Ask Howard Anything / May 2017

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Can you ask for an interpreter for a conference? What about the doctor’s office? The answer is effective communication must be provided. When you find yourself in that situation, we have different advocacy letters available for you to use and show to the person responsible. Explore www.nad.org/advocacy-letters. #AskHoward

VIDEO DESC & TRANSCRIPT: Howard A. Rosenblum is sitting at his desk. The NAD logo appears on bottom right corner as a watermark.

HOWARD: Hi, for this month’s AHA video, I’d like to address that the NAD office has received many people’s inquiries through email, phone, and online regarding their right to an interpreter in different situations. We’ve received questions asking about whether interpreters are required at the doctor’s office, a conference, theater, and other places. Some have asked what if those places claim that their budget is too small to pay for an interpreter. It does not matter how small their office is, the law clearly states that deaf people have a right to effective communication. Different places are required to provide effective communication under different laws including the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The Rehabilitation Act puts responsibility on those who receive federal funding while the ADA requires responsibility from others depending on the part of the ADA that applies. If they are an employer, then ADA Title I defines their responsibility. If they are a state or local government entity, then ADA Title II defines their responsibility. If they are a private business, even if they are a non-profit, no matter what size they are, no matter their budget, ADA Title III defines their responsibility. All these different groups have different responsibilities under different laws but are all required to provide effective communication. Effective communication does not always mean ASL interpreters. However, because many situations require complex discussions, qualified ASL interpreters are often needed. For example, the doctor’s office usually means a serious and complex conversation between the doctor and the patient about the patient’s medical issue, which makes using a pen and paper ineffective in most cases. In such a situation, a qualified ASL interpreter is best. Another situation could be a conference, at which communication is complicated due to the complexity of workshops, the need to participate, and the need to engage in networking with other attendees, requires qualified ASL interpreters. Another situation could be at a theater, and some productions provide captioning however this may not be effective for some deaf and hard of hearing people. Captioning does not always include the tone or other important information that a qualified ASL interpreter could provide. Another situation could be when a deaf person is arrested by the police. We often get asked if the deaf and hard of hearing person has a right to an interpreter during a police arrest, the answer is often yes. If the police must communicate with the deaf person arrested and that person uses ASL, then effective communication means a qualified ASL interpreter must be provided. So what can you do when you find yourself in a situation where you are denied access? You can contact the NAD and we will try our best to get back to you in a timely manner with the many inquiries we receive a day. However, you can advocate for yourself using advocacy letters that is available on the website. We have a letter for specific situations. So if you have an issue about a conference, there is a conference request letter to use. If you have an issue with a doctor’s office, there is a medical request letter to use. We have a letter for you to use if there’s a situation with a theater company. You can explore the page and see what other letters are available for you to download and show it the person responsible. You can use the letter to explain your rights and that they should follow the law. If they still refuse to provide access, contact us to let us know after you showed them the letter. We can follow up with more legal efforts. Use these letters to assist with your advocacy before you contact the NAD. Thank you for watching.

Video fades to a soft white background with several different font types showing “NAD” very quickly. Copyright video ends with the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) logo centered. Blue text below the logo appears, “A production of the National Association of the Deaf (copyright) 2017 All Rights Reserved”.

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