ADA Blog


ADA Blog #22

Do you know what your company would do?

Our ability to orally communicate is unique to us as human beings. It's so important that the ability to do so is considered among one of our basic civil rights.  Consequently, the ADA requires us to "provide effective communication" during our interactions in the workplace, workspace & marketplace. Sometimes this might involve providing "auxiliary aids." This means that written materials, such as job applications, be offered in alternate formats (braille, large print, or accessible electronic formats such as email or HTML) for people with visual impairments, or providing a sign language interpreter during training sessions for people with hearing impairments.

To resolve an ADA complaint filed by an individual who is deaf, the Justice Department, under a comprehensive settlement agreement, is requiring, among other things, that H&R Block furnish appropriate auxiliary aids and services, including sign language interpreter services, when necessary, in its tax preparation services, programs and courses. When services such as tax preparation involve important, lengthy or complex oral communications with customers, businesses are generally required to provide qualified sign language interpreters and other auxiliary aids, free of charge, to individuals who are deaf, are hard of hearing or have speech disabilities. Other auxiliary aids may include the use of relay services for telephone communication, exchanging notes for brief and uncomplicated communications, providing assistive listening systems and receivers in classes for attendees who are hard of hearing, and providing captioned videos.

The appropriate auxiliary aid to be provided depends on a variety of factors including the nature, length and importance of the communication; the communication skills and knowledge of the individual; and the individual’s stated need for a particular type of auxiliary aid. 

It's important that you have policies and procedures in place when an individual needs such an accommodation so that you can ensure equal access to the services and programs you offer.


This information should not be construed as "legal advice" for a particular set of facts or circumstances.  It is intended only to be a practical guide for participants familiar with this subject.  Users should seek appropriate legal advice tailored to address their specific situation.