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Part Five Educational Rights

Ms. Eckberg lobbied continually for the educational rights of deaf children. Likewise, she sought to improve the social conditions and assert the civil rights of all deaf citizens. Outside of school hours, she worked as a news editor and secretary for the Omaha Association of the Deaf, a social group geared toward fostering a sense of community amongst deaf residents. Furthermore, she served on the Midwest Telephone Relay Board to ensure that optimally accessible, high-quality services were being provided for regional deaf citizens who relied on TTY systems to communicate via telephone (to read more about TTY, visit http://www.michdhh.org/assistive_devices/text_telephone.html). She participated in these activities throughout the 1970s and 80s, eventually waging a much more public battle for the deaf community.

 

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Part Six Striving for Justice

In 1988, a local judge told Ann Eckberg that she could not serve jury duty, citing her deafness as a disqualifier. Most people would have resigned themselves to the overawing authority of law, but Eckberg was not like most people. On the spot, she indicted the judge, who had pulled her aside from a line of prospective jurors. In an unflinchingly frank tone, before everyone present at the Douglas County courthouse, she asserted that he was discriminating against her. Of the incident, she recounted, “I could have told them that I didn’t want to serve and gotten off, but I felt that I had to fight to get what was mine” (Geer 17). In an added comment, she stressed that this fight was not just for her own benefit, professing, “I’ve had students who say they can’t. I told them