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Stop discriminating against deaf students by granting CART-live captioning to Cassandra and other students requesting similar services.

Eagle Mountain-Saginaw ISD is Discriminating Against Deaf Students

My daughter Cassandra is deaf, and she is perfect. Her favorite color is red, she loves to read, and she’ll make you smile every day.  She is in 6th grade at a public school and does her homework to keep her grades up. Unfortunately, she still struggles due to difficulties arising from her aided hearing. We have asked that live Communication Access Real-time Translation (CART) services be provided by the school, which will help Cassandra access teacher instruction and classroom conversation via text on a tablet. However, Eagle Mountain-Saginaw ISD has denied our request and refuses to give her the help that she asked for.

I am writing this petition to raise public awareness and to get your help. Cassandra needs your support. Please continue reading about her circumstances and sign the petition. You can also send letters of support directly to Cassandra (at the address below) to encourage her to hang in there. Tell everyone you know and spread the word.  Anything you can do to help her will go a long way!

Cassandra was born profoundly deaf and in a silent world. As parents, we have strived to provide her with all the opportunities she needs in life. We have taught her that even though deafness is technically labeled as a disability, that doesn't mean deaf people are incapable of succeeding in life. It just means that they can't hear. We have learned American Sign Language, and she has also received cochlear implants (CI). Wearing her CI allows Cassandra to hear to an extent, but that hearing is limited. Imagine hearing the world through the speaker of your cell phone. It is difficult to distinguish between background noises, side conversations, and what you really want or need to hear. Other factors play havoc on clarity such as the wind blowing against the microphone, sound bouncing off the walls of the room, or equipment failure. In addition, headaches and mental fatigue understandably result from using her CI for long periods of time, so it’s equally understandable when Cassandra often chooses to take her CI off and live in a quiet world.

At school, Cassandra also uses an FM System, which consists of a lapel microphone clipped to the teacher that transmits directly to her CI. Even though it amplifies the teacher’s voice, the FM System will often transmit background noise, static, or humming sounds that interfere with Cassandra’s ability to focus. Cassandra has informed the school that she prefers reading the information communicated to her rather than hearing it. She has also reported to the school that she sometimes has difficulty hearing her classmates or that the room is too noisy. When Cassandra doesn’t hear something, she must guess at what is said or mimic what the hearing students are doing or ask the people speaking to repeat themselves. Sometimes, when the sensory input is too much at school, Cassandra can only cover her ears (i.e. her CI microphones) to try blocking the noise.

A CART system would remove all these barriers in the path of Cassandra’s education. CART is a real-time captioning service that displays what is being said onto a tablet device, so deaf students can immediately read conversations as they happen in the classroom. Many deaf people use this service, and it's also a service that is offered to deaf college students. For Cassandra, this service will alleviate the strain that makes her learning processes at school unnecessarily difficult. CART services will also make it easier for Cassandra to make sense of the cluster of noises she hears through her CI. More importantly, if Cassandra had access to CART services, she could remove her CI when the strain of her CI becomes too great and continue focusing and working at the same pace as other students without missing what is said around her.

Not only is granting CART services to a deaf student like Cassandra the sensible thing to do, it’s also her right. Cassandra is protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Title II through which she is entitled to CART services if she asks for them.

In spite of this, Cassandra’s school has denied our request for CART services. Instead, they claim that if Cassandra is to participate in class then she is required to listen solely through her CI - even though the strain is often too much. Her school has said that Cassandra is allowed to take off her CI when she needs a break; however, if she does so, the school claims that she will just have to do without accommodations. In such circumstances, Cassandra will essentially be ignored. It does not make sense to allow a deaf student to come to class only to be ignored for part or all of the time.

For the last two weeks of school, for example, Cassandra has attended without her CI and therefore with no hearing. Although she is free from excessive exhaustion and strain when she does not wear her CI, the best communication services her school has provide is the woefully ineffective and slow process of communicating with a pen and paper. It is simply unbelievable that the school still will not provide CART services. The school is aware that she is not receiving a fair and appropriate education for a deaf student, and they know that a pen and paper is inadequate for communication. However, the school simply tells us that her situation is just “so sad” with the expectation that her CI will “fix” her deaf condition and solve our concerns.

The school is clearly discriminating against Cassandra as a deaf person. Their discrimination is unlawful and unfair. We do not understand why the school refuses to provide CART services to deaf students. And we do not understand why the school seemingly refuses to allow Cassandra to be deaf.

We are seeking for your help! We need to show the school that in these modern times, discrimination is unacceptable. Please sign our petition and show your support for Cassandra to receive CART services at school.

If you want to go the extra mile, there are other actions you can do, too. You can write to the school and let them know this is unacceptable. You can also write to Cassandra or send her a card of support. She is such a sweet girl and strives to follow the rules. But like many other children her age with special needs, she feels alone and doesn't understand why she can't be herself all the time. Help her feel normal and be a strong voice in support of her desires. Below are the addresses of the school administrator's office and also Cassandra's address.

 

Eagle Mountain-Saginaw ISD
Special Programs attn: Lesa Shocklee
1200 Old Decatur Rd.
Saginaw, TX 76179

 

CART for Cassandra
P.O. Box 163462
Fort Worth, TX 76161-3462

 

Thank you for your support, and please pass the word along!

Sincerely,
Barbara & Cassandra

 

This petition was delivered to:
  • EMS-ISD Director of Special Programs
    Lesa Shocklee (EMS-ISD Director of Special Programs)
  • Region 11 Assistive Technology and Speech Language Pathology
    Kathy Cole (Region 11 Assistive Technology and Speech Language Pathology)
  • Region 11 Instructional Support Secondary
    Annissa Macon (Region 11 Instructional Support Secondary)
  • Senator
    Ted Cruz
  • Senator
    John Cornyn
  • U.S. Department of Education
    Office Of Civil Rights
  • State Board of Education Chair
    Barbara Cargill
  • State Board of Education
    Patricia Hardy
  • Governor of Texas
    Greg Abbott
  • Fort Worth Mayor
    Betsy Price
  • Region 11 Director of Administrative Services
    Chriss Everett
  • Region 11 Executive Director
    Dr. Clyde Steelman, Jr.
  • Region 11 Executive Assistant
    Nelline Dignum
  • Statewide Lead for Deaf/Hard of Hearing Services
    Susie Tiggs
  • Region 11 Director Instructional Support
    Kathy Duniven
  • Region 11 Coordinator Federal Programs
    Brandon Neeley
  • Eagle Mountian-Saginaw ISD (EMS-ISD) Board of Trustees President
    Dick Elkins
  • EMS-ISD ISD Board of Education Vice President
    Paige Ring
  • EMS-ISD ISD Board of Education
    Tony Owens
  • EMS-ISD ISD Board of Education
    Rob Franklin
  • EMS-ISD ISD Board of Education
    Steven G. Newcom
  • EMS-ISD ISD Board of Education
    Liz Hatley
  • EMS-ISD Superintendent
    Jim Chadwell
  • EMS-ISD Ed.D. Executive Director of Educational Services
    David Priddy
  • EMS-ISD Special Programs Coordinator
    Royanne Kerr


CART for Cassandra started this petition with a single signature, and now has 604 supporters. Start a petition today to change something you care about.