Ensuring Communication Access

For The Deaf And Hard Of Hearing

Ensuring Communication Access For The Deaf And Hard Of Hearing
May 29, 2015 David Bahar

By David Bahar

A New York Daily News article [1] revealed continuing problems in the New York Police Department with respect to the accommodations it provides to the deaf and hard-of-hearing. As a public entity, the NYPD has obligations under the Americans with Disabilities Act to provide qualified individuals with a disability with effective communication. For deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals that use American Sign Language, the definition of effective communication can include a sign language interpreter.

However, for both Diana Williams and Robert Rapa, sign language interpreters were not provided during their initial encounters with the police, or during their time at the police station. Surprisingly, the officer arresting Diana went so far as to indicate on the arrest report that an interpreter was not needed, and that she did not have a disability.