Re: Discriminatory Practices at Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador (MUN)

Monday, September 21, 2015

Official Statement from the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association (CHHA)

The Canadian Hard of Hearing Association (CHHA) strongly believes that equal access to education is a basic
human right. The 2012 decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in Moore v. British Columbia affirmed the
fundamental rights of students with special needs to access the supports they need to ensure full inclusion.

With alarm, CHHA learned last week of MUN professor Dr. Ranee Panjabi’s refusal to wear an FM microphone to
accommodate a student with a hearing loss enrolled in her class. Equally disturbing is the fact that MUN has
allowed this practice to persist throughout Dr. Panjabi’s lengthy tenure, dating as far back as 1985.

The message to MUN students with a hearing loss comes through loud and clear: “Do not expect accommodation for your disability if attending any of Dr. Panjabi’s classes.”

Read CBC story here – Sept. 18, 2015 http://www.accessibilitynewsinternational.com/mun-prof-refuses-to-wear-device-for-hearing-disabled-student-cites-religious-reasons/ .

In response, MUN revealed the existence of a closely guarded agreement with Dr. Panjabi signed in 1996 which
exempts her from wearing the transmitter, citing religious beliefs prevent her from doing so.

For nearly 20 years, MUN has fostered an environment whereby Dr. Panjabi’s religious
rights have trumped the disability rights of students with hearing loss. When balancing competing or conflicting human rights, respectful and creative consideration often results in an equitable balancing of these rights; MUN failed to undertake this consideration. In addition, this agreement with Dr. Panjabi was made when students with disabilities attending post-secondary institutions were small in number; this is no longer the case.

CHHA has written a letter requesting that MUN revisit the legality of its agreement with Dr. Panjabi at its earliest opportunity, as well as ensure its overall accommodation policy strikes an equitable balance of competing rights moving forward.

To view the letter, visit our website at
http://www.chha.ca.

About CHHA

The Canadian Hard of Hearing Association (CHHA) is Canada’s only consumer-based organization formed by and for Canadians living with a hearing loss.

A nationwide bilingual non-profit organization, CHHA works
cooperatively with professionals, service providers, and government bodies to provide information about
hearing loss issues and solutions. CHHA’s goal is to increase public awareness of hearing loss and to help Canadians with hearing loss fully integrate into Canadian society.

Media Inquiries:

Myrtle Barrett, President
CHHA National
Telephone: 1-800-263-8068
Email: president@chha.ca