The Americans with Disabilities Act requires all businesses and governments to make their facilities accessible to persons with disabilities. That includes deaf persons. What do hearing impaired persons need to access your facility? Well, they might need an American Sign Language interpreter. If a hearing impaired person requests an ASL interpreter, every business and every government agency is required to provide one. Some 30 years have passed since the ADA was enacted in 1990. Yet, so many folks are not aware of this requirement.

But, now the San Antonio Independent School Distrist understands that requirement. They just settled a case for $150,00, in which they did not provide ASL interpreters on multiple occasions. Cleto Rodriguez is deaf. He requested an ASL interpreter several times for meetings with his son’s teachers. The district never did provide an interpreter. See San Antonio Express News report.

Some folks will tell me, “well, can’t we just write notes back and forth?” The ADA specifies that the hearing impaired person can choose how to communicate, not the service provider. Some deaf persons, especially for key meetings like Parent-Teacher conferences, prefer an actual ASL interpreter. The challenge is that ASL interpreters cost money. They also need to be reserved in advance.

Another challenge is that some hearing impaired persons make a request for an interpreter and then do not show up for his/her appointment. That happened to me once. I paid for an interpreter for a hearing impaired person who did not appear. I learned that you may need to verify with the hearing impaired person will actually show up for the appointment.