FAQ: Communication

Question:

How does the ADA make telecommunications accessible?

Answer:

The ADA requires the establishment of telephone relay services for individuals who use telecommunications devices for deaf persons (TDD's) or similar devices. The Federal Communications Commission has issued regulations specifying standards for the operation of these services.

From The Pacific ADA Center: http://www.adapacific.org/ada/faq/misc.php

From The Northeast ADA Center: http://www.northeastada.org/r-factsheets.cfm

Question:

What kinds of auxiliary aids and services are required by the ADA to ensure effective communication with individuals with hearing or vision impairments?

Answer:

There is a long list of potential auxiliary aids and services available to ensure effective communication with people with disabilities. The appropriate solution will depend on the needs of the individual and on how complex the information is that you are trying to communicate. Appropriate auxiliary aids and services may include services and devices such as qualified interpreters on-site or through video remote interpreting (VRI) services; note takers; real-time computer-aided transcription services; written materials; exchange of written notes; telephone handset amplifiers; assistive listening devices; assistive listening systems; telephones compatible with hearing aids; closed caption decoders; open and closed captioning, including real-time captioning; voice, text, and video-based telecommunications products and systems, including text telephones (TTYs), videophones, and captioned telephones, or equally effective telecommunications devices; videotext displays; accessible electronic and information technology; or other effective methods of making aurally delivered information available to individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing; qualified readers; taped texts; audio recordings; Brailed materials and displays; screen reader software; magnification software; optical readers; secondary auditory programs (SAP); large print materials; accessible electronic and information technology; or other effective methods of making visually delivered materials available to individuals who are blind or have low vision.

The ADA does not require the provision of any auxiliary aid that would result in an undue burden or in a fundamental alteration in the nature of the goods or services provided by a public accommodation. However, the public accommodation is not relieved from the duty to furnish an alternative auxiliary aid, if available, that would not result in a fundamental alteration or undue burden.

From The ADA National Network: http://adata.org/faq/what-kinds-auxiliary-aids-and-services-are-required-ada-ensure-effective-communication

Question:

Do businesses need to have a qualified interpreter on hand in order to communicate with a person who is deaf?

Answer:

Generally no, not if employees are able to communicate by using pen and notepad and it is effective. However, in situations where the exchange of information is over a long duration, or the information being exchanged is complex, it may be necessary for the business to provide a qualified interpreter. A business should discuss with the person with the disability to determine which auxiliary aid or service will result in effective communication.

From The ADA National Network:http://adata.org/faq/do-businesses-need-have-qualified-interpreter-hand-order-communicate-person-who-deaf 

Question:

Do state or local entities need to make reasonable modifications in order to communicate with a person with disabilities?

Answer:

Yes. According to the ADA government entities must make sure that people with disabilities have the same access to information that others have, this requirement is called effective communication.  There are many ways that you can provide equal access to communications for people with disabilities. A few examples of these “auxiliary aids and services” include written materials, an accessible website, TTY’s, exchange of written notes, or qualified interpreters.

From The DOJ’s "ADA Best Practices Tool Kit for State and Local Governments": http://www.ada.gov/pcatoolkit/chap3toolkit.htm

Question:

What type of accommodations might an individual with a hearing disability need in the workplace?

Answer:

According to the ADA, an employer has a duty to provide a reasonable accommodation that is effective to allow a person with a disability to perform the essential functions of their job. The appropriate accommodation for someone with a hearing disability will vary according to the type of disability the person has and the essential functions of their job. There are many potential options that may work for someone with a hearing disability. Start by talking to the person with the hearing disability about what might work for them. Examples of accommodations a qualified applicant or employee with hearing disability may need include: a sign language interpreter, a TTY, text telephone, voice carry-over telephone, or captioned telephone, a telephone headset, appropriate emergency notification systems (e.g., strobe lighting on fire alarms or vibrating pagers), written memos and notes (especially used for brief, simple, or routine communications), work area adjustments (e.g., a desk away from a noisy area or near an emergency alarm with strobe lighting), assistive computer software (e.g., net meetings, voice recognition software, assistive listening devices (ALDs), augmentative communication devices that allow users to communicate orally by typing words that are then translated to sign language or a simulated voice, communication access real-time translation (CART), which translates voice into text at real-time speeds, and altering an employee’s marginal (i.e., non-essential) job functions, among others. You can get additional information about potential accommodations by visiting: http://askjan.org/media/hearing.html

From The EEOC: http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/publications/qa_deafness.cfm

For more information, see our Effective Communication Fact Sheet at: http://www.northeastada.org/docs/National%20ADA%20Fact%20Sheets/National%20ADA%20Center%20Fact%20Sheet%202%20EFFECTIVE%20COMMUNICATION.pdf