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Communication rights for people with disabilities

Your communication rights

If you have a hearing, vision, or speech disability, you have the right to get information in a way you can understand from:

  • Service providers
  • Businesses
  • Landlords or housing providers
  • Government agencies
  • Your employer

When you visit or contact an organization, you should be able to:

  • Get information
  • Give information
  • Communicate

Services you can receive

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), you can ask for auxiliary aids and services to help you communicate. Auxiliary aids and services are different ways to communicate. Friends or family members with you for support can also ask for auxiliary aids and services if they have a disability and they need to know the information being shared.

Learn more about who the ADA protects and what a disability is (according to the ADA).

Common examples of auxiliary aids and services

  • Qualified interpreters
  • Captioning
  • Transcription services
  • Magnification software
  • Large print materials
  • Audio recordings

More examples of auxiliary aids and services.

Making the request

You should ask for the business or organization to communicate in the way you will understand it best. Asking ahead of time when possible gives the business more time to meet your needs.

What the business or organization should provide

What the business or organization has to provide depends on how long and complicated the information is.

For example, if it is a short, simple conversation, passing written notes may be okay. If it is a conversation with a doctor about your health, the business or medical provider may need to have a qualified interpreter there.

Difference between private businesses and government organizations

A private business or nonprofit organization gets to decide what type of communication to provide, as long it is equally effective as what you ask for.

A local or state government organization has to provide the method of communication you ask for, unless it is too difficult of expensive.

Friends or family as interpreters

No business or organization should ask a friend or family member to act as your interpreter, unless:

  • It is an emergency situation, or
  • It is your wish for them to do so and
    1. Your friend or family member is okay with it
    2. It make sense in the situation

Who pays for auxiliary aids and services

You do not have to pay for the auxiliary aid or service the business or organization provides. The business or organization is responsible to pay. They can decide to offer to communicate in a way that is less difficult or expensive, as long as it is equally effective.

If the organization does not provide effective communication

If the organization will not communicate with you in a way that you can understand, you can:

Ask us

If you have questions about the ADA, we can help.

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