As the ADA Turns 25, Health Care Facilities Must Continue to Consider Access to Sign Language Interpreters

Houston Medical Times May 2015

Joshua A. Stein, a Member of the Firm in the Labor and Employment practice and co-chair of the firm's ADA and Public Accommodations Group, in the firm’s New York office, authored an article in Houston Medical Times, titled “As the ADA Turns 25, Health Care Facilities Must Continue to Consider Access to Sign Language Interpreters.”

Following is an excerpt (see below for a PDF of the full article):

July 26, 2015, marks the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. This event that will almost certainly be celebrated with significant developments impacting Title III of the ADA (“Title III”) which governs places of public accommodation, including hospitals and professional offices of health care providers.

Recently, the U.S. Department of Justice’s (“DOJ”) – the party charged with enforcing Title III – has focused on health care facilities generally and, more specifically, the availability of sign language interpreters. These developments stem from the obligation of places of public accommodation to provide visitors with auxiliary aids and services to enable effective communication. Over the past year, DOJ has (with the assistance of U.S. Attorney Offices acting on its behalf) actively pursued such matters at health care facilities of sizes and scopes ranging all over the spectrum—from small individual physician practices to major hospitals. This initiative resulted in a significant number of settlement agreements focusing extensively on the need for health care facilities to successfully develop and implement policies, practices, and procedures for determining whether patients require interpreting services and, when they do, providing such services in an appropriately prompt and effective manner.