The APA and Deafness
Until the 1960s, people who were Deaf and mentally ill lacked access to psychological treatment. Few mental hospitals and clinics had interpreters available, and few psychologists and mental health professionals had knowledge of sign language. Major court decisions and federal laws have effected change, culminating with the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990. This legislation gave people who are Deaf the right to equal access to mental health care as well as a host of other opportunities they had been previously denied. New access laws allowed Deaf students to become educated as psychologists, and a number of hearing psychologists who knew sign language entered the field of deafness. These two groups assumed vital roles within the American Psychological Association in addressing the issue of mental health access for people who are Deaf.