effective communication

Are there any circumstances when a public or a private entity is not required to provide effective communication?

Yes, public and private entities do not have to provide an auxiliary aid or service if doing so would create “a fundamental alteration” in the goods or services being offered or would result in an “undue burden” which means “significant difficulty or expense.” However, they still must do their best to provide a different auxiliary aid that would ensure effective communication if at all possible. And state and local government agencies have to do a bit more explaining why not than private businesses do.

Who chooses the auxiliary aid or service that will be provided?

The person making the request should be clear about his/her needs; the person providing the auxiliary aid or service needs to be sure that what is provided is also effective. 

If the request comes to a state or local government agency, the agency must give priority to the type of auxiliary aid or service the person identifies.  If the request comes to a Title III or private entity, however, the business can decide on the specific type of auxiliary aid it provides as long as the aid provided is equally effective in ensuring accurate communication. 

What are auxiliary aids and services?

Auxiliary aids and services are items, equipment or services that assist in effective communication between a person who has a hearing, vision or speech disability and a person who does not. There is a list of examples in the ADA, but the ADA was written in 1990. There are so many new technologies and services that have been invented and discovered since then, that the items listed in the ADA are not the only options available.

What are some examples of effective communication?

Effective communication can include:

  • Hospitals that provide televisions for use by patients and hotels, motels and places of lodging that provide televisions in five or more guest rooms must provide a closed caption decoder upon request.
  • Tax bills and other print communication by a state or local government must be made available to individuals with vision impairments in a form that is usable by them.
  • PowerPoint presentations at city council meetings must be described to someone who can not see.

Who is covered under the requirement for effective communication?

People who have communication disabilities – disabilities that affect hearing, vision, or speech — are covered.  A person with a communication disability has the right to enjoy equal opportunity to participate in and benefit from all programs, services, and activities, whether they are provided by a state or local government, or they are provided by a public accommodation.

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.

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