From TheLedger.com 5/21/11
Because of Lakeland resident Debbie Lauricella, deaf people will get proper service at the Lakeland, Jacksonville and St. Augustine offices of the Social Security Administration.
The federal agency should take the lessons forced upon it by a Lauricella-related settlement and make them its standard.
Lauricella, 50, is deaf. She was director of Central Florida Deaf Services for three years until 2009.
That year, she left her position to care for her mother, who has dementia, and is deaf also.
As a result, she applied for Social Security disability benefits. They pay her $1,018 per month.
Lauricella watched foreign-language speakers communicate with Social Security workers through agency-supplied interpreters.
However, when Lauricella made appointments substantially in advance via email, with sign language interpretation requested, no interpreter would be present when she arrived.
After frustrating repetition, “I just had enough,” Lauricella told The Ledger’s Rick Rousos for a May 7 article. They spoke through an interpreter using American Sign Language.
Lauricella was acquainted with Jacksonville Area Legal Aid lawyer Sharon Caserta.
Caserta took Lauricella’s complaint and joined it the with five similar complaints from people in Jacksonville and St. Augustine.
She filed the joint complaint with the federal Office for Civil Rights in Atlanta.
The outcome was a settlement with the Social Security Administration offices in Lakleland, Jacksonville and St. Augustine. It requires them to serve the deaf better.
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– Thanks to NVRC, Fairfax