HHS enforces equal access for people with hearing disabilities in New York and DC

Americas, February 14 2013

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has taken two important enforcement actions to ensure people who are deaf and hard of hearing  living in New York and Washington, D.C., have equal access to programs and services provided by local government agencies.

These agreements follow complaints that individuals were denied access to sign language interpreters in Cattaraugus County Department of Aging (CCDOA) in New York and the District of Columbia Children and Family Services Agency (DCCFSA).  OCR conducted investigations under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, which require that covered entities ensure effective communication for persons with disabilities.

“People have the right to equality when communicating with human service providers,” said OCR Director Leon Rodriguez. “My office will continue to enforce the law to ensure that agencies comply with their obligations.”

The CCDOA provides health care and social services to 5,000 county residents who are 60 and older. DCCFSA is a designated child welfare agency for the District of Columbia, providing services that include adoption, foster care, and protective services to more than 3,600 children under the age of 18 and their families. These agencies serve vulnerable populations who have the right to communicate effectively.

The resolution agreements can be found at: http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/civilrights/activities/agreements.

For more information, visit http://www.hhs.gov/ocr.

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