Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Appeals court turns aside complaint of Deaf IBM employee

An appeals court has sided with IBM against one of its deaf New York employees who said the company did not have to provide captions for videos. IBM had given software engineer Alfred Noll access to an interpreter and the the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit said that was enough. Noll wants the captioning put on video and audio files available to employees through IBM's internal system. He was given transcripts--days after he would make a request. One of the judges wrote, "Although we credit Noll's assertion that it was 'tiring and confusing' to divide his visual attention between interpreters and his screen, this disadvantage does not render interpretive services ineffective. A person who is deaf necessarily receives auditory information from the other senses (principally, sight); so it can be expected that many accommodations of deafness— ASL interpretive services as well as captioning—will tax visual attention to some degree. An accommodation for deafness therefore cannot be rendered ineffective by the need to divide visual attention, without more...the ADA imposes no liability for an employer’s failure to explore alternative accommodations when the accommodations provided to the employee were plainly reasonable.” See the ruling here.