of dollars of work to make facilities accessible to everybody. I'm talking like visual fire alarms, braille signage, open captioning on monitors, assistive listening devices plus ramps and accessible parking and doors and bathrooms and the whole thing. This can get very expensive. I've never had a defendant actually try and make that argument in court court, to basically say no, we are not going to agree to do anything because we think this is unduly burden some. I think once they look at the case law that they think that's a really difficult row to hoe. I think it's going to vary on the resources of the school district. I would be
surprised if, you know, a school system saying like as taid ya, that the taxes are so much higher because they contribute to the school and when they have the referendums to vote on to provide more taxes to provide for the schools, they vote yes, which if you're in rural Alabama, they don't do that, they vote no. And people are giving more money to their school foundation. When my kids were in vas taid ya, every single kid in first grade got their own laptop, which is unheard of in rural Alabama. That just doesn't happen. So yeah, I think that the means of the school system are always going to be an issue. Now, as far as fundamental alteration, I have seen that used. For example, I've seen it used where a child wanted to have a dog in class. I want to say in the case I had, it wasn't like a hearing ear dog or whatever you call it; it was actually like a diabetic diabetic -- a scent dog that could determine a high or low end. There was an issue of having that dog there there -- actually,
it was a teacher. It wasn't a student. It was a teacher who wanted to have the dog. They didn't want her to have the dog in the classroom, thinking it would be a distraction to the children, that they wouldn't be paying attention, that they would be looking at the dog. It didn't fall under IDEA IDEA, it fell under Title I of the ADA because it was employment discrimination so it was a totally different type of analysis. I would be interested to hear Chris', if he's ever been in a situation where the school didn't want to provide an interpreter.
>> Chris: I think that often for students providing an interpreter is what the schools do, whether it's through a contract agency or hiring someone on staff. I do think that -- I'm not sure how effective school systems are within themselves to determine the qualifications of an interpreter. Here in Alabama, to interpret for for remuneration, to get paid to interpret, you have to have a license or permit. And there's not a distinguishing factor for K-12. So unless the school system says specifically we want them to do this assessment, like the EIPA or the Educational Interpreter Performance Assessment, there's not a requirement for that. In Alabama, again, it's just a license or a permit. So they can hire interpreters and they do. School systems do that when interpreters are available. That's another thing. One of the things that I think I see come up or two areas is after school activities, if a Deaf student decides to participate in those activities, the schools should provide an
interpreter for them. And they should bear the burden financially to provide that interpreter. I've seen that come up before, as well as -- and this probably falls under more ADA, when a parent that's Deaf chooses to attend a school function, maybe it's a Deaf grandparent, it could be a Deaf parent of a Deaf child that wants to attend that, the schools trying to figure out how to provide an interpreter, maybe even utilizing the interpreters they have there. I have a little bit of a beef personally with that because I feel like my funding source falls under special ed funds which are allocated funds earmarked for special ed, yet they're wanting to pull an interpreter in a setting for a child to go interpret for a parent and I'm not sure that's the most appropriate thing. Those would be the two areas where I feel there's some push back from the school systems and that's just generally speaking.
>> With regard to extracurricular activities that's the example of the type of thing that should be in the IEP because that ends up becoming the law of the case. So if it's in the IEP that your Deaf child is playing baseball, so the interpreter needs to be there for all baseball practices after school and at the games and so on and so forth, then that's going to be provided. But if it's not in the IEP, I think that could well be balked at. Did you get the baseball pun, balked at?
>> I think too, that goes back to parents having advocates and having somebody that's an outside expert and an outside person that's not directly involved emotionally that can look at this from what does the law say is appropriate, effective, and the right of your student. Ed: Exactly. Exactly. I have seen cases where the school district and the parent end up getting in a battle of experts. And unfortunately, I've seen that the courts will tend to defer to a school district's expert over a parent's paid expert, but I think it can still be a worthy investment because many cases the school is just afraid of having to get attorneys involved and incurring a big expense as the parents are. If the parent is coming armed with an expert and an advocate to the IEP, they're much more likely to go on and concede than they are to draw a line-in the sand and set themselves up for a legal battle. Trey: Thank you. I noticed Andy mentioned something here in the chat for Chris, saying does Alabama not adhere to the EIPA standards?
Chris: So in Alabama, the licensure law, the way it's currently written is you can get -- to interpret in Alabama for pay in any setting, you have to have a license or a permit. There is a one-year non-renewable provisional permit that's provided. That's for students -- it it was intended for students coming out of interpreter training programs to go ahead and get that, have mentoring and support and work toward some type of certification assessment and move to either a permit or a license. I think the law's intent again is that you're encouraging interpreters toward licensure, which would be -- and in order to get a license in Alabama, you have to have a certified membership with RID, which would then mean -- which is the registry of interpreters for the Deaf Deaf, which would mean you have to have a national certification, you've passed a written exam, and in Alabama, for licensure, they will accept, if you've taken the EIPA at a 4.0, if you have got a 4.0 or better,
you can get licensure. I just want to make sure -- I looked at it earlier. It's a 4.0 or higher on the EIPA to get a license. Now, for a provisional, on the EIPA, and I want to make sure, it's a 3.0 to 3.9. Those are the options to get a permit or licensure. So to answer that question, from the State's perspective, the licensure board, they are just granting license to interpreters and permits. When it comes to a school system hiring an interpreter, they're just looking at a license or a permit, most of them. I have noticed that in other states, some of them are requiring an EIPA, which I am all for. I think that's a great -- great -- because the EIPA specifically looks at the skill set of an educational interpreter both in the written exam that they offer and in the assessment that they do. And there is a new organization, relatively new, the national interpreters in education, that association, that organization is really setting up some
standards for educational interpreters. So I'm looking forward to that organization continuing to push higher stands for educational interpreters, but I don't know if that answers the question. Here in the state of Alabama, license or permit, and you can work in a K-12 setting as an interpreter. Trey: All right. Well, hopefully that's helpful and hopefully that answered your question, Andy. Looks like we're coming up on the end of our time here. I do want to ask if any of you in our audience have any questions, anything that has come to mind, anything that you would like to ask Ed or Chris based on their knowledge and experience, please do type those in the chat. But I wanted to ask Ed about pitfalls that you commonly see people may not recognize or think about up front. Could you just touch on that?
>> Ed: Yeah. Well, the biggest pitfall is not taking the IEP process as seriously as it should be taken, because I'm not sure how periodically they come up. Is it every nine weeks?
Is it twice a year?
Is it once a year?
I'm not really sure. But it's a long time in between meetings. While you can certainly write in and request changes, generally they are not messing with the IEP until the next IEP meeting. And so it's really important to make sure that your child's needs have been identified in advance of the IEP and you've come into that meeting armed with -- ready to demand specific services that you think your child is entitled to. And to the extent that they may appear out of the ordinary, you have got some documentation to back up why you think your child needs to have that in the IEP. The other thing, too, and I can't stress this enough, historically Alabama in public schools have done a really, really bad job of educating kids with hearing impairments. And there are generations of children that have or adults now who have high school diplomas who are functionally illiterate because they just didn't get services. And I'm talking about more rural parts of Alabama. And I know the NAD came in
decades ago and litigated big cases to try to get more services for folks like that. So it's important to keep that from happening by ensuring that your kids are getting services and they are not just being matriculated. And I've seen it even in cases I've filed against some universities where instead of providing the accommodation necessary for a student with a disability to actually succeed in a program and learn and do well to where they can succeed in their job, that rather than make the investment in infrastructure necessary for that person with that disability to do well in that program, they will say we'll just exempt you from that requirement. Since it's up on the second floor and you're in a wheelchair and you can't get there, we just won't require you to do that. So what ends up happening is that person who's paying thousands of dollars in tuition to go to that institution to get a degree is getting a degree, but they're getting less education. They are not getting what they
paid for. And I've seen that at some of our most prestigious universities in our state. I wouldn't at all be surprised to see that same attitude in school districts. So that's why I really, really believe that the best thing you can do is be well prepared for the IEP and come in well armed with advocates to ensure that your kid gets what he or she deserves. Trey: Thank you. Chris, did you want to add anything to that?
>> Chris: Just a little bit. Thank you, Ed. Really, again, I don't know the law anywhere near like you do, so that's awesome just to have the law as the foundation. And I think for parents in particular we talk about it in our school system with our interpreters that we want parents to have informed decisionmaking. So when they come into the IEP, we want them informed and we want them to be able to make decisions appropriately and understand the difference between inclusion and equity. Oftentimes inclusion is all about appeasing everyone. And I feel like equity is really transformative. That's when education is transformed for the student and for the other students around them that experience that part of what equity really looks like. And I just encourage parents, like Ed said, to know the IEP team and know what is written in your IEP and ask as many questions as you can. Like ask about everything that's in there, because like Ed said, once it's signed, it can be changed but once
it's signed, that's what's followed day in and day out out.
Trey: Yes. And I would add as well, based on my own personal experience going through a Deaf school school, my parents were involved every step of the way and I am just full of gratitude for them. And then upon entering Gallaudet University, the only University of the deaf and hard of hearing in the world, I found everything was fully accessible there as well. So when I graduated from there, then I went to University of Alabama in Birmingham, UAB, that was actually my very first encounter in a mainstream environment educationally, where I had to then encounter more taking these steps on my own for accessibility and advocacy. It was an experience in ownership. And I want to encourage each of you as a take away, to share as that was a take away for me at UAB that I had to own this, my own advocacy and accessibility, to take it upon myself to speak up and to be educated, to be understanding of what my rights and responsibilities are and to get the school to provide those appropriate,
qualified interpreters when needed, to achieve my own educational goals. So I realize I can't expect others to do for me, but I had a responsibility in that to work with them to achieve the accommodations that I required. And if they weren't providing those, I had to, like I said, work with them to take ownership of my own advocacy. So whether it's parents with a child in a public school working an IEP or in a University, whatever it is, we've just got to go for it, get take that ownership and self-advocate. So for our audience members, I do want to ask if anyone has any final questions or comments, anything that you would like to share at this time?
Any last thoughts before we close?
Now is the time. Does anyone want to share anything in the chat?
y final thoughts, Chris or Ed?
Any last tips or thoughts that you would like to share or anyone from our audience?
Dr. Jess, thank you for that. We just had a comment here from Dr. Jess H, go Blazeers!
Ed said yes I also had to work alongside with my professors with the DPT department to have my needs accommodated to make sure that I kept up with my peers peers. Advocacy goes a long way. I agree 100%!
And then we have from Andy, thank you very much. This has been very helpful. Ed, Chris, did you want to share something in closing?
Any last words?
>> None here. Thank you.
>> Trey: Thank you, Chris, thank you Ed, thank you to all our interpreters and to everyone who has attended this evening. I do also want to mention if you are interested, we will host another ADA Q&A series focused on public accommodations. And that will address how to achieve public accommodations in the area of public services and accessibility with businesses. That will take place the first Wednesday of next month. So let me look real quick at my calendar and see. I've totally forgot the date. That is going to be May 4. At 6:30 to 7:30. So we'll send out a blast again through Adjacent Space, our Facebook page. And if you're interested, we do hope you'll join us and we look forward to seeing you there there. Thank you everyone. Have a wonderful rest of your Wednesday and enjoy your evening. Bye-bye.