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August 23, 2006

Lawsuit filed today: Local Medical Practice Discriminates Against Deaf Patients

From: Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition - Aug 23, 2006

Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition
Center for Rights of Parents with Disabilities
655 Broadway, Suite 775, Denver, Colorado 80203

(303) 839-1775 Voice
(303) 839-0015 TTY
(303) 839-0015 Captel
(303) 839-1782 Fax

August 23, 2006

Contact: Carrie Ann Lucas, 303.839.0015
Kevin Williams, 303.809.6706

Local Medical Practice Discriminates Against Deaf Patients
OB-GYN office refuses to provide sign language interpreters

Denver - Today the Center for Rights of Parents with Disabilities at the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition ("CRPD"), filed a lawsuit in the federal district court of Colorado against a Lakewood medical practice on behalf of CRPD and several members. The suit alleges Cohen & Womack, M.D., P.C., doing business as Red Rocks OB-GYN, refuses to provide sign language interpreters for deaf patients.

Ginny Lockwood, a former Red Rocks OB-GYN patient who is deaf, repeatedly asked the practice to provide a sign language interpreter for her visits. The practice refused to provide an interpreter, again and again. When Ms. Lockwood brought her own interpreter for a pre-surgical appointment, the surgeon chastised her for bringing an interpreter, then refused to go forward with her surgery.

"It is shocking that this medical practice refused to provide interpreters more than sixteen years after the ADA was passed," said Carrie Ann Lucas, the director of the CRPD and lead counsel in the case. "It is crucial that individuals with disabilities be able to access healthcare services. If doctors and health professionals cannot effectively communicate with their patients, health care is compromised."

The ADA requires health care providers to ensure effective communication with patients through the provision of interpreters, assistive technology, and other auxiliary aids and services

"Red Rocks OB-GYN would not provide an interpreter for my visit," said Jennifer Pfau, who is deaf. "When I don't have access to interpreters, I am forced to have limited information about my health, and I am unable to get full answers when I ask questions."

The plaintiffs ask the Court to order the medical practice to provide sign language interpreters to deaf patients to ensure that they understand medical communications. The complaint also requests damages for Ms. Lockwood, Ms. Pfau and the CRPD.

The CRPD combats discrimination that affects parents with disabilities. The Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition is Colorado's largest state-wide cross-disability organization and has several thousand members across Colorado.

A copy of the complaint can be found at