• HLAA-CA Asks!

    HLAA-CA Asks! is a web exclusive by the Hearing Loss Association of America, California State Association (HLAA-CA) that asks socially relevant questions to members of our community who share their stories with the intent to inspire and engage people in advocacy work.

     

    OCTOBER 2011
    My Accessible City
    By Sandy Goodwick

    I teach for Los Angeles County Office of Education, the nation’s largest regional education agency, with an annual budget of $1 billion.  Having been born with a rare disability (Moebius syndrome), I found that going into special education (after teaching “general education”) a real way to advocate for kids that have disabilities. Advocating for myself, however, was a far greater challenge! Along the way, I learned a lot…

    In March, 2009 I was invited to President Obama’s Town Hall meeting, in Los Angeles. I was almost first in line.  I asked for ALD’s…but the public school had none. While sitting in the third row was nice, I couldn’t understand ANY of the questions/answers – the entire reason for being there!

    I started asking my administrators for ALD’s because I was tired of asking for everything to be repeated during staff meetings in a large auditorium.  At one meeting, I even wrote a lengthy note, explaining the ADA and “effective communication”.  It was ignored.  I had no idea who to contact, what to do next.

    In 2010, I was invited to the White House, for the 20th anniversary celebration honoring the signing of the Americans with Disabilities act.  This time, I wrote Mr. Dale, specifically requesting ALD’s – 2 weeks ahead!

    Incredibly, at the White House event, there were no ALD’s. (Apparently the ones they had didn’t work.)  President Obama spoke about state and local governments’ responsibilities. It was as though I envisioned an entire parade of people who’ve already done their part to make this a land of laws, justice, responsibility.  They’ve done their job, now I need to do mine…

    I asked LACOE top echelon administrators – who was LACOE’S ADA Title II coordinator?  I was told they didn’t have one, they didn’t need one, and I couldn’t tell them anything about it because I was an employee.

    I told them they needed one; it’s the law.  If they didn’t get one, they could lose federal money.  And I could tell them they needed one because I have a disability.

    A week later, I got an email from LACOE – they had hired an ADA Title II coordinator.  I called her – Ann Kinkor – and I truly found a kindred soul.  She personally thanked me for insisting that LACOE follow the law.  My story is now part of her presentations.

    I did file a complaint with the United States Department of Justice.  I found the justice system to be very “user friendly” and impartial.

    LACOE’s website now has a new section – “Legal and Public Notices – new!”.  Lincoln school now has hearing access.  And I’m proud that our system works – ALL of it!