Deaf Surrey man loses human rights fight

Darrell Siebring argued his strata should pay for two sign language interpreters, not just one

A deaf Surrey man has lost his fight against his strata, whom he accused of discriminating against him on the grounds of physical disability for refusing to pay for an additional sign language interpreter at its annual general meetings.

Darrell Siebring filed his complaint with the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal in March and the building’s manager then applied to have it dismissed, denying discrimination and arguing that the situation had already been remedied.

Tribunal member Kathleen Smith noted in her reasons to dismiss the complaint, issued Nov. 23, that Siebring requires interpretation to be able to participate in the strata meetings and that the strata already agreed to pay for one sign language interpreter.

Siebring had previously complained to the tribunal that the strata failed to accommodate his disability, resulting in agreements dated Oct. 22, 2012 and May 9, 2016 that set out the conditions under which the strata arranges and pays for interpretation services at its meetings.

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Smith said Siebring then emailed a representative of the strata in January, advancing his argument that under the agreement he is actually entitled to have two interpreters. “He says that the refusal to pay for two interpreters is discrimination and a breach of the agreement,” she noted.

“The strata ultimately responded that the terms of the agreement obligate it to pay for only one interpreter and that any additional interpreter would be at Mr. Siebring’s expense.”

Smith decided Siebring’s complaint has “no reasonable prospect of success” because he didn’t provide evidence of any adverse impact he’s allegedly experienced.

“Because Mr. Siebring has not articulated any allegations of adverse impact, I find that he has no reasonable prospect of establishing that he suffered an adverse impact as a result of the strata’s refusal to pay for two interpreters at the AGM,” Smith concluded. “If Mr. Siebring has no reasonable prospect of establishing this element of his case, it follows that he has no reasonable prospect of succeeding with his complaint.”

She dismissed it “in its entirety.”



tom.zytaruk@surreynowleader.com

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