Document Type



Summer 7-24-2012


disability discrimination, effective communication, undifferentiated graduate, without handicap




Medical schools utilize a set of technical standards used to screen applicants with disabilities, and one of the standards, which deals with communication, requires the applicant to be capable of speech and hearing. To the extent that medical schools exclude an applicant with a hearing impairment on the ground that the applicant cannot hear and speak, such exclusion would be (and should be) a violation of federal law. Schools must engage in an individualized assessment of how a Deaf medical candidate would satisfy the communication standard. The notion of an “undifferentiated graduate,” where all graduates qualify for practice in any field of medical practice and research, is outdated. Providing the Deaf candidate with an appropriate auxiliary aid such as a sign language interpreter would not constitute a fundamental alteration of the medical school’s program, nor would the interpreter serve as an intermediary substituting his judgment for that of the candidate. This Article is structured as a memorandum of law arguing for a construction of the technical standard of communication that is open to the different ways – via appropriate auxiliary aids – Deaf students communicate. Ends matter, not means.

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