Overview of Title III of the ADA

Provision of Auxiliary Aids to Deaf and Hard of Hearing

Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) gives rights of equal access to places of public accommodation. For Deaf and Hard of Hearing people, Title III requires businesses and agencies to remove many frustrating barriers to communication. Title III covers a wide range of places of public accommodation, including retail stores and the wide range of service businesses such as hotels, theaters, restaurants, doctors' and lawyers' offices, optometrists, dentists, banks, insurance agencies, museums, parks, libraries, day care centers, recreational programs, social service agencies and private schools. It covers both profit and non-profit organizations. Unlike the employment section, which only applies to employers with 15 or more employees, this part of the ADA applies to all such offices and businesses, regardless of size. Places of public accommodation must give persons with disabilities equal opportunity to participate in and to benefit from their services. They cannot provide unequal or separate benefits to persons with disabilities.

They must modify their policies and practices when necessary to provide equal access to services and facilities. In order to provide equal access, all public accommodations are required to provide auxiliary aids and services to ensure effective communication. The U.S. Department of Justice regulation to Title III of the ADA, 28 C.F.R. Part 36, and the Analysis that accompanies it, 56 Fed. Reg. 35544 - 35691 (July 26, 1991), explain in detail the requirements of the law. Public accommodations are required to provide auxiliary aids to enable a person with disabilities to communicate effectively:

  • A public accommodation shall furnish appropriate auxiliary aids and services where necessary to ensure effective communication with individuals with disabilities. 28 C.F.R. _36.303(c). A comprehensive list of auxiliary aids and services required by the ADA for Deaf and Hard of Hearing people includes: [qualified interpreters, note takers, computer-aided transcription services, written materials, telephone handset amplifiers, assistive listening devices, assistive listening systems, telephones compatible with hearing aids, closed caption decoders, open and closed captioning, telecommunication devices for deaf persons [TTYs], videotext displays, or other effective methods of making aurally delivered materials available to individuals with hearing impairments.

  • A public accommodation may not impose a surcharge on a particular individual with a disability . . . to cover the costs of measures, such as the provision of auxiliary aids . . that are required to provide that individual . . . with the nondiscriminatory treatment required by the Act or this part. 28 C.F.R. 36.301(c). The cost of interpreters and other auxiliary aids may entitle a business to an income tax credit, as well as the usual business-related expense deduction. Congress has amended the Internal Revenue Code to provide business tax incentives for removing barriers or increasing accessibility.