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Advocacy Spotlight

DRP Persuades University to Reinstate Student with Hearing Loss

A Pennsylvania university student with hearing loss is now re-enrolled in college and attending classes after being involuntarily placed on academic leave.  In early 2021, the student suddenly started to experience hearing loss.  Her hearing continued to deteriorate.  While she struggled to understand and adjust to her new disability, she sought assistance from various school officials and the school’s disability resource office.  Her requests for meetings to discuss accommodations were denied.  Her request to have her professors wear clear masks so that she could read lips was also denied.  None of the assistive technology available in classrooms was utilized to assist this student.  The only “accommodation” offered to this student was that she would be permitted to drop all but two of her courses, which she did.

Because she could not equally access the university’s educational program, she failed her remaining courses.  She then did not have sufficient credits according to the university and so, without notice, warning, or any opportunity to appeal, the university dismissed her.  The student and her mother contacted the university and requested reconsideration, but the university would not relent, even denying the student’s request to sit in on her classes.

With classes proceeding, the student contacted DRP.  Although the school “adamantly” denied any wrongdoing, after receiving Brynne’s letter, the university agreed to immediately reinstate the student for the spring 2022 semester and to work with her to identify and implement accommodations.