The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires effective communication, which means that people with disabilities and their companions completely understand whatever is written or spoken. The ADA also requires that people who do not have disabilities fully understand communication by people with disabilities and their companions. Companions include family members, friends or associates of a person with a disability.
There are a wide range of auxiliary aids and services that promote effective communication. A few examples of auxiliary aids and services for people who are deaf or hard of hearing include assistive listening devices and systems, captioned telephones, computer-aided transcription services (CART), telephones compatible with hearing aids, Video Relay Services (VRS) and Video Remote Interpreting (VRI).
A common auxiliary aid and service for individuals who are deaf is a qualified sign language interpreter. A qualified interpreter effectively, accurately and impartially signs what is being said, and voices what is being signed. A qualified interpreter also uses specialized vocabulary (i.e.: legal, medical) and the sign language system (i.e.: American Sign Language, Pidgin Sign English, Signing Exact English) used by the person who requires a qualified interpreter.
The following tips might be helpful to those with limited knowledge of how to effectively utilize a qualified on-site sign language interpreter:
Video remote interpreting (VRI) services must provide:
Over the past four decades, Disability Educator and Sign Language Instructor Cindy Powell has advised businesses, employers, government agencies and nonprofits about best practices with people with disabilities.
Cindy provides customized training on the American with Disabilities Act (ADA), tax incentives and other helpful topics, such as disability etiquette and service animals. Ms. Powell also provides customized sign language training.
Cindy has served on local, state and national disability organization Boards of Directors. Ms. Powell was recipient of International Association of Workforce Professionals' 2006 Services to Specialized Populations award. Cindy’s disability articles appear in print and online.
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