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ADA Center News on New ADA Regulations on Effective Communication

New ADA Regulations and Effective Communication 

 From DBTAC Mid-Atlantic ADA Center, Fall 2011 Newsletter

The Department of Justice’s new ADA regulations for state and local government agencies (Title II) and public accommodations (Title III) include a variety of revised and updated provisions related to communicating effectively with individuals who are blind or have low vision, people with speech impairments, and people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

The ADA’s fundamental requirement remains for businesses and agencies to ensure effective communication by providing appropriate auxiliary aids and services; updates range from expanded definitions that reflect advances in technology to clarification about how businesses and agencies facilitate face-to-face interactions.


  • The new rules include some revised definitions and some that are brand new. The definition of “auxiliary aids and services” includes additional examples, ranging from low-tech to high-tech. “Exchange of written notes, and “accessible electronic and information technology” have been added to the list of things that might be appropriate to use for communicating with individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing.


  •  Additionally, while the old definition referred to “telecommunications devices for deaf persons (TDDs),” the new rule is both more expansive and more up-to-date in referring to “voice, text, and video-based telecommunications products and systems, including text telephones (TTYs), videophones, and captioned telephones, or equally effective telecommunications devices.” The term “real-time” has also been added to the references to captioning and computer-aided transcription.


  • The list of examples of aids or services that might be needed to communicate with people who are blind or have low vision now includes screen reader and magnification software, optical readers, and secondary auditory programs (SAP). Braille “displays” have been added to Braille “materials.”


  • While a “qualified reader” was already included in the list of examples, the term itself was never further defined. The new rule now defines a qualified reader as “a person who is able to read effectively, accurately, and impartially using any necessary specialized vocabulary.” Qualified readers may be needed in a variety of situations, including the administration of written tests to individuals who are blind or have low vision.


  • The definition of a “qualified interpreter” has itself been expanded with another list of examples to emphasize that interpreters include not only sign language interpreters, but also oral transliterators and cued-language transliterators. The definition also clarifies that interpreters may work “via a video remote interpreting (VRI) service or an on-site appearance.”


  • Another new definition has been added for VRI, which is “an interpreting service that uses video conference technology over dedicated lines or wireless technology offering high-speed, wide-bandwidth video connection that delivers high-quality video images.”



For more information about DOJ’s rules – including Video Remote Interpreting, Communication and Companions, Automated Telephone Systems:

For a link to the new regulations revising Title II and Title III: