If I am using my facility to host a job fair, must I provide a sign language interpreter?

  • When is an organization or business required to provide an interpreter?

Public entities and private businesses have responsibilities under the ADA to furnish appropriate auxiliary aids and services where necessary to ensure effective communication with individuals with disabilities. A qualified sign language interpreter is considered an auxiliary aid or service.

Promotional and registration materials for the job fair should include and explain how the public may request a particular auxiliary aid or service such as an interpreter. This information should include contact information and a deadline for requesting individualized accommodations to ensure there is enough time to hire an interpreter. 

Depending on the nature of the communication involved at the job fair, the ADA allows for flexibility in determining effective communication solutions.  The goal is to find practical solutions for communicating effectively. For example, if a person who is deaf is seeking a list of job openings, exchanging written notes with the employer representative may be effective. However, if that person is going to participate in an interview skills class during the job fair, effective communication would likely require a qualified sign language interpreter because of the nature, length, and complexity of the conversation.

Providing an interpreter guarantees that both parties will understand what is being said. Revised ADA regulations permit the use of new technologies including video remote interpreting (VRI), a service that allows businesses that have video conference equipment to access an interpreter at another location.

A private business should consult with individuals with disabilities whenever possible to determine what type of auxiliary aid is needed to ensure effective communication, but the ultimate decision as to what measures to take rests with the private business, provided that the method chosen results in effective communication. However, public entities must give primary consideration to the request of the individuals with disabilities.

  • Who is responsible for paying for the interpreter?

Your job fair organizers and sponsors will need to negotiate how to cover the costs of auxiliary aids and services.  All public entities and private businesses participating in the job fair have responsibilities under the ADA to provide effective communication.  A common solution is to build accommodation costs into the vendor or registration fees.