Resources. Equality. Independence.
A | A | A

Deaf News

Voter information in ASL

Have you been following the Presidential race this year? Are you registered to vote? Planning to vote on November 8?

Come find us at Signvote’s website: Take a look around!

Join us, and help elevate our community. Join us at #SignVote today!

Appeals Court Rules Girl Scouts is Covered by Federal Disability Discrimination Law

CHICAGO – May 13, 2015 – The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Friday, May 8, 2015, that the Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana is subject to federal disability discrimination law under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The federal lawsuit was filed on August 2, 2012, by Megan Runnion, who is deaf and was 12 years old at the time. Megan was seeking to secure an American Sign Language interpreter for meetings of her Girl Scout troop.


For the six years that Megan was involved with her Girl Scout troop, the Girl Scouts provided a sign language interpreter for troop meetings and outings. Megan’s mother renewed the request for the interpreter in 2011, but the Girl Scouts denied her request. Rather than providing the requested interpreter services, Megan’s troop was disbanded.


The lawsuit was dismissed on October 26, 2012, when the Girl Scouts argued that the organization was not covered under the Rehabilitation Act. But on Friday, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the Northern District of Illinois’ decision and found that private membership organizations that receive federal funds, such as the Girl Scouts, are covered by federal disability discrimination law.


According to Steven P. Blonder, lead counsel in the case and a principal at Chicago-based law firm Much Shelist (which is handling the case on a pro bono basis) the decision confirms that private membership organizations, such as the Girl Scouts, are included in the anti-discrimination provisions of the Rehabilitation Act, regardless of whether professionals or volunteers are playing key roles. It also defines what it means to be principally engaged in social service or educational programs.


“The opinion confirms that private organizations that receive federal funding are prohibited from discriminating against people with disabilities,” said Blonder. “We are pleased that the Seventh Circuit has confirmed this important principle and we can now focus on the underlying discrimination that our client experienced.”


“Megan was heartbroken that she could no longer participate in Girl Scouts,” said Edie Runnion, Megan’s mother. “We are thrilled that Megan’s case can finally go forward and set a precedent for other children who have disabilities and want to stay active in scouting and other similar organizations.”


“We filed this case nearly three years ago and it is gratifying that we now have a definitive decision that the Girl Scouts cannot discriminate against its members with disabilities,” said Barry Taylor, Vice President of Civil Rights and Systemic Advocacy at Equip for Equality and co-counsel for Megan. “The Girl Scouts’ policy is discriminatory on its face, and we look forward to rectifying the injustice this policy caused our client.”   Equip for Equality attorneys Laura Miller, Amanda Antholt and Rachel Arfa are also representing Megan.


“The Girl Scouts’ refusal to provide interpreter services not only violates federal law, but also is contrary to the founding principles of the Girl Scouts,” said Howard A. Rosenblum, an attorney and the Chief Executive Officer of the National Association of the Deaf, which is serving as co-counsel. “Ironically, Juliette Gordon Low, the founder of Girl Scouts, herself became deaf later in life and she welcomed girls of all abilities at a time when they were excluded from many other activities.” Marc Charmatz and Debra Patkin are the attorneys at NAD representing Megan.


The United States Department of Justice, which interprets and enforces Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, filed a brief with the Seventh Circuit supporting Megan’s argument that the Girl Scouts is covered by federal disability anti-discrimination law.


For more information visit the Equip for Equality Website at:


White House staffer Leah Katz-Hernandez is a pioneer on the reception desk

  • Katz-Hernandez2 Latino.jpg

Read about this new White House Staff, young deaf woman Leah Katz-Hernandez!


The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is pleased to announce the creation of 12 videos in American Sign Language (ASL) with English captioning.  These videos provide critical legal and practical information in a format accessible to persons who are Deaf and/or Hard of Hearing.

These videos feature Deaf and/or Hard of Hearing Actors who provide important information related to fair housing and fair lending rights under the federal Fair Housing Act.



Due to their short length, these videos do not provide complete information about rights and responsibilities under fair housing laws.  If you believe you may have experienced discrimination, please contact one of the agencies identified at the end of each video or click on the Resources tab. HUD would like to thank the Disability Independence Group and the National Fair Housing Alliance for the production of these videos.

Development of these videos was funded through a grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development under the Fair Housing Initiatives Program.