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Deaf student sues LaTrobe University

  • October 3, 2008
  • Bruce Bromley

Emily Power
October 01, 2008 12:00am

A DEAF student has launched legal action against La Trobe University for allegedly failing to provide the help she needs to study.

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Court hearing: deaf student Marina Crvenkovic. Picture: Bruce Magilton.

Mariana Crvenkovic, 23, is seeking thousands of dollars in compensation, and wants signing interpreters and notetakers to assist her in all lectures and tutorials.

She claims she has struggled through three years of her Bachelor of Pharmacy degree at the Bendigo campus.

In legal documents, Ms Crvenkovic alleges she could not attend some classes because the university did not provide interpreters for hour-long lessons.

She claims she has been given under-qualified interpreters who cannot keep up.

She also alleges that fellow students have been asked to take notes for her, which she cannot read.

Ms Crvenkovic claims her marks have dropped and she feels isolated on campus.

She told the Herald Sun: “I explained I needed an interpreter and a notetaker, and they never said there would be any problem providing them.

“As hard as I work, because of the problems with support, it’s not working out.

“Mentally and physically I have suffered. I have felt like giving up.”

Her lawyers, Access Law, lodged a Federal Court statement of claim after mediation failed.

Access Law human rights advocate Julie Phillips said hearing-impaired students had the right to be consulted on their best methods for learning.

La Trobe Pro Vice-Chancellor Dr Kerry Ferguson insisted the university followed disability guidelines.

He said that it employed the highest-level accredited interpreters and trained high-performing students as notetakers.

“We look at each student’s individual needs and respond appropriately,” he said.