Americans with Disabilities Act
Americans with Disabilities Act Q&A with Ed Zwilling and Adjacent Space
May 4, 2022
Do you have to open a special box to see it?
You have to click on live transcript. Sounds good.
I see full transcript.
Yes, if you click on the first one, "show subtitle," it should show up at the bottom.
Does this mean the captioners actually typing this stuff?
Yes, we hire captioners every time.
Yeah, there has been a few times where it is either not worked at all with zoom, and is supposed to be
80% effective. Which, when you think about effectiveness, 80% is still not enough (Laughs).
Let's start in about a minute if everyone is good with that.
Angelica, if you could let people know that there are resources popping up in the chat, they will be
actively looking for them.
Perfect, sounds good. Alright, OK. Well, let's go ahead and get started if we want to start the recording
I just want to make sure that everyone is able to view the captions. I am going to put a message out on
chat too. If anyone needs to view the captions go to live transcript on the end, that the bottom. I just
want to make sure everyone can see it.
Thank you Anna, she says, "I can see captions." We will go ahead and start. I just want to make sure
people are able to view the accommodations they need. So, we will go ahead and get started.
Thank you for everybody who is attending tonight, thank you Ed who is joining us tonight. My name is
Angelica Dill, I'm one of the cofounders of adjacent space. Trey Gordon is also a cofounder of adjacent
space who is with us tonight. We have kind of tagteam to each session, and we are now together
finally here together doing the session tonight, this is three out of four sessions that we have been
We have broke down ADA into four different parts. There is five titles, but we decided to focus in on a
few topics that seemed like it was something that should be addressed, specific to our community.
Tonight is about public accommodations, title III.
So, Better Business: Public accommodation and accessibility in businesses and the rights of
customers. We are all customers of something, right? We all receive services, we are consumers of a
lot of things, out in society doing things. So, public accommodation kind of covers a wide gambit of
areas, and it has a lot of nuances as I have discovered -- not only as an interpreter, but as an
advocate, Ally, as I navigate that role, it is a little bit challenging for me to sometimes figure out the
nuances in the current areas of that.
But, just to briefly talk about adjacent space for a moment, we are a nonprofit based out of Birmingham
Alabama, our mission is to seek accessibility and availability for various forms of action. Sometimes
we are retroactively advocating, or responding to things that happen in the community.
We have done a lot of different projects in the community, one year it was seeking out clear masks
and passing it out to our community when there was a mask crisis. Another time we had been noticing
a trend with funeral homes, and a lack of accessibility there. So, we started writing up a letter that is
now up on our website, that we decided to also send out to all of the funeral homes in Alabama. So,
there are a few things we have done when we have noticed some trends.
We also have tried to create our own kind of change. We have hired deaf interpreters to interpret our
website. You want to be a model of accessibility as possible. So, you will see that it is not just
interpreted information, but also side-by-side English, and ASL. We do that also on our social media
So, a lot of cool things that we have done with our funding. We appreciate all of our grant support and
the personal donations from our community. It is really made a difference, and we have tried to make
an impact in all of the ways we can. So, tonight is one of those proactive action things where we are
using education to talk about what the ADA says, and try to create empowerment, or just start some
conversation around it and discover some things together.
So, at the bottom you'll see a place to chat. Please feel free to add comments along the way, if you
have a question at any time in the middle of all of this you are welcome to ask it on video. We can
toggle some things, and change it so you can be on video with us and we will have a interpreter ready.
It doesn't matter if you are a hearing person, or deaf, whatever communication you use we have an
interpreter ready for that as well tonight. So, we want everyone to either feel comfortable asking
something in the Q&A portion, you can write comments in the chat, or asked to join the call for a
moment to ask your question.
So again, please do that at any time. First, before we introduce each other, I wanted to ask who
everybody is in the audience. If you don't mind in the chat, putting may be where you are from you or a
hearing interpreter, deaf or interpret her, deaf communicator, if you own a business. Any information or
us to get a pulse of who is out there.
Panelists, audience members, however. (Laughs)
Tray, if you want to go ahead and introduce yourself, and then add entry will take us off with some
Yes, thank you for that wonderful introduction of our organization. Thank you so much. I am trey, I am
deaf, born and raised in a deaf family. I grew up in Alabama, graduated from the Alabama school for
the deaf, a state school here, and then went off to Gallaudet University which is the only deaf and deaf
or hard of hearing University which is accessible all and sign my bridge. I graduated there, moved over
to India and worked there for a day while in a program, came back to Alabama, and then grad school
at the University of Alabama in Birmingham, getting my Masters degree.
So, I have been working as a cofounder for this -- copywriter and cofounder for this company for some
time now. We will handed over to Ed now.
Thanks Trey, I had not heard before that you had been in India. That is really cool. So, I am an
attorney here in Birmingham Alabama. This is my 30th year in practising law, passed 20 of which I
have primarily focused on represented people with disabilities, helping them with civil rights.
I've represented people with all hosts of disabilities, hearing impairments in particular in the past. I
have some experience with auxiliary agency services for the deaf and hard of hearing, as well as the
blind. With all that said I look forward to answering your questions, and hope this can be an interactive
webinar. So, by all means if you have a question please ask.
Absolutely, yes, thank you Ed. So, we are going to focus on title III, and that is with regards to public
accommodation. Maybe people with deaf and hard of hearing needs, if you have a request for public
accommodation or a small business, how can people figure out what to do with public
accommodations and help with committee members. Maybe we know somebody who has had that
taken away or can't access something, how could we -- how can we help in the situations? You have
come to the right place.
As a deaf individual I am asking for public accommodation for an event that is happening, and I'm
unable, as a burden or financial reasons, I am torn, because I want to know what that announcement
is come I want to know what is going on, and I just want to know what is a way or different strategy
that we can approach these businesses.
So we will be asking at those questions. So, if you have those questions about your community, you've
come to the right place, but as audience members feel free to ask any question. We have adhere to
answer. He is an ADA expert, and if he is not sure of the answer he can find out and will be able to
answer you later.
After the webinar, if you have any questions feel free to shoot us an email and he can answer that
ways well. So, we will start off with a few questions we have ready, and as audience members if you
want to clarify something or have a general question, please feel free to put it in the chat and I can ask
your question for you, or if you would rather come on screen and sign or speak English, or whichever,
feel free to do that as well. OK?
And also, I will at the end close out with some resources on some of the things that trey was
mentioning, email addresses and things like that as well. We'll make sure to get that information out
with a post information, follow-up email and the chat tonight.
Yes, thank you.
OK, so first question we have for you, Under title three of the ADA it says that Public Accommodations
are considered to be businesses including private entities that are open to the public or that provide
goods or services to the public. Tell us more about these businesses and what they look like. Each title
has nuances – but public accommodations (title 3) appears to be the most broad and applicable in so
many situations. Everyone is a consumer/customer/patient in our community. What does not fall under
this law that you think is a common misconception?
Most people are aware of this one, do you have any thoughts on that?
It's not as quite as clear as you think it is. The ADA has a very broad, and expansive view on a public
accommodation, and the regulations define it by giving a whole host of examples, and has really tried
to make it expansive. It is easier to define a public accommodation by telling you what it is not.
So, I will do that, but before I answer that it just brought to mind a recent situation. You know, I have
told you I was practising law for 30 years, and for the past 20 I primarily in helping folks with
disabilities. So, my understanding of the way civil rights laws have evolved kinda come through the
lens of the ADA, and disability discrimination.
I had someone call me who happen to be African-American and she was denied service at the hair
salon is account of race. She described to me as a white hair salon, and it never really dawned on me
that there were white and black hair salons, but apparently that is a thing. My knee-jerk reaction is, that
is a public accommodation and I can't believe they would be able to discriminate on the basis of race.
That has got to be a civil rights violation. And a hair salon is specifically called out under the ADA, as a
If you look at the civil rights act that was passed in the 1960s, a public accommodation is very, very
narrowly defined as a restaurant, place where you go to see a show, a place where you go to exercise.
That is pretty much it. There is very few, I don't have it in front of me but it was three or four things. So,
the vast majority of what I think of as a public accommodation for ADA purposes, apparently you can
still discriminate on the basis of race, which was news to me.
In any event, what is not a public accommodation, as far as the ADA is concerned, those are called
commercial facilities. You will see that term used. Now, can a public accommodation be a commercial
facility? Yes, almost all of them are, but there are commercial facilities that are not public
accommodations. Generally those of the type of places where you would not expect the public to want
For example, we all order things from Amazon and they are dropship to the house, but where are they
dropship from? Some big warehouse where people are picking orders, unloading and loading trucks,
and basically having goods come and go.
Well, that is a example of a commercial facility. We all get calls multiple times every day about our
warranty getting expired. At least I do, maybe you are not on the call list, but I'm causally getting calls
about the call warranty. So, where is that call coming from? It is probably coming from a call centre
where people are going to work to make phone calls, but a member of the public is likely not to go
You might have an office of insurance, not insurance salesman, but people determining what the terms
of policy should be and what the premiums should be. Those types of folks are not generally
considered to be working in a public accommodation.
So, I hope that answers the question. If it is not a place for you to go to hire somebody, or buy
something, it is probably not a public accommodation. Practically everywhere else you go to do those
Can I interject and ask a question, very specifically about what you're saying right now?
OK, yes he would not go to Amazon, it is a commercial facility but then it would fall under another title.
So, you would just say that it doesn't fall under public accommodation?
No, it does. Let's talk about that. A public facility does fall under title three, but a commercial facility
has a different barrier removal responsibility than a public accommodation does. So, for example if you
work at the commercial facility, or the public accommodation, let's say for example you work at
Walmart. Walmart is a public accommodation and if a shopper with a disability went there, it would fall
under title III of the ADA.
It would fall under title I of the ADA. A commercial facility falls under title III, but the whole section on
readily at achievable barrier removal, that is an existing facility that is been operating for a long time
before was passed and has all these architectural barriers and were not removed. If this was a public
accommodation they would have the obligation to make modifications to remove those barriers.
Put an accessible parking, wider ramps, make the washroom accessible, if it is a commercial facility it
doesn't have that obligation, only if it is newly constructed. I hope that answers the question, but pretty
much anyplace you go, your doctor's office, Countess office, your insurance salesman office, office is
generally covered. Stores, restaurants, bars, gymnasiums, arenas, stadiums, music halls,
barbershops, any place you would frequent. A spa where you get your mani pedi done, all of this is
Speaking in that vein, there is a lot of different places that fall under title III, absolutely. So, are there
some businesses that cannot provide accommodations?
If so, who are they, where they don't have to provide those public accommodations?
To answer your question, I was going to just say no, but there are two distinct exceptions to the ADA.
One is at the religious organization, OK. So, a church does not have to comply with the ADA. The
church does not qualify, it's exempt.
Whether or not it is a public accommodation, I don't think it is, but if it was it is not covered. So, if a
church is operating a public accommodation out of the church, it is also not covered. So, for example if
the church owns a daycare and you want to drop your kids off to the first Methodist daycare centre,
operated by the church, it is not covered by the ADA.
Similarly, private clubs. So, it truly has to be a private club. There is a lot of things we think of as a club
that anyone can join, and there is no membership criteria. Everyone can go to the Y and pay whatever
for a guest, or join a Y.
So it is not a private club, exempt from the ADA. But if there was a private club that was selective, not
covered by the ADA. So, a lot of country clubs don't apply. Apart from those two exceptions, everyone
is covered, and it is important to know that it is possible for people to fall under that exception but still
have the same responsibility by a another legal avenue, and that is the rehabilitation act. Section 504
of the rehabilitation act will require that a recipient of federal funds, not discriminate in programs that
are benefited by that federal funding.
So, for example if you went to say a Baptist medical Centre, that is a hospital, it is owned by a religious
organization, is not covered by the ADA. But, if they accept Medicare benefits then you get the same
accommodations, glittery services, via different legal means.
Basically, it would be equivalent to what you would get under title II of the ADA, which is pretty
identical to the rehabilitation act. Good question.
So, any religious organization, you speak of that, and any private clubs. Those you name, unless they
are receiving any type of federal funds, then they are not responsible for providing public
accommodations. Maybe you're heading to a church, or a synagogue, or temple of some sort, and
there is nothing there, we do have to keep in mind that they are not responsible for providing that.
If I were to go to, let's say a dentist. Any dentist office and I asked, "I need a interpreter because I'm a
deaf patient." And they say no, can they say no?
Sometimes they say they don't have the ability to provide public accommodations. Can businesses
turn down that request for those public accommodations?
Well, yes they can, but there are consequences. (Laughs).
There may be consequences, let's put it that way. It depends on the person with the disability. Let me
back up and say this, there are no ADA police, right? If we see somebody speeding down the highway
in their car, we can get their license number and call the police and say, "Hey, there somebody I think
that is intoxicated or driving really recklessly." The police may investigate and see that an arrest that
person because they violate the law. The ADA is a civil-rights loss of the police do not enforce it. There
is no one going around and enforcing the law.
Actually they charge people with disabilities to enforce their law. For example, if they are being denied
an interpreter in the dentist office, such that they cannot communicate that they need a root canal and
are forced by someone else, the person who witness that cannot do anything about it, because that
person does not have a disability and has no power to enforce the ADA. But, the person with a
disability who was denied absolutely does, and there are different methods by which you can do that.
I think of it as three options. The first option is self advocacy, and I hate to say it but if you are a person
with a disability or have a child with a disability, you are kind of always having to be educating the
public about what should happen.
What you are entitled to, how your children should be treated, what happen. So, if you're a
nonconfrontational person I imagine it would be a very difficult position to be in. I know I would hate to
be in that position, I am a lawyer and I am a pretty nonconfrontational person, believe it or not.
But that is what you can do, educate others and act on behalf of yourself. The first step of doing that is
understanding what your rights are. So yes, the answer is the CFR question, I think someone sent it,
there is a code to the federal regulations that I have here.
It is 28 CFR 36.03, and if you click on that link. Where did my zoom go? Do you still see me?
Yes, we can see you.
I cannot see you guys.
(Laughs) That's weird, I only see the caption box. I will figure out how to get it back in a sec.
In the meantime I will send out that link again.
it's like it is there, but no longer visible. Here it is, I got it back. Sorry for that, so long story short,
there's a lot of materials that you can download from the homepage and get a resource. It is easy
If you go there you can find all types of stuff, and there's probably a small handout pamphlet that you
can download about your right to effective fumigation's, or a guide for small businesses to provide
effective communications. There is the title III effective communication manual with examples of what
types of effective communication options a business would be required to provide.
Ironically, not in ASL.
Well, there you go. There is one question that trey had sent that I'm really itching for him to ask, has
not come up yet.
We will get to it when it is asked, but that is the first step. If you do not ask, you will not get it. So, I
have had clients that go to a certain medical Centre for treatment, and they just expect, as a matter of
course that an ASL interpreter is going to be for them there when they show up for their appointment
at because it has been in the past and they are in for a rude awakening when they go summer else
and it is not there.
So, asking is very important, and you have to ask yourself this is an attorney. Do you want to go be
treated by a dentist who will not hire an interpreter? Or, if you decide that you're going to take some
steps to enforce the law, are you going to want to see that dentist after you sue? (Laughs)
Do you want that guy poking around in your mouth after you do a lawsuit and he is educated by the
lawyer that he should have provided an interpreter. At the very least, engage in the interactive process
with the patient who is requesting an interpreter to engage whether there is another way to engage in
effective munication. That is the key, the interactive process.
If someone is dismissive and just says no, you do not get anything or that is too expensive and that is
the end of the discussion, I think the ADA has clearly been violated. So, yes, you can self advocate.
You're probably not going to find anyone there on premises if you are dealing -- I guess in the example
where you deal with the dentist itself, you do have the ear of the person you need. Generally I tell
people to be businesslike when dealing with the business.
So, find out who the owner is, you can write letters, provide the materials that you can find on the
ADA.GOP, you can give them a deadline by which to change their policy or create a policy because
chances are they don't even have one. They don't understand what the law requires because you may
be the first person that has ever asked. So, barring that if you don't get anywhere that way in that step,
the second option would be to file an administrative complaint. There are different administrative
agencies that oversee the ADA in different settings.
Generally it is in the Department of Justice, and in that ADA.gov page there is a link for you to file a
complaint. So, that is one way. If it happened at a university you can file it at the office of civil rights of
education. That's another example.
So, the third is you can file a lawsuit and the thing to know about that, and I've had several cases
where public accommodation has just refused to provide effective communications, and generally I
don't charge my clients for that. The ADA provides for prevailing party attorneys muscle if you win your
case your lawyer gets paid by the person that discriminate against you. It should not have to come out
of pocket to enforce your civil rights.
I have had some pretty decent success. There are certain situations where you can recover damages
for that, although there is a recent Supreme Court case that is come out and pulled the rug out from us
on those issues, so I'm not so sure how easy it will be going forward, beside special circumstances. If
any has questions about that we can get into it. But those are the three options, self advocate, file an
administrative complaint, file a private lawsuit.
Adding one thing to that response. If anyone needs to ask for a public accommodation, please make
sure to put that in writing, because having that in writing is proof and documented that you did the
legwork in making that request for the accommodation, the discussion that was had was saved, and
you have proof. There is proof that the law is broken.
Maybe they didn't agree to it, or did not but having that in writing that they refused to provide his proof
and can support your case to make sure that you have that in writing, is highly important and that will
Excellent point Trey.
I want to open it up for the audience if anyone has questions at this point or want to share thoughts
about will be of talked about.
Yeah, in the chat. You're welcome to come into video, don't be intimidated you are welcome to share
something, maybe not a formula to question, but something that you are curious about, please feel
At any time, yes, put that in the chat, whether it be now or anytime after the workshop, but there is one
situation that angelica has experience and we wanted to hand that over for her to explain. Go ahead.
Yes, so in my own work I have worked in the last 10 or so years in the medical setting, and in public
accommodation across the board, like we have been talking about before the hour started, there is so
many grey areas to public accommodation, so many nuances that come up, and it is just so case-bycase,
depending on how big the businesses, depending on what services are provided, the severity of
the situation, etc. etc.
But, I as an interpreter witness quite a bit of things along the way, and especially in the hospital
system. There was one hospital system where they had determined that staff, and I've seen this often
in other medical settings, were deciding when a patient needed an interpreter.
So, their self-assessment, may be a nurse, or a nurse manager, or whoever it might be, would come in
when an inpatient was admitted and they did in assessment, I don't know what that included. They
said that was their policy, and they did an assessment of whether this person used American sign
language, needed an interpreter, and whether it should be on site or VRI, and with those parameters,
in the way they explained it to me, often times we as interpreters will hear in the community that this
person got admitted to the hospital.
The interpreter community is pretty small so a lot of us tend to know whether or not we are going to
medical settings or not, inpatient situations especially you need to have a team of interpreters going in
So, we will ask the hospital, "Hey, we heard that this person is admitted, we just want to make sure
that they have effective communication during their stay." That is when we get pushback, and they tell
us that this is their policy and they have addressed whether or not an interpreter is needed.
There has been multiple occasions where there's been a fact that a deaf individual is not receiving
effective communication and their first and preferred language is American sign language, and may be
they are getting may be onset VRI.
So I'm curious on your take on something like that where there is a procedural approach of something
of that nature, and what type of things?
That was the question I was looking forward to. Yeah, I'm glad you asked. OK, so I can go through and
redact this so you can share it. And to be totally candid, I would like to get the feedback from all of you,
and from the people that are attending or interested in the topic as to whether may be my proposed
policy isn't all that (Laughs) May be a can be better.
So, I have a policy that I've used in the last couple effective communication cases that I've had that as
a condition of the settlement, in addition to compensating the client for the emotional anguish caused
by not knowing what the doctors were telling her, or him, that they also adopt this policy, and train all
of their employees in it.
Invariably, what happens is when I filed a case like this I'm told, "We have a policy." And I say, "Great,
Senate to me so I can see it and see if it needs to be tweaked." They will ask if they can give me a
policy. And I'm always like, "Great! Let's do that." Let me see if I can do this without losing the window.
I think I did it, let me try to go back. So, this is exhibit a, and I try to address what your concern is at the
very beginning of this. Would you mind if I just read this policy to?
Sure, go ahead.
OK, so we will say hospital. I can't say who the hospital was in this case. Hospital recognizes that they
have a duty to provide auxiliary aids and services when necessary to assure that communication
between people of deaf and hard and hearing is as effective as can mitigation with others.
Then I cite that CF article section that we already provided a link to. Hospital also recognizes that
auxiliary agent services are often needed to provide safe and effective medical treatment, without
auxiliary aids and services, medical staff has risk of not understanding symptoms. Misdiagnosing
medical problem, and providing inadequate treatment. Similarly, patients may not understand medical
instructions, warnings, or prescription guidelines.
Nothing in this policy should pose an undue burden to the hospital in the vast majority of patient
medications. And should hospital believe that undue burden may create alteration require alteration in
an unusual situation. The hospital will committee with the deaf or hard hearing person will make sure
that medications are provided with reference this policy, to the greatest extent possible.
This policy recognizes that the individual was deaf or hard of hearing likely has experience with
auxiliary aids and services to know which will achieve effective communication with his or her
healthcare provider, and this policy requires the hospital to consult with the person who is deaf or hard
of hearing, and to carefully consider his or her self-assessed communication needs, before acquiring a
particular auxiliary aid or service.
I will stop reading, but the particular key is not just to find out what they want, but give it some weight,
because that is the person who is in the best position to understand how they can best express
themselves, and understand what is being communicated.
But, how are they being asked? That is my main concern.
That is when we get to the real meat of your question, is even if your policy is to do that, how can you
do that if you are not providing any auxiliary aid or service? In my quick answer to that question is that
you cannot. If they are not providing some auxiliary aid or service, it would make no sense to provide
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ASL interpreter to a person who doesn't understand ASL. So, it is not a one-size-fits-all answer.
Right, what is the step then if a person doesn't know anything about the deaf community or ASL. How
are they supposed to know that that is ASL, but that seems like not. (Laughs) That is my issue with it,
it is that they are not qualified even identify someone who may even says, "Oh, I know ASL, but who
knows what that means. But I can figure spelled the alphabet."
It can mean a lot of different things, but that is what we refer to people who know the language and our
professionals that can come in neutrally and come and decide what is happening, and that can be the
assessment. You know, otherwise the policy is cancelled out if in the beginning you can't even do that
assessment to ensure them policy.
You have to be able to communicate with the person on some level to be able to find out what their
reference is, but here's the key with a lot of folks who prefer ASL interpreters don't fully understand,
and that is this. If it's possible to communicate effectively with someone who prefers an ASL interpreter
but fluent in English, written or spoken, whatever, then the public accommodation may be in their
rights to not provide the ASL interpreter. That is when you get into the big splitting hair, grey area of
how is anyone supposed in no how much the person's understanding, swapping notes if English is at
best a second language for that person?
And so, I have no doubt that if we were swapping notes with trade that he would be fine with it, but she
is probably less comfortable with it, then sign language. I don't want to speak for trade, but that would
be my expectation.
That is with the person with the disability request, how they self assess themselves as what they can
and can't do. Very frequently, I've spoken with folks who have had issues in the medical setting. They
may be OK until they get to some medical terminology that is used, or like you say, 80% may be fine
for going to the drive-through window, but it is not great when you are dealing with a cardiologist.
Yeah, and with an inpatient. It only to continue to much longer on this question, but inpatient in
particular, hearing people -- I will speak on hearing people because I know hearing people.
Hearing people do not notice anything until all of a sudden hearing something is not right. So, if I go to
a concert and the sound is not right, I can't hear the person who is the musician, or what you went
therefore, I went to the movies and the sound was distorted, they are up in arms. "Give me my money
On top of that, we do not notice on a regular basis how often we are speaking and making comments
and doing this and that. When you are in inpatient situation were having nurses come in constantly,
you're having a medical assistant help with checking blood pressure, or whatever. That information
would be related to a hearing patient, so why wouldn't it relate to a deaf individual? Further on that? If
medical assistants, nurses, so on and so forth knew that they needed to make sure another way
visually to make sure that the patient knows what is happening, "I took your blood pressure and here it
That would be another story. But at the end of the day hearing people don't often realize what they are
talking, what they're doing and what is being conveyed through communication. Again, through an
inpatient situation very similar to that there is communication from start to finish.
There is always something happening at some point, so very specifically, inpatient. That is why I am
asking that question. That is why I don't think any hearing person that is fluent in ASL has the
perspective or expertise to really be able to assess the situation.
You would recommend that the policy I wrote would actually require the person who is doing the
assessment actually be an ASL interpreter.
Yeah, or a parallel professional of the like. Maybe it is someone who is proficient in ASL, but has some
expertise that they are able to find and locate and do the assessments and that is what they do.
From city to city I'm sure will be different, but yeah, in ASL interpreter would suffice. At minimum you
would have the communication happening, and the hearing nurse or staff should know. I don't know if
Trey saw this, but someone in the audience said it should be at minimum an assessment.
That can be a very minimum type as well.
I would be surprised if they do not use VRI, because most have that especially when they do that
work. They didn't even have that. Now, it is kind of a double edge sword now that they have that. It is
not always effective.
Or, staff doesn't know how to use it or that they should and even when you are an interpreter standing
there. You at least have the initiation I would say, to assess the environment, or the dynamics of what
is going on in that environment, and to prompt, professionally prompt other medical professionals that
you're working with as coworkers to say, "Hey, this is what I do, and this is what I will lead you into
because this is not your area. I am not a nurse, you are not interpreter."
That kind of thing where I lead us along the way, were AVR machine would not do that, but if people
around knew that we need to do this, and make sure the picture is clear, let's start the assessment. "I
notice the interpreter is blurry, this is not working with get another interpreter." But unfortunately
medical staff and nursing staff do not know the nuances of that. So that is where it falls short as well.
Absolutely. I know someone who is taken into the hospital, on a stretcher. When into a hospital,
wheeled in the VRI, there were issues with the screen that it was on a pole and the person is laying on
their back looking up. It was very difficult to follow and see the VRI screen, plus they were on different
medicines and drugs that made them busy, so it was very fickle for them to see, and it was not
accessible with where their eyes were.
Luckily I was already there to support with that, but if I was and what would we do in that situation? As
Angelica is saying, we see in a lot of situation that this does happen. Maybe they would go in and may
be demand that you want a live interpreter to come into the room.
Typically, hospitals will say that the VRI is a reasonable accommodation in the should do and you put
up a argument that you want a live interpreter and they still insist that the VRI is sufficient. So, I guess
what can we do? Legally, is that a reasonable accommodation, or do I still have a opportunity to
continue to fight for a live interpreter? What should I do in that situation?
That's a great question trey, and if you do not feel the communication is effective. If you don't feel like
you are being understood, and if you don't understand, or feel that you are not understanding
everything that is coming at you at the VRI machine, then it is not effective.
If they are not providing effective communications, they are not complying with the ADA. So, the
problem that you have being in that situation as a deaf person, being given a VRI accommodation and
being dissatisfied with it is proving that it is not effective.
So, I had the situation with a client, and the expert that I had hired made the recommendation to me in
the client during a conference that when you are there, and getting the VRI machine out and trying to
figure out how to work it, and having problems, that is when you should take out your phone and start
Document the fact, take a video. Document the fact that the screen was blurry, or that from where you
were on the bed, you could not see the screen, or whatever. It was not working and there was some
glitch. All of the times these machines do not work. The last case I had the VRI machine stayed out in
the hallway the whole time because they couldn't get it to work. Whether it's a malfunction of the
machine or the nurses don't know how to operate it, he never knew, he just knew that it didn't work.
In that case, the hospital didn't dispute the fact, and they apologized, and admitted that they should
have hired an interpreter, but, I do have later on in that policy. I stopped reading it, but it goes on it
very clearly states that VRI is only to be used in emergencies, somebody just comes in unexpectedly.
There is no interpreter there, that is a situation we used for VRI because it's all you have.
Apart from that, it doesn't serve much of a purpose, apart from doing those.
I would love to workshop with you sometimes because that situation comes up often and it would be
effective if there was a policy like that.
That is why I have the policy, the last two times it was effective. Whether they follow it I don't know, but
they have reason that it was valid and they need an interpreter. I will add that it can be a tool for the
Speaking of that type of situation, so who is technically responsible for providing that effective
communication? The consumer or public provider?
The public provider, the public accommodation is required to provide the effective communications.
You do not have any obligation as a person with a hearing impairment to come out of pocket for your
In fact, it even says in the ADA that search and accessibility are violation of the law. You can't charge
someone to use an accessible bathroom, and let able-bodied people use the able body bathroom of
Even on her cell phone, they unfortunately they call it a death tax, but we all pay, it's not just people
who are deaf that after pay. So, it would not be right for the person with a disability to be charged. I do
case with that where they charged a client more money to rent a inaccessible porta potty in a
campground, as opposed to what the normal one was. Every time we asked why we got a different
excuse, so we got that money back and we have a new policy now.
To people think that we are just going around renting their own accessible bathroom everywhere? That
would be an astronomical problem.
(Laughs) Right, right. But opponents of the APA call it an unfunded mandate. Why should this
business have to come out of pocket to hire an interpreter, or reconstruct their parking lot or build
ramps, or what have you. It is not inexpensive, but there are tax credits that you get for incurring those
Whether that is in line with the periodic need to hire an interpreter, I would guess that would qualify for
a tax credit.
So, when people make that argument is another piece of self advocacy that you can give them. "As a
matter of fact, it is not a deduction. It is not like you are going to deduct this, it is a credit." You get tax
dollars paid by hiring an interpreter. The credit is $0.50 to the dollar after the first 500 bucks, but still,
whatever they actually pay will only cost a bit.
I think people view it as a cost, but in the moment it is a direct cost as you talk about FCC taxes, or a
lot of things we already pay to you that seem more interact. There is tons of things that are required of
businesses, and individuals for that matter, and we just have to pay them, or we just have to do that
because that is the society we are part of. I could be surprised as a business having to do that and
realizing what the cost is, but at the end of the day we are all participating in a society that is diverse
and making sure that we include them.
Just because a business has to come out of pocket is not a defence. It has to be unduly burdensome.
So, at the end of the day if the cost of the interpreter is significantly more than the revenue generated
by that customer, perhaps that is unduly burdensome.
But, if you are there incurring -- buying a $30,000 car or hospitalized at God knows how many of
thousands of dollars a day (Laughs) Is a drop in the bucket. So, I don't think it could ever be found to
be burdensome in some cases. But do you have the right to effective communication? Absolutely, but
if it is able to happen without the pharmacy coming out of pocket, that would be what the pharmacy
would choose when there is just four dollars at stake if that makes sense.
I don't think you can look at it divorced of economics in the situation.
Wonderful, yeah, thank you for thoroughly explained that. Thank you, yeah.
Society is not designed for disabled communities, so we are trying to point out where the -- we are
always ready to find where the combination should be and hopefully rely on the law on when it comes
to accommodations. Just to open it up again, if there's any audience comments, questions, thoughts to
share and then I will handed over to Angelica Dill close.
Yes, we will love it if anyone wants to come on and add any more comments or questions. We can
give it another moment, and then close.
The question about the timeline.
You want to name the question?
Yes, here's the question, if a person files and mistreated complaint about an ADA violation, what is the
typical timeline to hear back? The answer is that it varies greatly.
I would say that the pandemic has not helped at all, with regard to the responsiveness of our federal
government within mistreated of restraints. So historically, pre-pandemic it would be unusual if you
went online to ADA.gov, in my experience. I have helped many people do this and come to me in
frustration after doing it and not hearing anything back for a while.
You are not going to hear anything for at least 30 days, you may not hear anything for two or three
months. That being said, I have found that the office of civil rights within the department of education is
extremely responsive, and he would probably hear something from them within 30 days, for sure, and
they would likely follow up with you.
Same thing is true with the equal employment opportunity or discrimination. They are horribly
backlogged in getting into conversation with them takes months, but once you get through that point
they are very responsive generally.
So, a couple of anecdotes about the DOJ. This is where I most experience, the DOJ historically would
referred the complaint tent and the respondent, the person that was being complained about to 1/3
party remediation company in Maryland to try and set up a telephone conference to try and solve the
dispute in that way. Every once in a blue moon they would go and investigate something that lots of
people were planning about.
I remember filing cases in the early 2000's above Greyhound bus stations because the stations
themselves were not accessible. I had, I don't know, several of them in several states from Florida to
Washington State stop several of them were pending and I got a call from the Department of Justice if
there was any discrimination of bus drivers not putting people get off the bus, all the stuff because they
were in the process of investigating that for a big case which they subsequently brought. I did one
case where they had not heard anything for a month, where a son was kicked out of a mall for the
diabetic service dog. They were escorted off by security so I took that caisson with a demand later and
was in negotiations close to getting it resolved when I got a call from the United states attorney for the
state is happened saying that the client told me to call you because we just got from the DOJ the
administrative complaint filed.
We were going to do this case for her but if they were doing it for her we would just see how it turns
out. So, things can happen, and I would recommend that if for no other reason you are creating a
public record that this happened in the facility. If everyone that was discriminated against put their
government on notice of where and when this happened, they would be responsive and they would be
responded to first.
There is definitely merit to doing it, I don't know necessarily if it resolves a lot of claims, to be totally
candid, but it certainly doesn't hurt, and you can get attention. I have seen success with these things.
So I hope this answer the question, but if you're expecting to file the complaint and someone from the
federal government to talk to the dentist to use trades example, that is never going to happen with an
It seems that with more suits you can refer to it makes the ADA stronger, but I personally do not see a
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lot of effective change unless you go to a business and get the right person, right position, right
attitude and they make things happen and it is great. Then, so what is replaced or something changes
and it falls through. I know for my own work that sometimes policy change and sometimes lawsuits
unfortunately, a lot of the times really do create the impact that is needed.
Yeah, I would say that probably 1% of the disability community does the advocacy for the other 99%. It
takes folks who are willing to step forward and say, "This is wrong and needs to change." And not
afraid to have their name out there on a complaint to affect change.
I will ask you if there any more questions. We put our email in the chat, and we can follow up with an
email with all of this information, all of the links and the information with everybody, so you don't have
to write it down right now.
We also are going to put oats and resources too. And had shared something earlier, we will put that
back out again if you want to click on it. I had found something when we were going over some
information about small businesses with the ADA, and the ADA title III had some information as well,
this website I had found.
Also, we wanted to put out a survey. We put this out every time just to get a poll of how things went in
the webinar, what you would like to see for
, was something accessible, we want to make it better whatever it might be.
Maybe you click great, great, great, great. That is good to know to. If you visit our website, I encourage
you just to see it, to have all of the videos on there and all of the work that we have put into recording a
lot of deaf interpreters in our community, investing into the deaf ecosystem and hiring them, and also
having that is an accessible website. You don't see it often and we are proud to show that. But also if
you want to subscribe to our newsletter we send out a blurb here and there, and also send out when
we have an event in the future.
So, subscribe to that. Don't think there's anything else unless you have any last thoughts trey, or Ed.
Yeah, I just want to thank you all for coming. I hope everyone learn something new, and if you still
want to ask some questions, I know we ran out of time you can reach out to us, you can reach out to
Ed directly at any time.
We are here to support you all, and our next ADA Q&A session will be on June 1, same time, six to
7:30 PM the resume. We will send that information out the resume. Thank you again for attending, Ed
did you want to add any last-minute thoughts or advice?
No, thanks for including me. I enjoyed it.
Thank you so much.
Wish you all well.
Thank you, thanks interpreters as well.
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