This article gives information on laws which establish the right of people who are Deaf/Hard of Hearing (D/HOH) to an interpreter or auxiliary aid/service. However, this article is not designed to be a substitute for legal advice. This area of law is complex, and you should consult with an attorney to address your specific concerns. Contact your local bar association or visit the Ohio State Bar Association website to find a lawyer in your area.

Provision of Sign Language Interpreters/Auxiliary Aids and Services

The law guarantees that people who are D/HOH have a right to have an interpreter or auxiliary aid/services provided to them, when necessary, at no cost. The laws include:

  • Section 504 of The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504)
  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Titles I, II and III
  • Ohio Revised Code Chapter 4112 (ORC 4112)

It is the responsibility of the person who is D/HOH to inform the entity that he or she needs an interpreter or auxiliary aid/service.

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Auxiliary Aids and Services

Examples of auxiliary aids and services include:

  • qualified interpreter;
  • assistive listening devices;
  • note takers;
  • written materials;
  • television decoders;
  • TDDs;
  • computer-aided transcription services;
  • telephone handset amplifiers;
  • video text displays;
  • telephones compatible with hearing aids; and
  • open and closed captioning.

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Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) - Title I

Law and regulations under Title I of the ADA state that employers cannot discriminate against employees on the basis of disability, and that employers should provide reasonable accommodations for employees. Reasonable accommodations can include a wide variety of options, including qualified readers or interpreters, assistive technology, policy changes, leave, or even reassignment to a different open position if the employee is qualified for that position. The requirement is that an otherwise qualified employee must need these accommodations in order to perform the essential functions of the job. Employers can request proof of the need for an accommodation, and should discuss with the employee what accommodations would be effective. Sometimes, if there is an equally effective reasonable accommodation, the employer may choose which accommodation to provide. If an employee believes that an employer has discriminated against them on the basis of disability, or has refused to provide reasonable accommodations, the employee can file a charge of discrimination with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission (OCRC) within 180 days from an alleged act of discrimination, or with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) within 300 days from an alleged act of discrimination. Filing a charge and receiving a notice of right to sue letter is a prerequisite to filing a lawsuit in federal court; however, it is not necessary to file a charge prior to filing a lawsuit based on Ohio law in Ohio state courts.

Refer to Where to File an Administrative Complaint for OCRC and EEOC contact information.

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Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) - Title II

Title II of the ADA covers public entities, i.e. state and local government agencies. The federal regulations state that public entities that have telephones must also provide TDDs. Telephone emergency services must also be directly accessible to people who use TDDs. A public entity should ensure that communications with people who are D/HOH are effective. A public entity should provide auxiliary aids and services, such as a qualified interpreter, where necessary to afford people who are D/HOH an equal opportunity to participate in and enjoy a public entity's programs and services. However, a public entity is not required to provide personal services or devices, such as hearing aids, to people who are D/HOH. An administrative complaint against a public entity can be filed with the U.S. Department of Justice within 180 days of the discriminatory act. In Ohio, a private lawsuit can also be filed under Title II of the ADA against a public entity within two years of the discriminatory act.

Refer to Where to File an Administrative Complaint for the U.S. Department of Justice and the ADA Hotline web sites.

Read about the ADA's requirements for Effective Communication

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Institutions of Higher Education

State and federal law generally require institutions of higher education to provide auxiliary aids and services to students who are D/HOH. Public institutions must comply with Title II of the ADA, and private institutions must comply with Title III of the ADA.

The ADA does not cover private colleges and universities controlled by religious entities. However, all educational institutions that receive federal funds must comply with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, so even if a college or university is controlled by a religious entity, it will be covered by Section 504 as long as it receives any federal financial assistance. For example, an institution of higher education would be covered if it accepted any students who receive federal financial aid for their education. Ohio law also prohibits discrimination by institutions of higher education.

Administrative complaints can be filed under Section 504 and Title II with the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights within 180 days of the last act of discrimination. Administrative complaints can also be filed under Title III with the U.S. Department of Justice. Administrative complaints under Ohio law can be filed with OCRC within six months of the discrimination.

In Ohio, a lawsuit can also be filed within two years under Titles II and III, and Section 504.

Refer to Where to File an Administrative Complaint for OCRC and U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights contact information.

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Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) - Title III

Title III of the ADA applies to places of public accommodation such as commercial establishments (e.g. restaurants, hotels, movie theaters), doctors' offices and hospitals. Places of public accommodation are required to provide auxiliary aids and services for people who are D/HOH where such aids and services are necessary to ensure effective communications. However, a place of public accommodation is not required to provide personal services or devices, such as hearing aids, to persons who are D/HOH. Administrative complaints under state law can be filed with OCRC within 180 days. Administrative complaints can also be filed with the U.S. Department of Justice, and a lawsuit can be filed directly in court to seek injunctive relief under federal law. In Ohio, a lawsuit can be filed within six years under state law and within two years under federal law.

Refer to Where to File an Administrative Complaint for the U.S. Department of Justice and ADA Hotline web sites.

Read about the ADA's requirements for Effective Communication

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Communication Services

The Federal Communications Commission requires certain communications services, television programs and equipment to be accessible for people with disabilities, including those who are blind or visually impaired; people who are deaf, hard of hearing or deaf-blind; and people with speaking, mobility, dexterity, cognitive or intellectual disabilities.

Common Issues

Accessibility Complaint Filing Categories

If you need assistance, please contact the FCC Disability Rights Office at dro@fcc.gov, or call 202-418-2517 (voice), 202-418-2922 (TTY) or 1-844-432-2275 (videophone).

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Where to File a Complaint

If an entity refuses to provide an interpreter or other auxiliary aid or service, complaints can be filed with several different agencies. Where a complaint is filed depends on which law is being violated (i.e. ADA Titles I, II or III, Section 504, or Ohio Revised Code 4112), and on which program, service, or activity is involved. The following pages provide agency names, function and contact information. Contact the appropriate agency to file a complaint.

 

Ohio Civil Rights Commission (OCRC)

File complaints in the appropriate regional office or begin the process online. You may want to contact DRO or a private attorney for advice before filing a complaint. Timelines for filing a complaint may be short, so you should seek legal advice promptly.

Toll Free Number: 888-278-7101 for all locations
TTY: 614-752-2391 for all locations

Central Office
Rhodes State Office Tower
30 East Broad Street, 5th Floor
Columbus, OH 43215
Phone: 614-466-2785 Fax: 614-644-8776

Akron Regional Office
Akron Government Bldg.
161 S. High Street, Suite 205
Akron, OH 44308
Phone: 330-643-3100 Fax: 330-643-3120

Cincinnati Satellite Office
7162 Reading Road, Suite 606
Cincinnati, OH 45237
Phone: 513-351-2541 Fax: 513-351-2616

Cleveland Regional Office
Lausche State Office Building
615 W. Superior Ave., Suite 885
Cleveland, OH 44113
Phone: 216-787-3150 Fax: 216-787-4121

Columbus Regional Office
Rhodes State Office Tower
30 East Broad Street, 4th Floor
Columbus, OH 43215
Phone: 614-466-5928 Fax: 614-466-6250

Dayton Regional Office
40 W. 4th Centre
40 W. 4th Street, Suite 1900
Dayton, OH 45402
Phone: 937-285-6500 Fax: 937-285-6606

Toledo Regional Office
One Government Center
640 Jackson Street, Suite 936
Toledo, OH 43604
Phone: 419-245-2900 Fax: 419-245-2668

 

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

File a charge of discrimination regarding employment by contacting any of the EEOC’s field offices. You can begin the process online or via telephone, but you will need to finalize your charge by mail or in person at a field office. You may wish to contact DRO or a private attorney for advice prior to filing a charge of discrimination. You have 300 days from the date the discrimination occurred to file a charge, so it is important to follow up quickly once you have decided to file.

EEOC Cincinnati District Office
John W. Peck Federal Office Building
550 Main Street, 10th Floor
Cincinnati, OH 45202
voice 800-669-4000
TTY 800-669-6820
ASL Video phone 844-234-5122

 

EEOC Cleveland District Office
Anthony J. Celebrezze Federal Building
1240 E. 9th Street, Suite 3001
Cleveland, OH 44199
For general inquiries or to begin the process of filing a complaint of discrimination, please call 1-800-669-4000.
If you have existing business with the Cleveland Field Office or know the name of the person you are trying to reach, please call 1-866-408-8075.
TTY 1-800-669-6820
ASL Video phone 844-234-5122

 

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
131 M Street, NE
Washington, DC 20507
202-663-4900 / (TTY) 202-663-4494
Web http://www.eeoc.gov

 

U.S. Department of Justice

For Complaints about ADA Title II and Title III violations, go to the U.S. Department of Justice's - ADA webpage: http://www.ada.gov/

For information about the U.S. DOJ Disability Rights Division, visit https://www.justice.gov/crt/disability-rights-section. To file a complaint online, see https://www.ada.gov/complaint/.

For more information about filing a complaint, call the ADA Hotline at 800-514-0301 or 800-514-0383 (TDD). The ADA Hotline also provides general information on the ADA, answers to specific technical questions, and free ADA materials. Materials are available in various formats for people with disabilities, and in some other languages.

 

U.S. Department of Education

Takes complaints for all programs, services, activities related to elementary, secondary, post-secondary education and libraries. Administrative complaints with the U.S. Department of Education must typically be filed within 180 days of the discriminatory act.

U.S. Department of Education
Office for Civil Rights
Cleveland Office
1350 Euclid Avenue
Suite 325
Cleveland, OH 44115
Telephone: 216-522-4970
Facsimile: 216-522-2573
Email: OCR.Cleveland@ed.gov
W
ebsite: https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/index.html

You can learn how to file a complaint on their website and fill out the complain form here.

 

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