OKLAHOMA CITY, OK (KSWO)– A deaf Oklahoman has filed a lawsuit against the State of Oklahoma and the Oklahoma Senate and House of Representatives for the failure to caption hearings and other proceedings streamed online.
"Participation in government is an essential American right," stated Howard Rosenblum, CEO of the National Association of the Deaf. "And participation is not possible if government proceedings are not open and accessible to everyone including deaf and hard of hearing people."
Johnny Reininger, Jr. contends that captions are necessary for deaf and hard of hearing citizens to access the audio content of the Oklahoma Senate and House of Representatives maintain legislative hearings and other proceedings.
"I need to know what is happening in my state in order to be fully informed at the polls and to fulfill my civic responsibilities," said Reininger. "When our state government refuses to caption their proceedings, they are choosing to exclude deaf people like me from civic life."
"The Americans with Disabilities Act requires state legislatures to ensure full and equal access for individuals, including individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing," said Michael Steven Stein, an attorney with Stein & Vargas, LLP, one of the firms representing the plaintiffs. "When a state government chooses to exclude a class of citizens from access to their proceedings, they are standing on dangerous ground."