U.S. Attorney’s Office Reminds Healthcare Providers of ADA’s Effective Communication Requirements

From Eastern District of Virginia: Complete Post through this link…

The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia announced today that it has sent a Dear Colleagues Letter reminding healthcare providers of the effective communication requirements under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). To strengthen awareness and understanding of these requirements, the U.S. Attorney’s Office is inviting the public, including personnel at healthcare providers, to an informational meeting that will be held on June 6, 2023, at 1 p.m.

When Congress passed the ADA, it recognized that discrimination against individuals with disabilities persists in critical areas, including health services, which often involve high stakes communication. Through the ADA, Congress established a national mandate for the elimination of discrimination against individuals with disabilities by providing strong and enforceable standards. In support of these goals, the ADA and its implementing regulations require covered entities, including healthcare providers, to furnish appropriate auxiliary aids and services to individuals with communication disabilities without imposing a surcharge on the individual, including qualified sign language interpreters, computer-aided transcription services, and effective methods of making visually delivered materials available to individuals who are blind or have low vision.

The ADA requirements apply to a variety of healthcare providers, including those operated by either private entities or state and local governments, such as hospitals, nursing facilities, urgent care providers, physicians, dentists, optometrists, durable medical equipment retailers, infirmaries located at institutions of higher learning and correctional facilities, and local mental health agencies. Further, the ADA applies to all services that covered entities provide, including in-person medical services, telehealth appointments, electronic kiosks, and websites.

The Dear Colleagues Letter explains that “[p]ursuant to the ADA, healthcare providers are required to ensure that communication with people with disabilities is as effective as communication with people without disabilities.” Further, “healthcare providers may not decline to provide treatment to an individual solely because they have a disability and may need auxiliary aids and services.”

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