Tuesday, June 18 2013, 09:14 AM MDT
Deaf Woman Wants To Be E.M.T; Claims Discrimination
By Matt Gephardt and Michelle Poe
(KUTV) Ashley Kuster says that she wants to save lives by becoming an emergency medical technician. To do so, she took the right classes at Weber State University and she passed all the exams. Now all she has to do is take the state test to become certified but she is not being given that chance because she is deaf.
Deaf or not, Ashley says she can do the job and wants the chance to prove it. But she cannot take the state test without a written recommendation from Weber State and Weber State says they will not write that recommendation because she cannot hear without hearing aids.
“I want to be able to take my test, pass the test, either fail or pass on my own account, not on somebody else’s account of my supposed failure,” Ashley says.
Ashley says she called the state asking for help but got none.
“They stated to me that I need to take it up with my coordinator. There's nothing they can do until I take it up with my coordinator.”
And when the Weber State coordinator would not budge, Ashley decided to Get Gephardt.
2News looked up the Utah state rules to be an E.M.T. and they do specifically talk about hearing being a necessity. However, the rules also state that "reasonable accommodations are considered by the bureau on a case by case basis." Ashley says, in her case that would be hearing aids.
2News took those rules back to Weber State University and the director of media relations, John Kowalewski. In lieu of a re-reading of the state standards, this time Weber State relented and decided to write Ashley a letter of recommendation to take the state E.M.T. test. Kowalewski blames confusion on the part of Ashley’s instructor for why the letter was not originally written.
“Going forward we have greater clarification on how our E.M.T educators are expected to follow up with the state,” Kowalewski says. And he adds, “Great effort was put in to assure that Ashley was not disadvantaged in any way.”
With that, Ashley was finally allowed to take the state exam, and she passed. Ashley says she plans to further her education before attempting to get a job as an E.M.T. Job or not, Ashley is the first hearing impaired person to be certified as an E.M.T. in the state of Utah. We found that there are at least 25 other deaf persons who work as E.M.T’s, paramedics and firefighters in the United States.
(Copyright 2012 Sinclair Broadcasting Group)