Previous articles have focused on access to medical services due to a large number of inquiries from the community regarding lack of access to medical service providers. Access to programs, services or events sponsored by nonprofit entities and or public accommodations (which includes doctors’ offices) has been another major area of concern because many nonprofit entities and/or public accommodations think that the ADA does not apply to them.
According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC):
A public accommodation is a private entity that owns, operates, leases, or leases to, a place of public accommodation. Places of public accommodation include a wide range of entities, such as restaurants, hotels, theaters, doctors’ offices, pharmacies, retail stores, museums, libraries, parks, private schools, and day care centers. Private clubs and religious organizations are exempt from the ADA’s title III requirements for public accommodations.
Department of Justice guidelines – § 36.303 Auxiliary aids and services:
(c) Effective communication.
(1) A public accommodation shall furnish appropriate auxiliary aids and services where necessary
to ensure effective communication with individuals with disabilities. This includes an obligation to provide effective communication to companions who are individuals with disabilities.
(ii) The type of auxiliary aid or service necessary to ensure effective communication will vary in accordance with the method of communication used by the individual; the nature, length, and complexity of the communication involved; and the context in which the communication is taking place. A public accommodation should consult with individuals with disabilities whenever possible to determine what type of auxiliary aid is needed to ensure effective communication, but the ultimate decision as to what measures to take rests with the public accommodation, provided that the method chosen results in effective communication.
In order to be effective, auxiliary aids and services must be provided in accessible formats, in a timely manner, and in such a way as to protect the privacy and independence of the individual with a disability.
The guiding criterion is that the public accommodation must provide appropriate auxiliary aids and services to ensure effective communication with the individual and that to be considered a qualified interpreter the interpreter must be able to interpret both receptively and expressively.
The regulation is to make certain that interpreters both (1) are capable of understanding what a person with a disability is saying and (2) have the skills needed to convey information back to that individual. These are two very different skill sets and both are equally important to achieve effective communication.
The final definition now states that ‘‘[q]ualified interpreter means an interpreter who, via a video remote interpreting (VRI) service or an on-site appearance, is able to interpret effectively, accurately, and impartially, both receptively and expressively, using any necessary specialized vocabulary.
If the public accommodation is in noncompliance with ADA regulations, private individuals may bring lawsuits in which they can obtain court orders to stop discrimination. Individuals may also file complaints with the Attorney General, who is authorized to bring lawsuits in cases of general public importance or where a “pattern or practice” of discrimination is alleged. In these cases, the Attorney General may seek monetary damages and civil penalties.
Beginning July 1, 2018, CCDHH will implement Colorado’s Rural Interpreting Services Project (Pilot) (RISP), which will provide and fund ASL/English interpreting services for rural Coloradans.
Although the ADA, which has been in existence since 1990, requires access to effective communication for individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing and deafblind, the reality is that many still struggle to get access to effective communication. This is especially true for those living in rural areas of Colorado. Lack of funding and knowledge on how to comply with the ADA, and a shortage of interpreters in rural communities, are frequent barriers.
To satisfy the goal of providing interpreting services in rural communities, RISP will:
In addition to providing interpreting services, there are two other components to the pilot project, training and outreach. The project will fund training and mentoring opportunities for interpreters who commit to working in rural areas of the state. More information on these parts of the project will be posted at a later date.
This project will be evaluated for two to three years, depending on funding availability. CCDHH will conduct research during the evaluation phase and make regular reports to the legislature on project outcomes.
Please feel free to share your thoughts and feedback with CCDHH as it moves forward. CCDHH will be putting together a stakeholder committee and holding town hall meetings across the state.
The CCDHH web site will be updated with this new project soon and more announcements will be forthcoming.
In January 2018, members of the Deafblind Taskforce and Colorado Commission for Deaf and Hard of Hearing (CCDHH) had a meeting concerning hosting a “Community Forum” for deafblind people. The purpose behind this was to help increase awareness of available resources for the deafblind community build a network with the community.
CCDHH and the Deafblind Taskforce worked closely to plan and organize this first-ever event in Colorado.
The event took place on June 9, 2018, and more than 100 people attended including deafblind citizens, Support Service Provider (SSPs), interpreters (hearing and deaf), and professionals who work within the deafblind community.
The forum provided booths for vendors, such as Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR), ClearCaptions, Colorado Center for the Blind, Relay Colorado, Sprint Relay, International Hearing Dogs and Commissioners of CCDHHDB.
Also during the forum, several presenters discussed many deafblind resources including Jim Pilkington with DVR who provided self-defense techniques. He is blind himself and teaches self-defense to the blind and deafblind. Other presenters included a member from Assistive Technology Partners, International Hearing Dog, Inc., Deafblind Taskforce members, Sprint Relay and staff members of Deafblind Services and the Communication Technology Program.
The forum also hosted a special guest, Colorado Representative Dave Young, who provided a presentation regarding his role in supporting the deafblind community. He was part of the finance committee that approved CCDHH‘s Deafblind Services program.
A goal of this forum was to create a Deafblind Citizens Advisory Council, which will be housed under CCDHH. This Council will be comprised of seven members of the deafblind community and will advise and review issues related to deafblind services, resources and the community. The Council will have bi-monthly meetings.
To close the forum, CCDHHDB honored the three individuals who spearheaded the Deafblind Taskforce and brought these issues to light to the Legislature. Cynde Vaughn, Carolyn Haas and Heidi Zimmer, also known as the “Three Iron Women,” were awarded the Susan J. Elliott Award for their outstanding service. These three individuals were instrumental in the creation of the bill that established deafblind services within CCDHH. Without them, CCDHH would not have SSP and Orientation & Mobility (O&M) services.
CCDHH is honored to be part of this forum and community and to provide services for deafblind Coloradans.
The next quarterly Commission meeting will be held from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, September 6, 2018.
Location and Agenda: TBA