California’s protection & advocacy system
For legal assistance call 800-776-5746. For all other purposes call 916-504-5800 in Northern CA
or 213-213-8000 in Southern CA. TTY 800-719-5798.
On numerous occasions when Louis Fresquez, who is Deaf, went to his local Social Security Administration (SSA) office, he had to wait hours to be served because the field office was not equipped to communicate with Deaf consumers. When he checked-in, he was given a number and told to wait until he was called. Since he couldn’t hear the announcements, he waited, sometimes all day until someone noticed him and directed him to an SSA representative. Frustrated, Louis contacted DRC.
Over a two year period, DRC met with high-level administrators at SSA to resolve this issue not only for Louis, but also for other Deaf and hard of hearing consumers. As a result, sensitivity and compliance trainings were conducted at SSA field offices throughout the state. In addition, the SSA installed monitors in all field offices throughout the country so Deaf clients like Louis can see their number when it’s called.
“We fought hard for this and I believe this change is a positive step towards equal access for Deaf consumers who rely on Social Security Insurance,” said DRC attorney Deborah Gettleman.
“This change makes me feel so good,” Louis said. “I don’t have to spend the whole day there anymore. The last time I went I was served in less than 20 minutes. Without DRC’s help this would not have happened. Many Deaf people rely on social security and so this change impacts all of their lives.”