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Accessibility - Interpreters at Doctors, Dentists, and Hospitals

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Updated June 10, 2014

ADA Cases Involving Interpreters

The Department of Justice publishes an online newsletter, Disability Rights online news, that contains examples of cases involving doctors, dentists, and hospitals. Below are summarized examples found. In some of the hospital cases, the deaf or hearing patients were in the emergency room when they needed but did not get interpreters, and/or did not have interpreters throughout their hospital stay. Frequently deaf patients were administered drugs and procedures without understanding what was going on, or family members were forced into inappropriate roles as ad-hoc interpreters.
  • August 2007: A Rhode Island hospital settled and agrees to provide interpreters.
  • June 2007: A Virginia hospital settled and agrees to provide interpreters for deaf family members of hearing patients.
  • December 2006: A Louisiana hospital settled and agrees to provide interpreters to deaf patients.
  • October 2006: A Florida hospital settled and agreed to provide interpreters.
  • August 2006: A Maryland hospital that was already using video interpreting, agreed to provide more effective video interpreting services.
  • June 2006: Eight cases:
    • An Indiana dental office agreed to provide interpreters for complex procedures.
    • A Minnesota doctor agreed to provide interpreters.
    • A Georgia doctor agreed to provide interpreters.
    • A doctor in a rural Nevada area agreed to provide interpreters.
    • A Florida doctor agreed to provide interpreters.
    • A Michigan doctor agreed to provide interpreters instead of asking the deaf patient to use a family member.
    • A Nevada dentist agreed to provide effective communication.
    • An Illinois medical specialist agreed to provide interpreters.
  • February 2006: A Delaware hospital agreed to provide interpreters. The patient had no interpreter in either the emergency room or throughout his stay.
  • September 2005: A Washington, DC hospital agreed to provide an interpreter or other effective communication.
  • December 2004: Three cases:
    • A Maryland hospital agreed to provide interpreters.
    • In Tennessee, three doctors agreed to provide interpreters for the same deaf client.
    • An Iowa dentist agreed to provide interpreters.
Sources (accessed 11/21/07):

ADA Technical Assistance Manual 1994 Supplement, http://www.ada.gov/taman3up.html
ADA Title III Technical Assistance Manual, http://www.ada.gov/taman3.html
Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, http://www.ada.gov/pubs/ada.htm
Department of Justice ADA Mediation Program, http://www.ada.gov/mediate.htm
Disability Rights Online News, http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/ada/disabilitynews.htm
Doctors - National Association of the Deaf, http://www.nad.org/doctors
Title III Highlights, http://www.ada.gov/t3hilght.htm

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