Business LawRaxter LawUncategorizedDeaf and Hard of Hearing Person’s right to effective communication – ADA Compliance

December 4, 2019by RaxterLaw

For reasons unknown or based on costs, places such as hospitals, doctor’s offices, schools, movie theaters and other places of public accommodation refuse to provide communication access to deaf or hard of hearing people.

It is against the law for employers, hospitals, governments, and other entities to discriminate against you based on your hearing loss. You have a right to be provided reasonable accommodations for your disability and to not be discriminated against.

Federal law requires places of public accommodation to provide information and services in a way that deaf and hard of hearing individuals can access and understand.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and other federal and state laws prohibit businesses from discrimination. If you are deaf or hard of hearing, this means that, among other things, that businesses and places of public accommodation must furnish you with appropriate “auxiliary aids and services” in order to ensure “effective communication.” Examples of common auxiliary aids and services include qualified interpreters, audio recordings, captioned videos, note takers, teletypewriters, and visual alarms.

Why Are Auxiliary Aids Important?

Clear communication is essential for the provision of safe and effective services to all people, including people with hearing impairment or members of the deaf community.

Without appropriate auxiliary aids and services, the businesses are unable to effectively communicate with deaf or hard of hearing people.

To What Providers and Services Does the Law Apply?

In general, any business open to public would be subject to ADA law.

What Does the Law Require?

Federal and State law requires business and public accommodation providers to communicate effectively with deaf and hard of hearing people. Providers must ensure that no one with a hearing disability is denied services or treated differently than other individuals because of the absence of auxiliary communication aids and services.

Which Auxiliary Aids and Services Should Be Provided?

People with hearing disabilities communicate using a number of different possible methods. Which auxiliary aids and services a business should offer, and whether or not they ultimately provide effective communication, will vary according to the context and the specific needs of the deaf or hard of hearing individual.

There are numerous ways to provide reasonable accommodations, however, in general the use of a qualified sign language interpreter may be the only way to ensure effective communication.

Providing Interpreters

When an interpreter is provided, they must be “qualified.” To be qualified under the ADA, an interpreter must be able to interpret “effectively, accurately, and impartially, both receptively and expressively” for the specific deaf or hard of hearing individual in question. For example, a deaf customer who communicates using American Sign Language (ASL) will need an interpreter that is sufficiently fluent in ASL, which uses a different grammar and syntax than English. However, an ASL interpreter may not be qualified to communicate with a deaf patient who only uses Signed English, which is distinct from ASL.

An interpreter may not be necessary for every exchange. For example, gestural communication, such as pointing to an object, may be sufficient under the law for simple exchanges like selecting an item for purchase. Exchanging written notes may be enough for simple communications.

In general,a business cannot require a deaf or hard of hearing person to bring someone with them to interpret or facilitate communication as this would be the responsibility of the business.

Lastly, businesses are not permitted to charge a person with a hearing disability for the costs of communication aids and services.


Jeremiah Raxter

27851 Bradley Rd, Ste 145

Menifee, Ca 92586


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