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Why provide reasonable accommodations?

In the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the United Nations defined a reasonable accommodation as “a necessary and appropriate modification and adjustments […] to ensure to persons with disabilities the enjoyment or exercise on an equal basis with others of all human rights and fundamental freedoms.”* Although there are several reasons why a reasonable accommodation should be provided, it the most fundamental reason is that as citizens of this world we want people with disabilities, and in this case, those who are Deaf or DeafBlind to have access to the same affordances those without disabilities have, and to enjoy a full, immersive life where they can be all they want to be. Hence, the first reason is a moral, ethical one. This should take precedence over any other reasons.


In addition, the United States has put laws into place to ensure equal opportunity and access to individuals with disabilities. This compels companies and organizations to provide interpreting services for their employees, patrons, and patients.


One such federal laws is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), amended in 2008, which applies to numerous settings in which individuals with disabilities are to be provided reasonable accommodations to ensure equality. It prohibits discrimination against individuals who have impairments that substantially limit a major life activity, have a history of a substantially limiting impairment, or are regarded as having a disability. This provision includes those who are Deaf and DeafBlind. The ADA requires that State and local governments, as well as businesses and nonprofit organizations that serve the public communicate effectively with people who have communication disabilities.# Effective communication could take the form of braille documents, real time captioning (CART), a qualified sign language interpreter, among others.


Although providing accommodations is required by this federal law if the organization employs 15 individuals or more, some states have passed additional legislation making this number lower. While an organization may be able to prove that providing one of these accommodations is an “undue burden” and may be exempt from providing such accommodation, they are however, strongly encouraged to seek out alternatives ensuring that effective communication is achieved. The ADA law is enforced by U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).


Due to the complexity of the Americans with Disabilities Act, it can be challenging for companies to find information regarding how to best support Deaf, DeafBlind, and hard-of-hearing individuals.  Mind Your Language specializes in providing information and resources to assist companies in implementing the right solution.




# | (See 42 U.S.C. §12102(2); 29 C.F.R. §1630.2(g)


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