What is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) ?

ADA for Employers

Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) applies to private employers and state or local governments as employers.  ADA Title I prohibits employers, employment agencies, labor unions and joint labor-management committees from discriminating against persons with disabilities.  Title I applies only to employers with 15 or more employees.

Disability Discrimination

Disability discrimination occurs when an employer or other entity covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act, as amended, or the Rehabilitation Act, as amended, treats a qualified individual with a disability who is an employee or applicant unfavorably because she has a disability.

Disability discrimination also occurs when a covered employer or other entity treats an applicant or employee less favorably because she has a history of a disability (such as cancer that is controlled or in remission) or because she is believed to have a physical or mental impairment that is not transitory (lasting or expected to last six months or less) and minor (even if she does not have such an impairment).

The law requires an employer to provide reasonable accommodation to an employee or job applicant with a disability, unless doing so would cause significant difficulty or expense for the employer (“undue hardship”).

The law also protects people from discrimination based on their relationship with a person with a disability (even if they do not themselves have a disability). For example, it is illegal to discriminate against an employee because her husband has a disability.

Note: Federal employees and applicants are covered by the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, instead of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The protections are mostly the same.

Disability Discrimination & Work Situations

The law forbids discrimination when it comes to any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoff, training, fringe benefits, and any other term or condition of employment.

Disability Discrimination & Harassment

It is illegal to harass an applicant or employee because he has a disability, had a disability in the past, or is believed to have a physical or mental impairment that is not transitory (lasting or expected to last six months or less) and minor (even if he does not have such an impairment).

Harassment can include, for example, offensive remarks about a person’s disability. Although the law doesn’t prohibit simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents that aren’t very serious, harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision (such as the victim being fired or demoted).

The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or someone who is not an employee of the employer, such as a client or customer.

Disability Discrimination & Reasonable Accommodation

The law requires an employer to provide reasonable accommodation to an employee or job applicant with a disability, unless doing so would cause significant difficulty or expense for the employer.

A reasonable accommodation is any change in the work environment (or in the way things are usually done) to help a person with a disability apply for a job, perform the duties of a job, or enjoy the benefits and privileges of employment.

Reasonable accommodation might include, for example, making the workplace accessible for wheelchair users or providing a reader or interpreter for someone who is blind or hearing impaired.

While the federal anti-discrimination laws don’t require an employer to accommodate an employee who must care for a disabled family member, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) may require an employer to take such steps. The Department of Labor enforces the FMLA. For more information, call: 1-866-487-9243.

Disability Discrimination & Reasonable Accommodation & Undue Hardship

An employer doesn’t have to provide an accommodation if doing so would cause undue hardship to the employer.

Undue hardship means that the accommodation would be too difficult or too expensive to provide, in light of the employer’s size, financial resources, and the needs of the business. An employer may not refuse to provide an accommodation just because it involves some cost. An employer does not have to provide the exact accommodation the employee or job applicant wants. If more than one accommodation works, the employer may choose which one to provide.

Definition Of Disability

Not everyone with a medical condition is protected by the law. In order to be protected, a person must be qualified for the job and have a disability as defined by the law.

A person can show that he or she has a disability in one of three ways:

  • A person may be disabled if he or she has a physical or mental condition that substantially limits a major life activity (such as walking, talking, seeing, hearing, or learning).
  • A person may be disabled if he or she has a history of a disability (such as cancer that is in remission).
  • A person may be disabled if he is believed to have a physical or mental impairment that is not transitory (lasting or expected to last six months or less) and minor (even if he does not have such an impairment).

Disability & Medical Exams During Employment Application & Interview Stage

The law places strict limits on employers when it comes to asking job applicants to answer medical questions, take a medical exam, or identify a disability.

For example, an employer may not ask a job applicant to answer medical questions or take a medical exam before extending a job offer. An employer also may not ask job applicants if they have a disability (or about the nature of an obvious disability). An employer may ask job applicants whether they can perform the job and how they would perform the job, with or without a reasonable accommodation.

Disability & Medical Exams After A Job Offer For Employment

After a job is offered to an applicant, the law allows an employer to condition the job offer on the applicant answering certain medical questions or successfully passing a medical exam, but only if all new employees in the same type of job have to answer the questions or take the exam.

Disability & Medical Exams For Persons Who Have Started Working As Employees

Once a person is hired and has started work, an employer generally can only ask medical questions or require a medical exam if the employer needs medical documentation to support an employee’s request for an accommodation or if the employer believes that an employee is not able to perform a job successfully or safely because of a medical condition.

The law also requires that employers keep all medical records and information confidential and in separate medical files.

Available Resources

In addition to a variety of formal guidance documents, EEOC has developed a wide range of fact sheets, question & answer documents, and other publications to help employees and employers understand the complex issues surrounding disability discrimination.

(For more information: see the U.S. Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission
 website)

ADA for Businesses

Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires businesses open to the public to ensure that individuals with a disability have equal access to all that the businesses have to offer.  ADA Title III covers a wide range of places of public accommodation, including retail stores and the wide range of service businesses such as hotels, theaters, restaurants, doctors’ and lawyers’ offices, optometrists, dentists, banks, insurance agencies, museums, parks, libraries, day care centers, recreational programs, social service agencies, and private schools.  It covers both profit and non-profit organizations.  Unlike the employment section of the ADA, which only applies to employers with 15 or more employees, ADA Title III applies to all businesses, regardless of size.

Places of public accommodation must give persons with disabilities an equal opportunity to participate in and to benefit from their services.  They cannot provide unequal or separate benefits to persons with disabilities. They must modify their policies and practices when necessary to provide equal access to services and facilities.

In order to provide equal access, all public accommodations are required to provide auxiliary aids and services to ensure effective communication.  28 C.F.R. § 36.303(c).  The ADA also requires removal of structural communication barriers that are in existing facilities, and installation of flashing alarm systems, permanent signage, and adequate sound buffers.  Businesses may not impose a surcharge on a particular individual with a disability to cover the cost of ensuring equal access for that person.  28 C.F.R. § 36.301(c).

Businesses are expected to “consult with the individual with a disability before providing a particular auxiliary aid or service.”  56 Fed. Reg. at 35567.  A comprehensive list of auxiliary aids and services required by the ADA for deaf and hard of hearing people includes, but is not limited to: “[q]ualified interpreters, notetakers, computer-aided transcription services, written materials, telephone handset amplifiers, assistive listening devices, assistive listening systems, telephones compatible with hearing aids, closed caption decoders, open and closed captioning, telecommunication devices for deaf persons, videotext displays, or other effective methods of making aurally delivered materials available to individuals with hearing impairments.”  28 C.F.R. § 36.303(b)(1).

In choosing which auxiliary aid or service to provide, the most important consideration is the type of service that will be necessary to ensure “effective communication” with an individual who is deaf or hard of hearing.  For example, in addition to providing a qualified interpreter, it may be necessary to change seating arrangements or lighting so that there is a clear line of sight to the interpreter, and so that the interpreter is clearly visible.  Businesses may need to instruct employees to accept calls made through a relay service, even though such calls may take longer to complete than other telephone calls.  Policies and practices may have to be altered in order to provide access.  For example, a business that normally would not permit a customer to bring a pet on the premises must give access to a person with a service animal.

A public accommodation may deny an auxiliary aid or service only if it can demonstrate that it would fundamentally alter the nature of the service, or would constitute an undue burden (a significant difficulty or expense).  If the public accommodation is able to demonstrate that there is a fundamental alteration or an undue burden in the provision of a particular auxiliary aid or service it must, however, be prepared to provide an alternative auxiliary aid or service, where one exists.  28 C.F.R. § 36.303(f).

Whether or not a particular auxiliary aid or service constitutes an “undue burden” depends on a variety of factors, including the nature and cost of the auxiliary aid or service and the overall financial and other resources of the business.  The undue burden standard is intended to be applied on a case-by-case basis. Undue burden is not measured by the amount of income the business is receiving from a client, patient or customer.  Instead, undue burden is measured by the overall financial impact on the whole entity.  Therefore, it is possible for a business to be responsible for providing auxiliary aids or services even if it does not make a sale or receive income from a deaf or hard of hearing customer, if the cost would not be an undue burden on its overall operation.   We are not aware of any court decision that has held that providing interpreter services resulted in an undue burden.

The cost of interpreters and other auxiliary aids and services may entitle a business to an income tax credit, as well as the usual business-related expense deduction.  Congress has amended the Internal Revenue Code to provide business tax incentives for removing barriers or increasing accessibility.  The “Tax Deduction to Remove Architectural and Transportation Barriers to People with Disabilities and Elderly Individuals” (Title 26, I.R.C. Section 190) allows a deduction for qualified barrier removal expenses not to exceed $1500 for any taxable year.  The “Disabled Access Tax Credit” (Title 26, I.R.C. Section 44) is available to eligible small businesses.  It provides a tax credit of 50 per cent of eligible access expenditures that exceed $250 but do not exceed $10,250, made for the purpose of complying with the ADA.  Businesses should consult their tax or financial advisors on this issue.

(Some information borrowed from National Association for the Deaf Website)

ADA for Healthcare

ADA Questions and Answers for Health Care Providers

Effective communication between consumers who are deaf or hard of hearing and health care providers is essential to provide safe and effective medical treatment.

Title III of the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) applies to all private health care providers, regardless of the size of the office or the number of employees. It applies to providers of both physical and mental health care. Hospitals, nursing homes, psychiatric and psychological services, offices of private physicians, dentists, health maintenance organizations (HMOs) and health clinics are included among the health care providers covered by the ADA.

Using a qualified sign language interpreter not only helps to ensure that the health care provider is compliant with the ADA, but it allows the deaf or hard of hearing patient to fully participate and make decisions in health care treatment. A qualified interpreter is an interpreter who is able to interpret effectively, accurately, and impartially, both receptively and expressively, using any necessary specialized vocabulary.

Without interpreting services, medical staff run the risk of not understanding the patient’s symptoms, misdiagnosing the patient’s medical problem, and prescribing inadequate or even harmful treatment. Similarly, patients may not understand medical instructions and warnings or prescription guidelines.

A health care facility may be asked to provide a qualified sign language interpreter when the consumer is a deaf or hard of hearing patient, a relative or a partner involved in the patient’s health care. When critical medical information is communicated during routine wellness care, urgent care, preventative care, surgical procedure, or in obtaining an informed consent for treatment, using a sign language interpreter can facilitate communication and keep it smooth, accurate and efficient. Classes, support groups and other activities that are open to the public must also be accessible for deaf participants. The use of an interpreter enables all of the parties involved to ask questions, express concerns, receive accurate and important information, and avoid the frustration that may arise with miscommunication.


FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Which health care providers are covered under the ADA?

A. Title III of the ADA applies to all private health care providers, regardless of the size of the office or the number of employees. 28 C.F.R 36.104 (http://www.ada.gov/reg3a.html#Anchor-36104) It applies to providers of both physical and mental health care. Hospitals, nursing homes, psychiatric and psychological services, offices of private physicians, dentists, and health clinics are included among the health care providers covered by the ADA. If a professional office of a doctor, dentist, or psychologist is located in a private home, the portion of the home used for public purposed (including the entrance) is considered a “place of public accommodation.” 28 C.F.R. 36.207 (http://www.ada.gov/reg3a.html#Anchor-36104

What is the obligation of health care providers under the ADA for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing?

A. Health care providers have a duty to provide auxiliary aids and services that ensure that communication with people who have a hearing loss is as effective as communication with others. C.F.R. 36.306© (http://www.ada.gov/reg3a.html#Anchor-97857)

For whom must a health care provider offer effective communication?

A. A health care provider must ensure that it can communicate effectively with customers, clients, and other individuals with hearing loss who are seeking or receiving its services. 56 Fed. Reg. at 35565. (http://www.nad.org/issues/health-care/providers/questions-and-answers), (http://www.ct.gov/opapd/cwp/view.asp?a=1756&q=443160) Such individuals may not always be “patients” of the health care provider. For example, if pre-natal classes are offered as a service to both fathers and mothers, a father with a hearing loss must be given auxiliary aids or services that offer him the same opportunity to benefit from the classes as would other fathers. Similarly, a deaf parent of a hearing child may require an auxiliary aid or service to give informed consent for the child’s surgery.

Why are auxiliary aids and services so important in the medical setting?

A. Auxiliary aids and services are often needed to provide safe and effective medical treatment. Without these aids and services, medical staff run the grave risk of not understanding the patient’s symptoms, misdiagnosing the patient’s medical problem, and prescribing inadequate or even harmful treatment. Similarly, patients may not understand medical instructions and warnings or prescription guidelines.

Must a health care provider pay for an auxiliary aid or service for a medical appointment if the cost of that aid or service exceeds the provider’s charge for the appointment?

A. In certain situations the cost of providing an auxiliary aid or service (for example, an interpreter) to achieve effective communication in administering a particular medical service may exceed the charge to the patient for that very same service. A health care provider is expected to treat the costs of providing auxiliary aids and services as part of the overhead costs of operating a business. Accordingly, so long as the provision of the auxiliary aid or service does not impose an undue burden on the provider’s business and does not fundamentally alter the provider’s services, the provider may be obligated to pay for the auxiliary aid or service in this situation.

Whether or not a particular auxiliary aid or service constitutes an “undue burden” depends on a variety of factors, including the nature and cost of the auxiliary aid or service and the overall financial and other resources of the business.  The undue burden standard is intended to be applied on a case-by-case basis. Undue burden is not measured by the amount of income the business is receiving from a client, patient or customer.  Instead, undue burden is measured by the overall financial impact on the whole entity.  Therefore, it is possible for a business to be responsible for providing auxiliary aids or services even if it does not make a sale or receive income from a deaf or hard of hearing customer, if the cost would not be an undue burden on its overall operation.   We are not aware of any court decision that has held that providing interpreter services resulted in an undue burden.

Can a health care provider charge a deaf or hard of hearing patient for part or all of the costs of providing an auxiliary aid or service?

A. No. A health care provider cannot charge a patient for the costs of providing auxiliary aids and services, either directly or through the patient’s insurance carrier. 28 C.F.R. 36.301© (http://www.ada.gov/reg3a.html#Anchor-44591)

Do all individuals with hearing loss use the same kind of interpreter?

A. No. There are various kinds of interpreters. The health care provider should ascertain the particular language needs of the deaf or hard of hearing patient before hiring an interpreter. Some individuals may require interpreters who are fluent in American Sign Language, a language that has a grammar and syntax that is different from the English language. Others may require interpreters who use Signed English, a form of signing which uses the same word order as does English. Still others who do not know any sign language may require oral interpreters who take special care to articulate words for individuals with hearing loss.

Can a health care provider require family members and friends to interpret for deaf patients?

A. Generally, no. Family members often do not possess sufficient sign language skills to effectively interpret in a medical setting. Even if they are skilled enough in sign language to communicate with the patient, family members and friends are very often too emotionally or personally involved to interpret “effectively, accurately, and impartially.” Finally, problems with maintaining patient confidentiality can cause problems with using family members and friends as interpreters. 56 Fed. Reg. at 35553.

In what medical situations should a health care provider obtain the services of an interpreter?

A. An interpreter should be present in all situations in which the information exchanged is sufficiently lengthy or complex to require an interpreter for effective communication. Examples may include discussing a patient’s medical history, obtaining informed consent and permission for treatment, explaining diagnoses, treatment, and prognoses of an illness, conducting psychotherapy, communicating prior to and after major medical procedures, providing complex instructions regarding medication, explaining medical costs and insurance, and explaining patient care upon discharge from a medical facility.

Is lipreading an effective form of communicating with deaf and hard of hearing individuals?

A. Not often. Some deaf and hard of hearing individuals do rely on lipreading for communication. For these individuals, an oral interpreter may be the best means of ensuring effective communication in the medical setting. However, the ability of a deaf or hard of hearing individual to speak clearly does not mean that he or she can lipread effectively. Indeed, because lipreading requires some guesswork, very few deaf people rely on lipreading alone for exchanges of important information. Forty to sixty percent of English sounds look alike when spoken. On the average, even the best lipreaders only understand 25% of what is said to them, and many individuals understand far less. Lipreading may be particularly difficult in the medical setting where complex medical terminology is often used.

Do written notes offer an effective means of communicating with deaf and hard of hearing individuals?

A. This will depend on the reading level of the individual. The reading level of some deaf individuals is much lower than that of hearing people. Moreover, written communications are slow and cumbersome in a health care setting. For many deaf individuals, the services of a sign language interpreter offer the only effective method of communication. However, some deaf or hard of hearing individuals who do not use sign language, such as individuals who have lost their hearing later in life, may communicate more effectively in writing with their health care providers.

Must health care providers made conferences, health education, and training sessions that are open to the general public accessible to individuals with hearing loss?

A. Yes. Health care providers that offer training sessions, health education, or conferences to the general public must make these events accessible to deaf and hard of hearing individuals. 28 C.F.R. 36.201 (http://www.ada.gov/reg3a.html#Anchor-3800) and 36.202 (http://www.ada.gov/reg3a.html#Anchor-35326). In addition to interpreters, there are a variety of assistive listening devices that may be appropriate to eliminate problems with distance and background noise for hard of hearing individuals wishing to attend these sessions.

Can health care providers receive any tax credits for the costs of providing auxiliary aids and services?

A. Yes. Businesses, including health care providers, may claim a tax credit. Examples of eligible access expenditures include the necessary and reasonable costs of providing interpreters, and other auxiliary aids; and acquiring or modifying equipment or devices. As amended in 1990, the Internal Revenue Code allows a deduction of up to $15,000 per year for expenses associated with the removal of qualified architectural and transportation barriers. The 1990 amendment also permits eligible small businesses to receive a tax credit for certain costs of compliance with the ADA. An eligible small business is one whose gross receipts do not exceed $1,000,000 or whose workforce does not consist of more than 30 full-time workers. Qualifying businesses may claim a credit of up to 50 percent of eligible access expenditures that exceed $250 but do not exceed $10,250. Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990, P.L. 101-505, 44 (http://www.ssa.gov/OP_Home/comp2/F101-508.html)

ADA for State and Local Government

Deaf and hard of hearing people are entitled to effective communication with state and local government agencies.  Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12131-12134, forbids discrimination by any public entity.  This federal law applies to all types of state and local government agencies, including courts, schools, social service agencies, hospitals, legislatures, commissions and councils, recreational facilities, libraries, and state/county/city departments and agencies of all kinds.  It applies to activities that are administered directly by government agencies, and to activities that are carried out by private subcontractors.

Under the ADA, local and state agencies are required to give equal access and equally effective services to people with disabilities.  28 C.F.R. § 35.130.  They may not deny people an opportunity to participate in their programs, or give them an opportunity that is less effective than the opportunity given to others.  Often, the public entity must provide qualified interpreters, computer-aided transcription (also called CART), assistive listening devices, or other auxiliary aids or services to ensure effective communication with deaf and hard of hearing people.

The U.S. Department of Justice regulations state that the public entity must “take appropriate steps to ensure that communications with applicants, participants, and members of the public with disabilities are as effective as communications with others.”  28 C.F.R. § 35.160(a).  Accordingly, the public entity must “furnish appropriate auxiliary aids and services where necessary to afford an individual with a disability an equal opportunity to participate in, and enjoy the benefits of, a service, program, or activity conducted by a public entity.”  28 C.F.R. § 35.160(b).  The public entity must also give “primary consideration” to the individual’s preference with respect to choosing the type of auxiliary aid or service to provide to ensure effective communication.  28 C.F.R. § 35.160(c).  The agency may not charge the individual for providing auxiliary aids and services.

There are many types of auxiliary aids and services that may be necessary for effective communication. Furthermore, an auxiliary aid or service that is effective for one person might not be effective for another person.  The U.S. Department of Justice regulations define the term “auxiliary aids and services” comprehensively:

[q]ualified interpreters, notetakers, computer-aided transcription services, written materials, telephone handset amplifiers, assistive listening devices, assistive listening systems, telephones compatible with hearing aids, closed caption decoders, open and closed captioning, telecommunication devices for deaf persons, videotext displays, or other effective methods of making aurally delivered materials available to individuals with hearing impairments.

28 C.F.R. § 35.104.

The appropriate auxiliary aid or service depends on many factors, such the type of communication used by the individual and the situation in which communication occurs.  An auxiliary aid or service that is appropriate for one person, or in one context, may be useless in another setting or for a different person.

In addition to providing auxiliary aids and services, public entities must modify their policies and practices when necessary to prevent discrimination.  For example, a facility with a “no pets” requirement must modify that requirement to permit a deaf or hard of hearing person to use a service animal.  Public entities must also modify their policies to make and receive telephone calls made through relay services.

(From National Association for the Deaf Website)

ADA for Transportation

ADA for Telecommunications

Many older deaf and hard of hearing Americans remember relying on their families, friends, or neighbors to make a simple phone call. Today, deaf and hard of hearing people are empowered by having more accessible telephone products and services, including hearing aid compatible phones. In the last 20 years, a wide range of voice, text, and video relay services and technologies have also been developed that enable consumer choice of language and mode of communication to access the telephone network.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 mandated a nationwide system of telecommunications relay services to make the telephone network accessible to people who are deaf or hard of hearing or who have speech impairments. Relay services enable deaf and hard of hearing individuals to communicate in a manner that is as close to “functionally equivalent” as possible to the communications enjoyed by telephone users. Relay services also provide access to 9-1-1 emergency call centers; operate 24/7; are provided free to relay users; and comply with strict confidentiality requirements. Initially available for users of teletypewriters (TTYs), new technologies give consumers choices: voice carry-over; hearing carry-over; captioned telephone service; and Internet-based communication through text relay services (Internet Protocol or IP Relay), video relay services (VRS), and captioned telephone services.


Accessible Telecommunications Equipment and Services

Section 255 of the Communications Act requires telecommunications products and services to be accessible to and usable by people with disabilities if readily achievable; without much difficulty or expense. If manufacturers cannot make their products accessible, then they must design products to be compatible with adaptive equipment, such as peripheral devices and specialized customer premises equipment that are commonly used by people with disabilities, where readily achievable. For example, this requires the ability to use TTYs with telephone equipment.

For more information, please see the FCC Consumer Factsheet for Section 255 at http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/consumerfacts/section255.html. This factsheet provides a description of the products and services covered by Section 255; definitions; how companies should identify and evaluate access needs, and review products and services; related issues; and about filing complaints with the FCC.


Hearing Aid Compatible Telephones

The Hearing Aid Compatibility Act of 1988 (the HAC Act) statute requires all essential telephones and all telephones manufactured in or imported into the United States to be hearing aid compatible. The mandates apply to all wireline and cordless telephones and certain wireless digital telephones. Hearing aid compatible telephones provide inductive and acoustic connections that allow individuals with hearing aids and cochlear implants to communicate by phone. To achieve inductive coupling, the telephone must emit sufficient electromagnetic energy to couple with a telecoil in the hearing aid or the cochlear implant processor. When activated, the telecoil converts the magnetic field into sound and the hearing aid or cochlear implant microphone is simultaneously turned off or reduced to eliminate or decrease any background noise or feedback that can make it difficult to hear speech. Acoustic coupling uses the microphone in the hearing aid or cochlear implant to pick up and amplify sounds from the telephone’s receiver. Under FCC rules, in order to be considered hearing aid compatible, telephones with digital wireless technologies must also minimize electromagnetic interference, which has the effect of creating additional noise that makes it difficult to understand speech.

  • Wireline Telephones

The HAC Act requires that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ensure that all wireline telephones (not wireless, mobile, or cell phones) manufactured or imported for use in the United States after August 1989, and all “essential” telephones, are hearing aid-compatible. “Essential” telephones are defined as “coin-operated telephones, telephones provided for emergency use, and other telephones frequently needed for use by persons using such hearing aids.” “Essential” phones might include workplace phones, phones in confined settings (like hospitals and nursing homes), and phones in hotel and motel rooms. Secure phones, approved by the U.S. Government to transmit classified or sensitive conversations, and phones used with public mobile and private radio services (wireless, mobile, and cell phone) were exempt from the HAC Act.

For more information, please see the FCC Consumer Factsheet for HAC Wireline Telephones at http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/consumerfacts/hac_wireline.html. This factsheet describes what makes a telephone hearing aid compatible; the FCC’s requirements for wireline telephones, including labeling requirements; and about filing complaints with the FCC.

  • Wireless Telephones

The HAC Act generally requires that the FCC ensure that wireline telephones manufactured or imported for use in the United States after August 1989, and all “essential” telephones, are hearing aid-compatible. When Congress passed the Act in 1988, it specifically exempted “telephones used with public mobile services” (wireless telephones) from these requirements. To ensure that the HAC Act kept pace with the evolution of telecommunications, however, Congress granted the FCC a means to revoke or limit the exemption for wireless telephones. On August 14, 2003, the FCC determined that continuation of a complete exemption for wireless telephones would have an adverse effect on individuals with hearing disabilities, and that limiting the exemption was technologically feasible and in the public interest. Based upon these findings, the FCC established rules for the hearing aid compatibility of digital wireless phones.

For more information, please see the FCC Consumer Factsheet for HAC Wireless Telephones at http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/consumerfacts/hac_wireless.html. This factsheet describes what makes a telephone hearing aid compatible; the FCC’s requirements for digital wireless telephones, including labeling and testing requirements; and about filing complaints with the FCC.

(From National Association for the Deaf Website)

 BASIC OVERVIEW

The Americans with Disabilities Act is a civil rights law that protects those with disabilities similar to those protected on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, age, and/or religion.

It guarantees equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities in employment, public accommodations (stores, doctor’s offices, businesses), transportation, state and local government services, and telecommunications.

Title I – Prohibits employers, employment agencies, and labor unions from discriminating against people who are deaf and hard-of-hearing.

Title II – Requires state & local governments to make their programs, services, & activities accessible to people who are deaf and hard-of-hearing.

Title III – Requires businesses open to the public to ensure that people who are deaf and hard-of-hearing have equal access to all services that the business offers.

* Public accommodations such as restaurants, hotels, theaters, doctors’ offices, pharmacies, retail stores, museums, libraries, parks, private schools, and day care centers, may not discriminate on the basis of disability, effective January 26, 1992.

* Individuals may bring private lawsuits to obtain court orders to stop discrimination, but money damages cannot be awarded.

* Individuals can also file complaints with the Attorney General who may file lawsuits to stop discrimination and obtain money damages and penalties.


* State or local governments may not discriminate against qualified individuals with disabilities. All government facilities, services, and communications must be accessible consistent with the requirements of section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

* Individuals may file complaints with Federal agencies to be designated by the Attorney General or bring private lawsuits.