U.S. District Judge Orders Creighton University to Accommodate Deaf Medical Student

by Olabisi L. Okubadejo

A U.S. District Court judge has ordered Creighton University to provide a medical student who is deaf with auxiliary aids and services for effective communication, including Communication Access Real-time Transcription (CART) and sign-supported oral interpreters in small group and clinical settings. The court found that the student, Michael Argenyi, met the burden of demonstrating that the university did not provide him with necessary and effective accommodations that would ensure meaningful access to a medical education.

Mr. Argenyi, who had a bilateral cochlear implant, had requested accommodations such as CART, cued speech interpretation, and a frequency modulation (FM) system. The university provided him with some, but not all, of the accommodations, and Mr. Argenyi paid for some of the accommodations himself.

After the university declined to allow Mr. Argenyi to use interpreters in certain clinical settings, he took a leave of absence from the medical school. Though the court required the university to provide the accommodations at issue, it did not require the university to reimburse Mr. Argenyi for the accommodations for which he paid during his first two years of medical school.

The case was decided under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) [enhanced version available to lexis.com subscribers], and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act [enhanced version available to lexis.com subscribers]. Both laws contain requirements for the provision of accommodations and access to students with disabilities, including students who are deaf or hard of hearing. Attorneys in Ballard Spahr’s Higher Education Group routinely advise educational institutions on compliance with the ADA and Section 504. For more information, contact Olabisi L. Okubadejo at 410.528.5532 or okubadejoo@ballardspahr.com.


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