The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is in place to ensure that all populations have access to the services provided by your healthcare organization. Similarly to any other translation project, the ADA requires a certain level of communication to be achieved through alternative formatting of documents for those with communication disabilities. 

ADA and communication regulations

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulates the communication that healthcare organizations have with people who have communication disabilities. A communication disability is any disability “that affects an individual’s ability to comprehend, detect, or apply language and speech to engage in discourse effectively with others.” Communication with populations who have these conditions should be equally as effective as communication with individuals without these conditions.

Often times healthcare organizations must also comply with section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which requires federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology (EIT) accessible to people with disabilities. The law applies to all Federal agencies when they develop, procure, maintain, or use this type of technology. In many cases, it means that PDF documents must be reader-ready or accessible, and allow the computer to read them out loud in English and any other language it was translated into.

ADA and alternative formats

In a healthcare setting, most patients that need ADA-compliant translation will have visual or hearing impairments. In these cases, alternative formats will need to be supplied so your patients can fully understand the treatment they are receiving, and what to expect from their care. 

Alternative formats include, but are not limited to, braille, real-time captioning, large print formatting, accessible PDFs, and audio formatting. Each of these can help to preserve the original meaning of your communication while making it accessible to your audience. 

ADA and coverage requirements

ADA compliance isn’t confined directly to the patient being treated. For example, if prenatal classes are offered as a service to both fathers and mothers, a father who is deaf or hard-of-hearing must be provided auxiliary aids or services to ensure that he has the same opportunity to benefit from the classes as would other fathers. Similarly, a deaf parent of a hearing child may require an auxiliary aid or service to communicate effectively with healthcare providers, participate in the child’s health care, and to give informed consent for the child’s medical treatment. Classes, support groups, and other activities that are open to the public must also be accessible to deaf and hard of hearing participants.

Finally, the ADA does not require a medical practice to provide translators or interpreters for non-English speaking patients. However, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act does. Title VI of the Civil Rights Act forbids discrimination by any program that receives money from the federal government and requires that health and social service providers give their limited-English-proficient patients meaningful access to their services, which may entail offering translation or interpreting services. These must be provided to the patients free of charge.

We can help you with your ADA-compliant translation projects. Call us at 530-750-2040 or request a free quote to get started with your next translation project today!

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