2 hearing-impaired students’ lawsuits can proceed


SAN FRANCISCO — Two hearing-impaired teenagers received another chance to pursue lawsuits against their Southern California school districts Tuesday for transcription services for classes.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decided unanimously that lower courts had misapplied the law in ruling for the school districts and returned the cases to district judges for reconsideration.

K.M., a student in the Tustin Unified School District in Orange County, and D.H., a student in the Poway Unified School District in San Diego County, sued after they said they were denied a trained stenographer to provide real-time captioning of conversations on computer monitors.


The students’ teachers insisted the pupils could hear well enough to follow the classroom dialogue. The students countered that their attempts to understand discussions required intense and exhausting concentration. They also contended that other school districts and colleges provide the hearing-impaired with word-for-word transcriptions.

The 9th Circuit said the lower courts mistakenly assumed that the districts could not have violated the Americans With Disabilities Act because they had complied with another federal law by providing the students with individualized education plans.