ADA & Businesses
About ADA & Businesses

Americans with Disability Act of 1990, referred to as ADA requires all businesses with 15 employees (for profit or non-profit) to provide effective communication to the deaf and hard of hearing! Another law to be aware of is “Ignorance is no exception to the law”!


Frequently Asked Questions

Why does interaction between the interpreter and student continue after I am through speaking?

When using sign interpreting, it is customary to experience a natural time lag, as it is common that the interpreter is clarifying the signs or information that is being presented.

When the deaf student's behavior is inappropriate why does the interpreter not correct the situation?

The interpreter's position was established to provide clear and effective communication in a non-biased environment for the purpose of communication, inclusion and independence. Certified Interpreters are bound to a strict code of ethics that prohibits the interpreter from advising or correcting, and is also required to keep everything confidential.

Interpreters are provided ONLY to facilitate spoken language into sign. They are bound by a strict code of ethics not to advise, add input, or correct. All learned information is subject to privacy, even known information that the student may be cheating or skipping classes. If a certified interpreter breaks this code of ethics, he or she jeopardizes his or her own certification. This is common knowledge among the deaf population since their expectations are high. The instructor is advised to inform campus Deaf Services of attendance or behavior problems. In addition, all such information within the hearing distance of the Interpreter must be signed and vise versa.

  • Changing class times: the interpreter only gets classroom information. If a class were to be changed, it would be greatly appreciated if you would email the agency/interpreter as well.
  • An interpreter is only provided for classroom time. Any special request for outside classroom activities will need to be approved by the Office of Disability Services.
  • An interpreter can offer you suggestions when working with your deaf student. Always be flexible and willing to make the interpreting experience valuable and rewarding.
  • Interpreters are instructed to bring a book to read or check PDA's to update themselves on their schedules during quiet times in a classroom when the deaf student is working independently.
  • It is advised to work out tutoring for your deaf students early in the semester due to the loss of information causing them to fall behind.
  • Deaf cannot take notes for themselves; while writing down information they lose eye contact and lose valuable information in-between looking up. The instructor needs to wait until the student looks up before moving on to the next point. Therefore, it would be most helpful to choose a good "note taker" or provide classroom notes to the deaf student.
  • When giving oral tests or answers to tests etc., deaf students tend to get lost when they drop their heads to write the answers. They will have to interrupt the class to clarify their answers for each question they missed due to writing down the earlier answers. It is best to have a hearing volunteer to grade the papers. Instructors may need to accommodate deaf students taking oral tests, in essence to lessen distraction during such a test.
  • When an interpreter begins speaking verbally, he is either clarifying missed information or making comments for the deaf individual. Keep in mind that due to the time lag, often the student falls behind in making comments. He is trying to interact. An interpreter will interrupt for clarification. Please keep in mind that if the interpreter did not understand, perhaps the hearing students missed your comments as well.
  • The interpreter is required to interpret everything in a classroom. This is called "equal access". What is heard by the hearing is interpreted to the deaf; this includes lewd remarks and noises. In turn, an interpreter is expected to reverse-interpret all signed comments by the deaf. An interpreter will make a judgment call on what to voice. For example, if whispering occurs, then the interpreter will not voice it due to creating undue disturbance.
  • The interpreter has to paraphrase all spoken material. Any language differences need to be brought to the interpreter's attention. For example: Recently in an accounting class, the common term "debit" was used. The common meaning would be "to subtract." Since there is not a sign for "debit" and there is a sign for subtract, then that was the signed used. Later the instructor told the class to remember that debit in this case did not mean to subtract. The interpreter had been using the incorrect sign for days. Such common language barriers increase communication breakdown. Please be mindful of the presence of an interpreter and bring vocabulary differences to his attention when possible.
  • Why don't American deaf individuals understand the English language? American Sign Language (ASL) is a visual concept of spoken language, which incorporates movements and gestures combined with paraphrasing and expressions. This language is around 200 years old and began in the USA. It is actually the ONLY language born in the United States. It has approximately 4000 sign/words compared to the English language of over 72,000. Therefore, if a word is presented such as "monitor" it is often interpreted as the verb, "to watch," as, "Monitor the animal while it is medicated." The request is to watch the animal and therefore the sign for "watch" is used and the deaf individual never becomes accustomed to some English vocabulary such as the noun, "the monitor" for the computer!
  • Usually the deaf child is often the first deaf family member of a hearing family. Naturally, the family would have no understanding of ASL. Thus this individual is usually delayed in development of language. Family members usually learn to communicate basics in ASL. Typically, family members never learn to sign fluently. They tend to talk for their deaf loved ones, which makes it hard to make commitments with a deaf person. Often a well-meaning family member will make an agreement. For such reasons alone, problems with independence, inclusion and such, the profession of sign language interpreters was born.
  • Deaf individuals often can struggle a lifetime with the complexity of the English language while thinking in ASL. One victory among the deaf was when ASL was declared as a bona fide language; meaning ASL has grammatical rules of its own. ASL is forever adapting to English traditions. There are other sign systems as well: sign English and Pigeon. Some signs are based on ethnic and social surroundings, as well as home made signs. ASL in not a universal sign system. Each country has a sign system based on its own customs and language.

Oral test! Oral reports! Oral-to-written!

Save yourself the headache. Keep in mind that when you have a test and you want to briefly verbally run through answers, be prepared for what was meant to save time turning into a time-consuming task. It is best to pick a person in the class to grade your hearing-impaired student's paper, to decrease time lag and lessen confusion. The deaf student cannot keep up with hearing students who look at their papers while listening to the answers. The deaf student will have to keep their eye on the interpreter and then look down to answer then look back up for each question. Usually by this time they get lost and end up causing constant interruptions to the class. What was intended to be quick and easy can easily become time confusing and create frustrations for the whole class.

Oral reports are difficult for even the most qualified interpreters to voice. The reason is that signs are often made up on the spot due to limited sign vocabulary vs. English. Therefore, when voicing, several things are finger spelled and unfamiliar signs are presented to the interpreter on the spot; we call this being in the hot seat! It is advised that the student and interpreter practice the presentation prior to the event. To eliminate such dilemmas the instructor often works out a different plan for the deaf student. This action is referred to as "making accommodations."


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