FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CR MONDAY, JUNE 29, 1998 (202) 616-2765 TDD (202) 514-1888

VIRGINIA DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH TO SETTLE ALLEGATIONS

OF VIOLATING THE AMERICANS WITH DISABILITES ACT

WASHINGTON, D.C. Emergency medical technicians (EMT's) with hearing disabilities will now be able to take training courses offered by the Virginia Department of Health, under an agreement reached today with the Justice Department. The agreement resolves a complaint filed with the Justice Department alleging that the Virginia Department of Health's Office of Emergency Medical Services (EMS) violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). It alleged that EMS failed to provide effective communication to EMT's with hearing impairments who were trying to obtain training credits to get certified or re certified as EMT's. "Qualified EMT's should have the same chance to attend training and certification programs sponsored by the state," said Bill Lann Lee, Acting Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. "Through effective communication, EMT's with disabilities can improve their skills, and advance in their careers." Under the agreement the state will: provide sign language interpreters in training programs with program moderators;

transcribe video training programs required for certification; and,

publicize the availability of interpreters and

transcripts and provide them free of charge to people with hearing impairments.

Title II of the ADA requires state and local governments to make their communication with people with hearing disabilities as effective as communication with nondisabled people. This is the first agreement the Department of Justice has reached regarding accessibility of state training programs to people with hearing impairments. Earlier this year, the Department reached agreements with Fairfax, Virginia, and Prince Georges County, Maryland, to allow qualified people with hearing impairments to serve as volunteer firefighters and technicians. In 1997, the Department entered a consent decree with Nashville and Davidson County, Tennessee, requiring the county to hire an individual with a hearing impairment for an EMT position, and hire qualified individuals with hearing impairments for EMT positions in the future. Policies like the one required by today's agreement will help ensure that these individuals can succeed in their jobs. Those who are interested in finding out more about the ADA can access the Department's ADA home page on the World Wide Web at http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/ada/adahoml.htm or call the ADA information line at (800) 514-0301 (voice) or (800) 514-0383 (TTY). ###

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