If you have hearing loss, you are entitled by law to certain protections under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). In addition to tools like hearing aids and cochlear implants, knowing what rights you are afforded can help ensure that your hearing needs are being adequately met.
The ADA and Communication Disabilities
The ADA requires that state and local governments, as well as any businesses and nonprofits that serve the public, communicate effectively with people who have hearing, vision or speech disabilities, known collectively as communication disabilities. This is to “ensure that communication with people with these disabilities is equally effective as communication with people without disabilities.”
What Does This Mean?
Since the ADA was signed into law in 1990, there have been a lot of technological advances that have changed the way we communicate. Let’s look at how those changes are being made more accessible for people with hearing loss.
- Telephones. Even before the ADA, the 1988 Hearing Aid Compatibility Act required that all telephones (including cellphones) be compatible with hearing aids. The Communications and Video Accessibility Act in 2010 ensured that things like text messaging, e-mail, instant messaging and video call services were accessible to people with disabilities. This means that the next time you go to Shoppes at Bel Air to look for a new phone, you’ll know that they’re required to have accessibility features to accommodate your hearing loss.
- Internet access. When it comes to internet access and the ADA, things are slightly murkier due to the fact that different judges have different opinions on whether or not “places of public accommodation” include virtual spaces like websites that don’t have a physical location. However, many states implemented their own rules that require things like pre-recorded audio and video have closed captions/and or transcripts available for those with hearing impairments.
- Work. Perhaps one of the biggest goals of the ADA was to ensure that Americans with disabilities were not prevented from working or earning a living. Instead, employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities, including hearing loss. This may include providing assistive listening devices like a captioned phone or specific computer software, among other things. Similarly, it’s important to know that you are not required to disclose your employer or potential employer, nor can they ask questions to determine if you have a disability.
If you have additional questions about the ADA and hearing loss or wish to make an appointment for any hearing-related need, call the experts at Premier Medical Group today and schedule an appointment.