Theater Audition

Discussion in 'American with Disabilities Act' started by scribbler86, Dec 23, 2008.

  1. scribbler86

    scribbler86 New Member

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    I auditioned for "The Sound of Music" for a local community theater and made it into the cast. (did "My Favorite Things" in ASL for those wanting details..)

    However, I have a dilemna. They used a CODA (who is 16 years old and a 'minor') to interpret for auditions - I allowed it as it was a last-minute thing and the CODA was already there auditioning for Liesl. (She got the part). But I told them that for the actual meetings and rehearsals, I wanted an interpreter and a script. They said they would look into it. (this is a hearing theater - I'm the only deafie who actually showed up).

    Lo and behold, when I showed up for the cast meeting, the CODA was there to interpret (again) and she didn't do much and left after 20 minutes. I stayed the whole 90 minutes and got a bit of this and that. I felt really betrayed. So I emailed the director my concerns and this is what I got in reply: no interpreter - can't afford it (even though I pointed them into the general direction of grants made thru VSArts specifically for access) and no scripts - only the leads get them.

    so I didn't feel like it was worth my time to stay in the cast and fight for access the entire time... these are my reasons.

    1. The only songs I'll be signing are those in Latin. (I would have had to translate them, learn to hear Latin and somehow keep up with the cast... why can't I do something like 'Edelweiss' or 'Do Re Mi'? Anything BUT 'Dixit Dominus' and 'Praedlium'. Basicallly I'm doing all the non-ENglish songs). Whoopee. NOT.
    2. They won't hire an interpreter "we can't afford it" blah blah. Go get the grant from MRAC... The guy there specifically told them about the grant I know cuz he did a bcc of the email to me. Laziness... they're making the CODA terp. I told them, how can she be in two places at the same time? If I'm working with the vocals and they're blocking 'Do-Re-Mi'... how? Didn't think about that.
    3.They won't do an ASL performance (ie no interpreted show) and I'm like, why should I do a show that won't hire 'terps - what if my friends wanted to come? IT would be hypocritical of me as it goes against my standards. Why? " no funds..." Again, go to MRAC (Minnesota Regional Arts Council). or VSArts. Something.
    4. No script. They only go to Maria, the Captain, Max and the Baroness and photocopies for the kids and the "lead" nuns. Again... how? (I do know that I have memorized the FILM version but again... script? If no terp, then a script is the alternative.... leaving me with no options.
    5. They stress 'family' but I see no family going on. 'Everyone is welcome"? Ii think not.
    Wich puts me back at square one... again. (Why do I keep auditioning for 'hearing' musicals? Simply cuz the closest theater that does 'ASL musicals' is in Chicago.... and I obviously can't commute between here and there.
    Obviiously I can't sue them due to the 'loopholes' in the ADA... 'reasonable accomodations' means getting a 16 years old CODA to interpret AT the SAME time as performing Liesl? Um I don't think so. What if I wanted to show up to SEE the show and asked for a 'terp - they would say no. (I did ask) So... what grounds does that leave me at?
    Still pissed off...

    A friend told me that I had a legit complaint but I'm wondering what would be the best way to address this situation- I do want to quit but at the same time, those people need to learn how to handle the once-in-a-blue-moon deaf who shows up for auditions... I did FAME with little problem (it did help that 8 of the cast knew basic sign language and three were semi-fluent, and the director was aware of Deaf culture having directed "A Taste of Sunrise"). What do yo think I should do about this?
     
  2. Byrdie714

    Byrdie714 New Member

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    Before I give youmy opinion, a couple of questions "popped up" in my mind.

    Here they are:

    1. You mentioned that it was a community theatre--how long has it been around?

    2. Since they are aware of the grants to provide accessibility--is there an actual grant writer on the board?

    3. Is this a volunteer based community organization.

    Like you--I am also involved with community theatre having done, " A Christmas Spirit", " You have the Right To Remain Dead", "Such a Nice Little Kitty", and " The Christmas Express". I love it and will do anything to help out.

    So--hope to hear from you soon in regards to this. :)
     
  3. scribbler86

    scribbler86 New Member

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    1. I think at least 10 years.
    2. Not that I know of.
    3. Yes and what bothers me is that we had to pay a $50 stipend to participate. If there was no cost then I would be more flexible but I was under the impression that the $50 would pay for the script in addition to costume costs, Now they won't refund the $50... Paid it before being told of unreasonable accommodations. I didn't sign the contract (yet)...
     
  4. jillio

    jillio New Member

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    Because this is a community organization, and you are not being paid for taking part in the production, the ADA does not apply.
     
  5. scribbler86

    scribbler86 New Member

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    So I'm supposed to let it slide and let them get away with discriminating against deafies? N wonder I never see any Deaf kids trying out for 'hearing' musicals... But there is still the issue of the $50 that I want back as they were not following through with what they told me.
     
  6. Byrdie714

    Byrdie714 New Member

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    Then I would ask for it back. If they still refuse--take it to Small Claims.

    It's unfortuante that this is happening to you but again--community theatres are generally volunteered run and do not fall within the parameters of the big theatres in terms of accomodations.

    What you can do is possibly writing a letter to the Editor of the local newspaper and mention your expereince as well as point out the definition of 'community' which includes all.

    I wouldn't want you to cut yourself short from alienating yourself from this community theatre. Have you ever tried directing? If so--find a play that has deaf characters in it to teach them.
     
  7. jillio

    jillio New Member

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    Here's the rub: it was a participation fee. They did not tell you that you couldn't participate. You chose, according to the way you have explained it "not being worth your time" to not participate. The theatre cannot be held responsible for the decision that you made.

    In addition, like you said, the fact that a deaf person has auditioned is a "once in a blue moon" event. You cannot expect them to automatically know what accomodations would be needed. If you want to do the role under those circumstances, then you also have to accept responsibility for educating them.

    Like Byrdie said, you have the option of suing them in Small Claims court to get your money back, but keep in mind that you will have show that they breached the contract. Given the fact that you made the decision not to participate, and that you haven't signed a contract, that will be very difficult to prove.
     
  8. Byrdie714

    Byrdie714 New Member

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    Also remember--many community theatres operate on a shoe-string budget and can't accomodate many people like they would.

    The reason why I was asking if you ever directed a play is because of what Jillio said in the second paragraph that " one must accept responsibility for educating them". By directing a play, like..."Children of the Lesser God"--you would not only be able to educate the theatre group but the entire community as well. :)

    Jillio and I would like to see you work with them, afterall both of us love community theatre as we participated in them as well.

    Be patient and work with them.....and if you want advice or feedback--you know where to find us. :)
     
  9. scribbler86

    scribbler86 New Member

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    I did ask for a meeting with the 'creative' team (ie the director, the choreographer, the music director, etc). Problem: Who will interpret? I asked for one, they can't get one (and the terp referral agency told me I had to have someone make the request for me). So again, I'm stuck.

    I know it's community theater and it's a participatory decision but the main problem is that it's difficult to audition, knwoing there is a stigma (ie "if we cast the deaf actor, we have to pay for an interpreter" which was the result of me not being cast in productions done at other theaters (not only here in MN but in other states I've lived - the only ones I've made any progress are with those done through school as they are required to provide accomodations). It just annoys me knowing that it's difficult to 'break throuogh' to mainstream theater.

    As for 'Children of a Lesser God', I'm sorry but I have a 'thing' for playing Deaf characters - I find it very typecasting. (In fact, I did that in HS and to show them that it was all typecasting, I went to State for drama comptetions and won 4th.... only I didn't sign the exact speech in the script. Instead, I told a humorous story but with all the acting and expressions called for in the script. The judges had no idea (partially because they didn't know sign and that anyone who does Sarah in CoaLG is automatically good. I should know because a classmate (hearing) heard the judge say something about "oh shes deaf... she must be a good Sarah.." and the other judge going something like "you can't go wrong with that show". For the final round, I did my worst job ever.... and managed to scrape a ribbon.

    For that reason, I turned away from 'deaf' roles (I feel like I should NOT limit myself) and instead, went in for musicals (knowing the stigma around that as well... but musicals are more of my niche).

    Yes, not having an legit interpreter or a script handy is an inconvience, but the real problem here is is that Deaf people are limited when they try out for community theater, not being offered the same level of access. So, the real question - is how do we avoid this? I guess I could go and mount a production of "The Sound of Music" in ASL just to spite them off but I'm not going to stoop that low ; )

    As for educating them, I did warn them in advance that I would like a (legit) interpreter and a script and they said okay.... not a problem. Now those are not coming my way. (Still have the emails - saved them all). I explained the role of an interpreter (and why the 16 years old CODA does NOT fill this role) and the need for a script. Yet in the last email, they said "NO" to my requests (and I know there are some interpreters out there that told me they would put in volunteer hours if needed - but the theater needs to call them, which it has not). Either miscommunication or plain laziness. I did even offer to write the grant (as I have had done this before for other requests and I'm currently taking an arts management class and just got an A on my "semester project" to improve access to the performing arts for D/HH and this kind of sceanrio comes in play... How we CAN get interpreters for educational, legal, medical - but not the arts? Why should I shell out (and I do) the extra bucks to see the Broadway tourns (which have interpreters - and I know them all personally) instead of supporting the local community theaters? (and regional theaters... except for the Guthrie - they're the model of accessibility to the arts). That's the main reason why I auditioned - to see what kind of services would be offered at that level and why and how I can change it for future aspiring actors. But at the same time.... it's just "The Sound of Music" and I just wanted to have fun and meet people! How can I do that if the "interpreter" doesn't show up half of the time? I see it as a limitation of my potential as an actor, and as an advocate for access to the arts.
     
  10. noears

    noears New Member

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    Before I jump on this “sensitive” topic on Americans with Disabilities Act, BRAVO to Scribblers86 trying out for a “hearing” production. I am outraged that they felt a minor CODA is a “reasonable” interpreter for you, especially if she is playing a part in the play… This “reasonable” interpreter is a liability to you and the theater since she is a minor and fully incapable of making professional decisions. This is extremely frustrating.. This is why there are grants for non-profit community programs, or profitable community programs, so the disabled have the equal opportunity to experience the fine things in life such as acting, dancing, singing, or yes, participating in a theater show made for the public. This is why Americans with Disabilities Act is in effect, to prevent the disabled from experiencing discrimination or feeling unwanted from the public. Grants are in place so that way the disabled are capable of acting, dancing, singing, or participating in a theater show. It is obvious that the theater you used have ignored the basic accommodations needs for you, as a deaf individual by giving you a script and they had the knowledge of grants provided for paying interpreters for the Deaf. It is obvious to the ignorance of the people, that they expected you to sign Latin in ASL which is impossible, just like asking an ignorant American to speak Spanish in a French accent. This is also a liability to the theater because what if you are not receiving all the information you need to know as a cast member, and you or a other cast member may get hurt on stage, or hurt one of the audience members.. yes I dare to bring out the “what ifs” What if you accidentally walked into a wall, and the curtains fall down on the cast members singing for the audience and caused a uproar… you would have prevented this what if by a interpreter informing you that to go to your right instead of your left.. you get what I mean… You have a right to go to a ADA lawyer and present your evidence, especially if a minor CODA is a “reasonable accommodation” according to the theatre but in reality it is not reasonable and is a liability to everyone including yourself. Yes, the ADA law doesn’t specific where it applies, but I have multiple experiences with the ADA laws, and you HAVE the right to report unreasonable accommodations with this community theatre. This theater is for the community, and it is supposed to meet everyone’s needs by law. Just because it’s made for the community doesn’t mean you are not allowed to be in it.. I would suggest you tell your ADA lawyer about the fifty dollar fee that was promised back to you, and you can sue them for emotional, mental, money and physical damages. Your lawyer will make sure you get that fifty dollars back.. Just because it is a “participation” fee it doesn’t mean that you never participated, you made many efforts to participate, and they just chose to not let you participate the fair way.
    “Because this is a community organization, and you are not being paid for taking part in the production, the ADA does not apply.” By the blogger name Jillio-
    You are not aware of how much the ADA law can extend for you as a deaf individual. Just because it is a community organization doesn’t mean it exclude the disabled.. For example, Libraries are provided for the community.. if a library doesn’t have ramps for the mobility disabled, no electronic doors or press door open for the mobility disabled, no Braille for the Blind, no captioned videos for the deaf, and no fire alarms visible and loud for the seeing impaired and the hearing impaired community members, there will be a riot over no accommodations provided for the disabled for the “community” library meant for the community. Theaters made for the community also have to give reasonable accommodations for their disabled members.. What if there is a mobility disabled patron stuck in the theater because there is a fire on stage due to Scribbler86’s no knowledge of going left instead of right.. it affects every single person involved in the community theater.
    The reason why I was asking if you ever directed a play is because of what Jillio said in the second paragraph that " one must accept responsibility for educating them". By directing a play, like..."Children of the Lesser God"--you would not only be able to educate the theatre group but the entire community as well. Direct quote from a Blogger name Byrdie714
    “Children of the Lesser God” is offensive to me as a deaf individual living among the Hearing world. This play/movie gives no true insight of a deaf individual or the deaf community. Just because I am deaf, doesn’t mean I have to do the “Children of the Lesser God”, maybe I want to participate in something bigger like “ Wicked”, “Spring Awakening”, “Lion King”, “Annie”, “Sound of the Music”, “Rent”, “Cats”, “Beauty and the Beast”, and many more productions being casted all over the world. Why I am only entitled to “Children of the Lesser God” when I know I am CAPABLE of doing what a hearing person can do? Why can’t I educate the community that a DEAF individual are capable of acting Bella for the “Beauty and the Beast”, or capable of being Annie? The Theatre group would be inspired that I am changing the world’s perspective on what a deaf individual is able to do.. but change the standards for the people that are disabled in acting. Why do Hearing people always become HOGS and tell the Deafies what they are not capable of doing? We have eyes, ears, arms, legs, female/male genital parts, toes, fingers, teeth, noses, heart, lung, kidneys, livers, ovaries, hairs, and yes, the ability to feel emotions just like a Hearing person have.
    I am sorry, but I want the HEARINGS to know that the DEAFS are able to do a role that are usually reserved for a hearing cast member. I know, I did a speaking role for “Wicked Stepsisters” in middle school, and everyone was IMPRESSED that I acted just like the character is supposed to be. Everyone (all are hearing) are impressed that (quote) “had the balls to go on stage and act like a hearing person when you are not”… they felt inspired that a Deaf individual is able to prove them wrong by doing a excellent job of acting and inspiring the community that just because you have a disability doesn’t mean that you have to stay in that “area” made for the disabled.. I feel “Children of the Lesser God” is a specific “area” made for the DEAF in acting. I feel that the DEAF community became passive due to the typecasting of the media, and of course the typecasting is made by the HEARING ignorant community members…so “Children of the Lesser God” is a suicide move for acting careers for the actors that are deaf trying to make it big in the theater/acting community because it proves the hearings that the deaf actors will do anything to get recognized even if its playing a unrealistic character role which is the way, “supposed to represent the deaf community” which again is a typecasting by the hearing ignorant people that wants deaf actors to stay out of their way to success.
    Scribbler86, ignore the people that aren’t experienced with the ADA laws, or even what a reasonable accommodation is in a non-profit community… I suggest you do six things-
    1. Print out all of the emails between you and the theater.
    2. Get a copy of that contract before you quit for good.
    3. Get a copy of the 50 dollar requirement (maybe online?)
    4. Contact a ADA lawyer, and set up a meeting with him (make sure to set up a interpreter)
    5. Contact the Grant people, and have a meeting with them, and see what their polices is on theater nonprofit communities, and copy all of their documents that they can give the grant to the theater… important for the ADA lawyer to see.. (or the email between you and the grant people would work as well)
    6. Contact the media; have them run a story on the community theater. The public won’t be thrilled to see that their beloved community theater won’t give reasonable accommodations to a cast member that happens to be disabled.
    Just because the ADA law exempt nonprofit organizations doesn’t mean you have the right to reasonable services, such as one measly interpreter that wants to volunteer or a script or lines that are reasonable in ASL.. Do not give up, don’t scoop down to deaf acting roles.. Suicide move!! It is a liability to the theater, to the community and yourself.. the “community” theater should be setting a example to the community by having reasonable services.. Hang in there!
    Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!
     
  11. jillio

    jillio New Member

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    Actually, I doubt that contacting the media will do much good either. After all, the OP has chosen not to participate. No story for the media to cover. I stand by my suggestion. Instead of alienating oneself by making demands and threatening lawsuits when one does not have a valid basis to do so, educate the production and casting staff. Any onter way will only result in never being offered a role. Community theatres are very tight knit groups. Once blacklisted, always blacklisted. Act like an ass, and you will be sure to get blacklisted.
     
  12. scribbler86

    scribbler86 New Member

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    I haven't made my decision not to partcipate - I'm waiting to see what the meeting will bring. As for what Jillio said about theaters being responsible for paying patrons - I'm a bit confused here because when I asked for an interpreter for the performance for my friend to attend, they told her no accomodations would be provided (ie they won't provide an ASL interpreted performance OR give her a script to read during the show.) So, you said theaters are responsible for "paying patrons" but what if they refuse accomodations to paying patrons too? Where does that leave them?
     
  13. jillio

    jillio New Member

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    I was speaking of professional theatres, not community theatres. Community theatres still do not fall under the ADA. And you asking for a terp for your friend doesn't really leave your friend with any options for dealing with the situation. Your friend would have to request the terp for themselves. I'm sure the theatre would allow an ASL interpretation if the terp volunteered their time to do the show. A community theatre is simply reluctant to pay $20.00 an hour for a terp for one patron. Given the financial situation of most community theatres, I'm sure you can see why they would be reluctant.
     
  14. scribbler86

    scribbler86 New Member

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    I was able to request a meeting with the creative team to explore possible solutions that would benefit all of us. Will see what happens. (And one emailed back saying that the $50 would be refunded if I chose not to stay and participate, so no worries about that).

    I'm curious to see how many others in the Twin Cities want to do theater but are running into obstacles... if there is enough interest - maybe establish our own theater company? That way we can all showcase our talents and not have to negotitate with community theaters... That was part of my long-term plan for Minneapolis-St Paul, to establish something akin to that of ICODA (Int'l Center on Deafness and the Arts) in Northbrook, IL (which I participated during my childhood - some of the happiest memories were made there).

    But first, let's see what the meeting brings...

    PS Jillio, thank you for clarifying that up. It does look like the ADA is in serious need of revamping... or more grants set aside to provide access for the arts.
     
  15. Pod1972

    Pod1972 New Member

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    I suggest have fun... don't get caught up with ADA thing at all on not for porfit... I read many case laws even I was pro se againt a state to restore my rights under ADA and other Act. They let you in and be appreciate of being part of it. Try contact local college, if any, where they provided classes for students, who might required earn hours without paid, to become interpreter. Some city do that.. hope you in right cities to find rookie interpreters without paid....
     
  16. jillio

    jillio New Member

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    YW. And grant monies is available to bring the arts to minority groups. Takes some searching, but there are monies available.
     
  17. AlleyCat

    AlleyCat Well-Known Member

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    Can I ask what community theatre this is? I live in the Twin Cities. I wonder if I could you get any information?
     
  18. scribbler86

    scribbler86 New Member

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    Chaska Valley Family Theatre
     
  19. pek1

    pek1 New Member

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    I'm performing in February in "The Mousetrap" in Detroit Lakes, north of you. This is the first time I've heard of such a thing. I even have three words to sing, but a lot of the script is focused on me. The ADA for a community organization and production? I think I'll stand by what jillio said, as she, to my knowledge, has the most experience on this thread, so far, to comment. You don't want to get blacklisted and, suppose you want to pursue more acting in the future? Doing this will get you avoided and no casting director will touch you. Best thing to do is learn your lines and be very visual with the other cast members.
     
  20. noears

    noears New Member

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    I'm performing in February in "The Mousetrap" in Detroit Lakes, north of you. This is the first time I've heard of such a thing. I even have three words to sing, but a lot of the script is focused on me. The ADA for a community organization and production? I think I'll stand by what jillio said, as she, to my knowledge, has the most experience on this thread, so far, to comment. You don't want to get blacklisted and, suppose you want to pursue more acting in the future? Doing this will get you avoided and no casting director will touch you. Best thing to do is learn your lines and be very visual with the other cast members.
    __________________
    Pete


    Pete, I am insulted that you mentioned Jillio is the most experienced with ADA laws.. what about the deafies that have experiences with dealing with ADA laws.. For example, I dealt with community theatres, and local theatre clubs for school children. Just because Jillio has the most experience with ADA laws, I may have more experiences dealing with the actual discrimination against a deaf theatre member, and getting what a deaf individual needs to have the show succeed.

    Libraries are not the same as a community theatre. Librairies receive local and federal funding which places them in the position of having to abide by any other organization that receives federal, local, or state funding. Check Title V. Libraries are funded by taxpayer money. A community theatre is not.

    Jillio, I was just making a point.. I was not saying that libraries are nonprofit community, I already knew the libraries receive help from the government, but it is basically nonprofit unless they are profiting from late fees. I was just saying if a nonprofit community doesn’t have the usual accommodations for the disabled; it can create accidents, or deaths. For example, I am currently a ASU student, and I am fighting for reasonable services for my education.. ASU don’t have the means to accompany a disabled individuals, and have caused life threatening problems... for example, that memorial union fire (at ASU), a handicapped individual bounded in the wheelchair was stuck in the basement, and was unable to get out without the firemen’s help. I am just saying if a deaf individual or a deaf patron is in theatres, it should have accommodations that are reasonable for everyone’s safety.

    Unfortunately, that would be you.


    Jillo, excuse me, there is no need to be “rude” about who knows more on ADA laws.. I have so many experiences with discrimination and ADA laws.. You would be surprised how much a deaf individual receives discrimination everyday.. I allow it slide by most of the time because it is not worth my time and my energy to fight. I have battled many battles regarding ADA laws with education, and yes with LOCAL theatres.. just because the ADA laws exempt specific situations but there are loopholes and ways to modify your needs and have a win win situation for everyone.

    That would be useless. First off, the theatre is not covered under ADA law. Secondly, they did not refuse to allow this person to participate, the person chose not to participate. That does not qualify for discrimination in any book.
    Jillo, I would suggest you to read everything again, and check your facts before you say this kind of comments.. from what I recall, scribbler86 said she was on the border of quitting or not quitting the theatre production due to lack of accommodations .

    Actually, I doubt that contacting the media will do much good either. After all, the OP has chosen not to participate. No story for the media to cover. I stand by my suggestion. Instead of alienating oneself by making demands and threatening lawsuits when one does not have a valid basis to do so, educate the production and casting staff. Any onter way will only result in never being offered a role. Community theatres are very tight knit groups. Once blacklisted, always blacklisted. Act like an ass, and you will be sure to get blacklisted.

    How would you know if MEDIA will not care? From my experiences, the media was eager to get the story out there regarding ADA laws.. Media wants the community to have knowledge within their community, and they are not heartless. Like I said, there are loopholes, and ways to get your needs without a lawyer or a judge. No one is threatening a lawsuit yet, we are just discussing how to get facts and materials to back up people’s claims on promises or no promises.. gathering evidence, and figuring out what can happen if you go with plan A or plan B or Plan C.. You get my drift.. Scribbler86 have tried on many different counts to educate the staff and the casting people, if you actually read what she said, she attempted many different methods to educate.. They just don’t want to learn and accommodate her needs.. just because educating people may work but it doesn’t always work in some situations like Scribbler86.
     

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