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MD Legal Aid Concerned about Treatment of Deaf, Blind Clients

PHOTO: Maryland Legal Aid says deaf and blind clients are not receiving proper accommodations from public housing agencies.
PHOTO: Maryland Legal Aid says deaf and blind clients are not receiving proper accommodations from public housing agencies.
May 23, 2013

ANNAPOLIS, Md. - Maryland public housing agencies are failing to accommodate people with disabilities, according to Maryland Legal Aid. Staff attorney Kathy Hughes has two clients - one blind, one deaf - who have been at risk of being evicted from their homes because they didn't get communications they could understand about problems with their housing assistance, she said.

For example, Hughes said, eviction notices were put on her blind client's door.

"They're sending him notices like they'd send to anybody else. He can't read them," she said.

Hughes filed appeals to keep her clients in their homes, but she said housing agencies need to make more of an effort to understand the needs of program participants.

In the case of her hearing-impaired client, Hughes said there were no attempts to get a sign language interpreter to help him understand what was going on - until he got a lawyer.

"They don't, truly don't, understand that with someone - in this case, someone who is hearing impaired - you must have an interpreter. They're missing a large part of the conversation, even if you think that you're communicating," Hughes explained.

Federal fair housing laws require accommodations for people with disabilities, including sign language interpreters and readers for the blind.

Alison Burns, Public News Service - MD