Rochester, New York — In a lawsuit filed today in federal district court in New York, a medical student who is deaf alleges that the American Heart Association violated federal and state disability law by refusing to caption its online educational and training materials for health care providers who wish to obtain certification in basic life support and first aid.
Ian DeAndrea-Lazarus, who is deaf, is a first-year medical student at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. When DeAndrea-Lazarus registered to take the online course, he learned that the video was not captioned and that consequently he could not understand anything the video discussed. DeAndrea-Lazarus contacted the American Heart Association to request access, but the suit alleges that the American Heart Association, despite its receipt of millions of dollars of federal taxpayer funds was under no legal obligation to caption the video.
After the American Heart Association refused to caption the video, DeAndrea-Lazarus’ medical school provided an interpreter so he could complete the course. DeAndrea-Lazarus expects to take the online course every two years to maintain his certification, which also includes after graduating from medical school.
“All of my peers were able to take the online course without any difficulty. Captioning the videos would give me the same opportunity as everyone else to benefit from important training materials about basic life support and first aid,” said DeAndrea-Lazarus. “I hope that the American Heart Association will make all of its online videos accessible not only for me but also for all deaf and hard of hearing individuals pursuing careers in health.”
The lawsuit seeks a court order requiring the American Heart Association to caption its online educational and training materials to make them accessible to everyone.
“The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires all entities that provide educational training materials and certification to ensure full and equal access for individuals with a disability, including individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing,” said Michael Stein, an attorney with the law firm Stein & Vargas, LLP.
“Deaf and hard of hearing people can pursue any career, and do not need barriers imposed upon them by misguided professional organizations such as the American Heart Association,” said Howard A. Rosenblum, Chief Executive Officer of the National Association of the Deaf, which is also engaged in this legal action.
The National Association of the Deaf is the nation’s premier civil rights organization of, by, and for, deaf and hard of hearing individuals in the United States.
Stein & Vargas, LLP is a civil rights firm committed to the principle that all people have full and equal access to all parts of society.
Stein & Vargas, LLP
National Association of the Deaf