James requested a sign language interpreter to help him understand instructions and information provided by gym staff, as he has difficulty understanding spoken language. However, gym staff refused his request, stating that they did not have the budget for an interpreter and that he should “watch and learn” from other gym-goers.
Furthermore, it is important to note refusing a sign language interpreter for a Deaf individual is not only a violation of their rights, its also causes barriers to accessing fitness and well-being services, which is crucial for the overall well-being of the person.
This incident serves as a reminder that businesses, including gyms, are responsible for ensuring that their services are accessible and inclusive for all individuals, regardless of their abilities. Gym owners need to understand that investing in accessibility measures is required. An example is providing sign language interpreters and not only the right thing to do but also is beneficial for business, it shows that they are committed to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for all clients.
As the CEO of Worldwide Deaf Gym said:
” I am deeply saddened by the recent incident of a Deaf man with Usher Syndrome being denied a sign language interpreter by a gym. This denial is a violation of the DDA and a lack of inclusivity alongside the right to communication. We stand with the Deaf and hard-of-hearing community. We will continue to fight for accessibility in the fitness industry. We urge all gym owners to commit to inclusivity and contact us for support.”