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Deaf student can sue medical school for discrimination

A Seattle man with profound hearing loss has won a key battle in his fight with Creighton University Medical School in Nebraska over accommodating his disability. The case could have ramifications for other institutions of higher education.

Michael Argenyi, who received his undergraduate degree from Seattle University, asked Creighton to pay for interpreters and a real time captioning service known as CART (Communication Access Realtime Translation). The medical school refused, offering other services instead. Argenyi sued under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Now, the U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals has sided with Argenyi, ruling there is enough evidence for the case can go forward. The ruling concludes that,

"a reasonable factfinder could determine that Argenyi was denied an opportunity to benefit from medical school equal to that of his nondisabled classmates."

Argenyi's attorney Mary Vargas sees the ruling as a milestone in determining what full access to higher education means.

“It doesn’t mean having only a ramp into the classroom, it doesn’t mean getting only some of the content, it means having an equal opportunity to access the educational content as do the non disabled students,” she said.

She says  disabled students who’ve grown up receiving full accomodation in elementary, high school and even college are often finding their dreams dashed when they try to pursue professions beyond that. 

Paula is a former host, reporter and producer who retired from KNKX in 2021. She joined the station in 1989 as All Things Considered host and covered the Law and Justice beat for 15 years. Paula grew up in Idaho and, prior to KNKX, worked in public radio and television in Boise, San Francisco and upstate New York.