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The Americans with Disabilities Act

Recently, a landmark law known as The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) celebrated the 25th anniversary of its passage.

The ADA was truly a bi-partisan bill that was drafted and introduced by Iowa Senator Tom Harkin (D) then signed into law by President George H.W. Bush (R).

The ADA provides that, “No individual shall be discriminated against on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of any place of public accommodation.”

It would not be an overstatement to say that the ADA has been life changing for those in the Deaf community as Deaf people now have equal access to the same services and programs available to others who do not have a hearing loss.

Prior to the ADA, the few laws intended to benefit the Deaf community were limited in scope and required equal communication access for the Deaf community only for entities receiving federal funding.

This included hospitals that accepted Medicare and colleges that received federally funded grants but it didn’t include places such as H & R Block, Wal-Mart, UPS, Macy’s and virtually all private medical practices and/or employers.

Imagine going to your doctor’s appointment and trying to communicate your symptoms when you don’t speak the language! The ADA brought all of these neglected places into the fold so that essentially everywhere you go, you have the right to be served regardless of your communication needs.

Additionally, the ADA also brought about access through telecommunications.

Prior to 1990, telephone companies were allowed to exclude the Deaf community but today, as a result of the ADA, things have changed.

There are now systems in place across the country that provide text and sign language operator centers and serve as a facilitator to telephone communications between Deaf people and their hearing counterparts. In other words, as a result of the ADA, telephone communication has been redefined.

We’ve truly come a long way from the time when Deaf people were forced to use their friends or family members to serve as the communication link!

Not only that, but passage of the ADA also made it easier for organizations to be compliant by offering a tax credit intended to offset the costs of providing accessibility.

To that end, if you’re an organization looking to become compliant with the guidelines set forth by the ADA, contact us today and learn more about how we can help you. We offer a full range of communication access services including sign language interpreting, captioning, video remote sign language interpreting and remote captioning and we would love to work with you!