The Americans with Disabilities Act and Effective Communication
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed more that twenty years ago in 1992. Although this federal law has been on the books for over two decades, many people are still unaware of its requirements and to whom it applies. Most businesses and organizations fall under this law. Most people now realize that businesses must provide accommodations like wheelchair ramps, but many don’t understand that the same law that requires the ramps also requires the public accommodation to provide for sign language interpreters. Most of the time, the fees associated with providing these accommodations are tax deductible, so make sure to check with your tax professional. Title III of the ADA covers communication with the Deaf or hard of hearing. It makes some pretty straight forward mandates*:
- A public accommodation shall furnish appropriate auxiliary aids and services where necessary to ensure effective communication with individuals with disabilities. This includes an obligation to provide effective communication to companions who are individuals with disabilities. (36.303)
- A public accommodation shall not require an individual with a disability to bring another individual to interpret for him or her. (36.303(c)(2))
- A public accommodation shall not rely on an adult accompanying an individual with a disability to interpret or facilitate communication. (36.303(c)(3))
For a more detailed analysis, please see the ADA Title III Regulations.
Here is a great video in ASL that covers how Deaf individuals can advocate for their rights under Title III
*Refusing to provide effective communication is a violation of a federal law and may result in legal action taken by the party with a disability.