The Justice Department announced today a settlement with Franciscan St. James Health (St. James), to ensure that patients and companions who are deaf or hard of hearing receive sign language interpreters and other services necessary to ensure effective communication, in compliance with Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Under the agreement, St. James will pay $70,000 in damages to a patient who is deaf who was denied a sign language interpreter throughout her four day stay in the hospital. The settlement also requires that St. James provide auxiliary aids and services, including sign language interpreters, to people who are deaf or hard of hearing within prescribed time frames and free of charge; designate an ADA Administrator; utilize their grievance resolution systems to investigate disputes regarding effective communication with deaf and hard of hearing patients; post notices of their effective communication policy; and train hospital personnel on the effective communication reqwuirements of the ADA. The settlement is part of the Department's Barrier-Free Health Care Initiative, a partnership of the Civil Rights Division and U. S. Attorney's offices across the nation to ensure that people with disabilities, including those who are deaf or hard of hearing, who have HIV, or who have mobility disabilities, have equal access to medical services.
To find out more about this settlement agreement or about the ADA, please visit our ADA website at www.ada.gov. For more information on the Barrier-Free Health Care Initiative visit www.ada.gov/usao-agreements. Those interested in finding out more about the ADA may also call the Justice Department's toll-free ADA Information Line at 800-514-0301 or 800-514-0383 (TDD).