“Call your congressman who do not have to write down for you. It’s not the law!! Get an interpreter,” read the note handed to the deaf woman by a Port Orange, Fla., Post Office worker.
By Ben Hooper – March 10, 2015
PORT ORANGE, Fla., March 10 (UPI) — The U.S. Postal Service apologized to a deaf woman who said employees at a Florida branch refused to answer her questions in writing.
The woman, who requested anonymity, said she visited the Port Orange Post Office March 4 and asked the clerk to assist her with mailing some packages.
“She became agitated when I informed her I am deaf and need her to write down the answer to my question,” the woman told WKMG-TV.
The woman said she tried explaining to the clerk that she was unable to understand her speech.
“I pointed to the paper she had pulled out. She mocked me by pointing at the paper I had but speaking at me gain. I asked for a supervisor. She became angry and pointed that I had to go away from her section of the counter,” she said.
The woman said she spoke with a supervisor, but another worker handed her a note reading, “Call your congressman who do not have to write down for you. It’s not the law!! Get an interpreter.”
She was then asked to leave, the woman said.
“It was humiliating and degrading. Honestly, I cried in the car. People like that make you feel like garbage,” she said.
A picture of the note was posted to Facebook by Lisa Curley, a friend of the woman.
“I was horrified,” Curley told the Daytona Beach News-Journal. “I was disgusted, I was outraged.”
Lynn Sinnott, executive director of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services, said the note’s author was wrong about the law. She said the law requires the Post Office to accommodate the disabilities of customers.
“She was asking for a very reasonable accommodation which was to write back and forth,” Sinnott said.
“It’s actually inappropriate to ask a deaf person to provide an interpreter. They are not, according to the ADA [Americans with Disabilities Act], required to provide the interpreter. It is those individuals that they are doing business with. It is their responsibility to provide the accommodations,” Sinnott said.
The U.S. Postal Service released a statement apologizing for the incident.
“The Postal Service extends its sincere apologies to our customer for this incident.
The Postal Service does not condone the type of exchange that occurred here. Rather, the Postal Service’s expectation is that all customers will be treated with dignity and respect and receive courteous and helpful service from our employees. This expectation includes the provision of prompt and courteous service by postal employees to customers who may have language barriers, hearing impairments, visual impairments or other physical or mental impairments.”
“Postal Service management has investigated and remediated the situation.”