Rights of Deaf And Hard of Hearing Under the Americans With Disabilities Act

Provided by the Michigan Association For Deaf, Hearing and Speech Services

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a law that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities, including deaf and hearing impaired people. There are four sections in the law: employment, government, public accommodations, and telecommunications. Each section of the ADA lists services that should be provided for deaf individuals. The ADA adds more protection for handicapped persons to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

This brochure includes some basic information on your rights under the ADA as a deaf or hearing impaired person. There are five areas covered in this brochure:

- Public Accommodations, Stores, Businesses
- Medical Treatment
- Employment
- State and Local Government, Courts, Attorneys
- Telecommunications

In each area, there are other rules that may apply to your situation. MADHS can provide more information or answer your questions.

In general, the ADA expects agencies, businesses, service providers, and employers to remove barriers that prevent a deaf person from participating. Some of the rules are being added gradually, so organizations can have time to make the changes.

The law does allow for some exceptions, when the changes that would be needed would cost too much. If an agency or business cannot make all the changes, the law says they must try to do as much as possible to become accessible for deaf and hearing impaired persons.

The law also says you need to tell agencies and businesses what you need to communicate. Notes, interpreters, and telecommunication devices for the deaf (TDDs) are all ways to communicate, but you need to let providers know what you are comfortable using.

State and Local government includes a long list of agencies and services in addition to government offices and courts. Some of these are social service agencies, jails, police/fire, school systems, public swimming pools, municipal golf courses, civic arenas, lottery bureaus, or zoos. Deaf persons should be able to participate in these services.

Government agencies may need to provide a qualified interpreter when requested by the deaf consumer. It is your responsibility, as a consumer, to ask for an interpreter before the appointment. You are not responsible for the interpreter's bill. The agency must pay the fees. Assistive listening devices may also be used when you request them and when appropriate.

If you need to go to court, you must call the court and ask for an interpreter who is certified. The cost of the interpreter cannot be added to any court costs. Family members and friends should not act as interpreter for you. They will not be paid by the court. You should also ask for a certified interpreter to work with you and your lawyer.

A deaf person should not be excused from jury duty just because they are deaf. The court will provide an interpreter or assistive listening device at no cost. PUBLIC ACCOMODATIONS
Stores, Businesses, hotels, theaters, restaurants, retail stores, banks, museums, parks, libraries, and private schools should all provide auxiliary aids and services for communicating with deaf people. Sometimes, written notes are enough to communicate information. At other times, an assistive listening device, TDD, or an interpreter is needed.

Public accommodations or businesses like hotels must provide TDDs when phones are available for the general public. At least one TDD should be installed in shopping malls, hospital waiting rooms, stadiums, convention centers, airports, or any building with more than four pay telephones.

Movie theaters do not have to provide captioned films, but other places that present information on film or TV should either caption the presentation or provide an interpreter. Aids for deaf and hearing impaired should be provided for presentations at conventions or performances at a hotel..

MEDICAL TREATMENT Hospitals that receive money from the U.S. government must provide equal services to deaf persons. Hospitals must be sure deaf persons can communicate with doctors and nurses. As a deaf person, you should choose the kind of communication you prefer: sign/oral interpreter, written notes, lip reading, assistive listening devices, or a combination.

When important communication is needed, the ADA says the hospital must provide a qualified interpreter. Important communication includes discussions about your sickness and what kinds of treatment are needed or available. It also includes registering at the hospital or anytime you are asked to fill out papers, providing medical information or when you are discharged. If you cannot understand the interpreter provided by the hospital, ask for a different interpreter. The hospital cannot charge you for the interpreter. The hospital may not have an interpreter on staff. If possible, try to make an appointment so the hospital can arrange for an interpreter to be there.

You may not always need an interpreter at a hospital. In many routine situations, such as having your temperature and/or blood pressure taken, taking medication, or ordering meals, written communication can be used. If you need to stay in the hospital and have a television in your room, the hospital must provide a decoding device for closed caption viewing. The hospital must also provide you with a TDD.

Classes given to the general public must also be open for deaf persons to attend. When you register for the class, let the hospital know you are deaf and tell them you need an interpreter, so an interpreter will be available for the class.

Private practice doctors are also required to follow the ADA laws. Communication is just as important at the doctor's office as it is at the hospital. Ask for an interpreter or assistive listening device. The doctor's office should provide this at no charge.

The ADA says employers cannot discriminate in the job application process, hiring, firing, salary/pay, promotion, or any other benefit of being an employee. This means a qualified interpreter should be available for a job interview. If a verbal test is part of the job application process, the employer should provide an appropriate written test for a deaf applicant.

The deaf person should be able to do the most important parts of the job without assistance. Employers should change a job whenever possible to allow a deaf or hearing impaired person the opportunity to do the job. If answering the phone is one small part of the job and you can do the other parts of the job by yourself, your employer should assign the phone duties to someone else.

The ADA covers employers with more than 25 employees. After July 26, 1994 the ADA will cover employers with 15 or more employees.

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