When Is Sign Language Interpreting Required By Law?

Partners Interpreting provides a flexible suite of communication access solutions that include sign language interpreting and captioning services nationwide both on-site and remotely. Partners Interpreting, which is owned and operated by nationally certified interpreters, makes communication clear and simple for organizations in healthcare, education, human services, as well as the corporate and government sectors. We provide people the language, power and opportunity to communicate.

WHAT and WHY provide a Sign Language Interpreter?

Sign language, specifically American Sign Language (ASL), in the United States of America provides Deaf and Hard of Hearing people with equal access to their surroundings. At any given time an individual’s surrounding has multiple environmental sounds, critical information being relayed and communication occurring with peers, coworkers and others in that environment. There are a lot for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing person to miss but the feeling that they are left out of can be reduced with an ASL Interpreter. This is not just a moral tugging of what is right and wrong in providing everyone with equal communication access; it is also a legal matter.

When Is Sign Language Interpreting Required By Law?

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) was drafted and passed with a series of measures to limit or in some cases prohibit instances of discrimination because of one’s disability. The ADA clearly outlines the requirements of providing equal access for the communication needs of Deaf and Hard of Hearing persons. The requirement that is mainly used and the most effective one is the placement of an ASL interpreter.

Sign Language Interpreting Laws

WHERE/WHICH places are required to provide an ASL Interpreter?

The short answer for this question is, EVERYWHERE that the Deaf and Hard of Hearing person makes a request for an interpreter to be present. However, there are some exceptions, but these rarely pass the review of the legal system. With the knowledge that Deaf and Hard of Hearing people deserve equal communication access everywhere, there are two settings that are extremely important, the healthcare system and the legal system.


In the Healthcare sector, having an ASL medical interpreter is vital to the health of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing patients. There are many divisions of the healthcare sector, but hospitals are absolutely required to provide appropriate means of communications to any patients, family members, and/or hospital visitors who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing. This requirement of providing equal communication access applies to ALL departments of the hospital, the emergency room, the radiology department, and even to the admission department.


In all levels of education, the student is protected by multiple laws if they request accommodations. These laws include but not limited to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, section 04 “504 Plan”, and also the Civil Rights Law. Primarily for K-12 Education, the student is protected under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), section 1414 (d) (3) (B) and section 300.34 (b) (4).**

For post-secondary and continuing education, students are primarily protected by the ADA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.

Partners Interpreting can provide you with an educational interpreter in New England.


Any and all accommodations should include making reasonable modifications in practices and procedures or providing auxiliary aids and services, equipment, devices, and/or materials. The most favorable and effective auxiliary aids is the placement of an ASL Interpreter.


All employers and/or hiring department are required to provide an ASL interpreter for interviews with a Deaf and Hard of Hearing candidate.

The type of business and/or services you provide should not be a factor for whether you should provide an ASL interpreter or not. Every business is required by law to fabricate a wheelchair ramp, install an elevator (if architecturally possible), and make sure all signs are also in braille. These accommodations and/or adjustments to your facility are funded by your budget breakdown under “accessibility”. Deaf and Hard of Hearing people are not physically bound/limited to use the ramp, elevator, and/or read braille, but cannot get the same access under “accessibility” to one of the most important aspect of human interaction…communication.

Please understand that there can be some severe penalties for not honoring the Deaf and Hard of Hearing person’s request for accommodations.

Partners Interpreting is just as committed to the community of businesses, corporations, and small private practices as we are to the Deaf Community.

With our full service offering, Partners Interpreting simplifies the process of service coordination, HR and payroll management all while reducing your administrative tasks and time. In addition to our 24 hour support, our clients enjoy a feature rich, secure web based scheduling portal to access their comprehensive account information including schedules, financial data and history.

Partners Interpreting operates based on the philosophy of fair and equal opportunity for all. This core value balances perspective and needs of all the ‘players’ (providers, clients & consumers) involved in the process, resulting in quality and effective services. Our dedicated team is excited to share their expertise and solutions to support you and your organization.

To see how communication access can open opportunities for you and your clients, employees, patients, students, visitors and more please contact our ASL agency today!

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Partners Interpreting

Published by Katherine Lees 12/24/15.