Deaf woman says Port Orange post office discriminated against her

Woman tells Local 6 post office staff refused to communicate through writing

By Loren Korn - Reporter

PORT ORANGE, Fla. - A deaf woman said a post office in Port Orange discriminated against her when staff members refused to communicate via writing.

The woman wants to remain anonymous, but she texted Local 6 about what happened when she asked the clerk for help with mailing some packages.

"She became agitated when I informed her I am deaf and need her to write down the answer to my question," said the woman.

The woman claimed she explained three times to the employee that she is deaf and can't hear but said, "I pointed to the paper she had pulled out. She mocked me by pointing at the paper I had but speaking at me again. I asked for a supervisor. She became angry and pointed that I had to go away from her section of the counter."

When the woman confronted the supervisor and said she wasn't OK with being denied service and that their staff needed better training, she said another employee handed her a note that said, "Call your congressman who do not have to write down for you. It's not the law!! Get an interpreter."

The woman said she was then asked to leave.

"It was humiliating and degrading. Honestly, I cried in the car. People like that make you feel like garbage."

The note was posted on Facebook and was shared more than 900 times.

"She was asking for a very reasonable accommodation which was to write back and forth," said Lynn Sinnott, executive director of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services.

Sinnott said not only is it the law to help someone with a disability, it's up to the other party to accommodate.

"It's actually inappropriate to ask a deaf person to provide an interpreter. They are not, according to the ADA, required to provide the interpreter. It is those individuals that they are doing business with. It is their responsibility to provide the accommodations," said Sinnott.

A representative from the U.S. Postal Service released the following statement:

"The Postal Service extends its sincere apologies to our customer for this incident.
The Postal Service does not condone the type of exchange that occurred here. Rather, the Postal Service's expectation is that all customers will be treated with dignity and respect and receive courteous and helpful service from our employees. This expectation includes the provision of prompt and courteous service by postal employees to customers who may have language barriers, hearing impairments, visual impairments or other physical or mental impairments.

"Postal Service management has investigated and remediated the situation."
 

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