What the Law Says

Federal Laws Pertaining to Sign Language Interpreters

There are numerous state and federal laws that may apply to providing an interpreter. The most commonly known is the 1990 Americans with Disability Act (ADA). It states that public entities (like a medical office, hospital, legal office, counseling office, and much more) are required to provide ‘effective communication’ for their deaf clients.

This also pertains to companies that have deaf employees – you must provide effective communication for staff meetings, company functions, etc.

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is a national law that protects qualified individuals from discrimination based on their disability. The nondiscrimination requirements of the law apply to employers and organizations that receive financial assistance from any Federal department or agency, including the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). These organizations and employers include many hospitals, nursing homes, mental health centers and human service programs.

Section 504 forbids organizations and employers from excluding or denying individuals with disabilities an equal opportunity to receive program benefits and services. It defines the rights of individuals with disabilities to participate in, and have access to, program benefits and services.

PLUS… there are a number of anti-discrimination laws and state laws that also apply.

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