Approximately 600,000 Virginians are deaf or hard of hearing and have difficulty communicating with hearing persons. When the need arises for medical services—whether it be a trip to the doctor’s office or an emergency admission to the hospital—the anxiety, fear, humiliation, and distress ordinarily accompanying these situations is even more severe for someone who is deaf or hard of hearing.
Sometimes, medical service providers fail or refuse to provide qualified sign language interpreters to their patients who are deaf or hard of hearing and need an interpreter to communicate. When this happens, the medical service providers illegally discriminate against these patients. Congress sought to end this type of discrimination by passing the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). In fact, Congress specifically recognized health care as one of the critical areas in which individuals with disabilities are routinely the victims of discrimination.