In 1990, the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) became law. Since then Deaf people’s lives have seen a huge improvement Today, nearly 3 decades later we see Deaf actors, doctors, veterinarians, professors, researchers politicians and scientists. Deaf people attend their children’s school programs, city council meetings, guest speakers, and complete graduate level programs. In Rochester alone, there are well over 35 Deaf professionals with a PhD or advanced medical degree. This is thanks to the ADA.
Here are a few things you may not know about the ADA.
There are four sections of the ADA that pertain to interpreting services. Title I is about employment. Employers are required to provide access to employees for things like employee meetings and trainings.
Title II is about the government’s responsibility. The government must provide access for any public meeting of the government, all courts, and any announcements that the public must know about like hurricane warnings.
Title III is about places that provide services to the public. Doctors, lawyers, organizations, theaters, schools, or any place that provides information, services and entertainment, must make their service accessible upon request.
Title IV led to the development of the Video Relay Services so that people who can’t hear on the phone, can call anyone through the use of an on-demand interpreter.
Because of the ADA, all you have to do it request the service. All entities are required to provide a qualified interpreter if that is what is requested. They can’t require a Deaf person to pay for the service, or tell you to “bring your own” interpreter.
Can anyone refuse to hire an interpreter?
Churches are exempt, as are small businesses where providing interpreter may cause significant financial hardship to the paying person. Otherwise, all are required under the law.
The ADA requires an entity to provide a ‘qualified’ ASL Interpreter if requested. What does that mean?
The ADA doesn’t specify what ‘qualified’ means. Who decides if the interpreter is qualified? This is an issue for people who live in a state without interpreting licensure. New York is one of them. There is no law defining what ‘qualified’ means except in court.
If you are requesting an interpreter, request someone who is certified by the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf. Most places recognize the RID as a reliable certifying organization.
What do I do if my doctor or employer refuses to hire an interpreter after I request one?
You have the right to file a lawsuit for discrimination against any entity that refuses to hire an interpreter. Often, the threat of a lawsuit is enough to make the entity take the request more seriously. Contact the New York Division of Human Rights for more information. email@example.com or fax it to 718-741-8322.
If you request an interpreter, and the interpreters is not qualified, tell them that the accommodation is not working for you. Ask them to replace the interpreter with someone who is more qualified.
If you’re looking for an ASL interpreter for personal or business-related reasons, turn to Sign Language Connection of Rochester, NY. They offer cost-effective pricing to make affording this essential service even easier. They can also call and make sure any entity has up to date information on the law and provides access to direct communication. 585-454-4220
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