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Expert Lecture: Zainab Alkebsi on ADA Requirements for Effective Communication” video


A young woman has olive skin and long black wavy hair. She wears a black cardigan over a purple shirt.

TEXT: Zainab Alkebsi – Policy Counsel, NAD. ADA on effective communication.

A thick green rectangle border frames Zainab and a circular logo has an NDC logo.

Zainab uses sign language.


For deaf and hard of hearing individuals and other individuals who have communication disabilities equal access means access to effective communication. The ADA requires that covered entities must

provide auxiliary aids and services when needed to ensure effective communication with deaf and hard of hearing individuals.

Auxiliary aids or services for deaf or hard of hearing individuals include but are not limited to: qualified sign language interpreters; cued speech transliterators; tactile interpreters; or text-based services such as Communication Access Realtime Transcription (CART).

Which auxiliary aid or service is necessary depends on a variety of factors, including the nature, length, and complexity of the interaction, context of the communication, and the deaf or hard of hearing individual’s usual method of communication.

When choosing an auxiliary aid or service, Title II entities (state or local government) are required to give primary consideration to the choice of aid or service requested by the person with a disability. The state or local government must honour the person’s choice, unless it can show that another equally effective method is available or that providing the person’s choice would result in an undue burden or fundamental alteration.

Even if the person’s choice results in an undue burden or fundamental alteration, the state or local government entity still has an obligation to provide an alternative method that provides effective communication if one is available.

Title III entities (private businesses) are encouraged to consult with the person with a disability to discuss what auxiliary aid or service is appropriate. The goal is to provide an aid or service that will be effective given the context of the communication and the person’s method of communicating.


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