# 141 III-4.

3600 August 29, 1994

The Honorable Michael R. McNulty U.S. House of Representatives 217 Cannon Building Washington, D.C. 20515-3221 Dear Congressman McNulty: This letter is in response to your inquiry on behalf of your constituent, Kristin L. Woodward, workshop coordinator for the Colonie Art League, Inc. Ms. Woodward requested guidelines for the provision of interpreter services by her organization for workshops and courses. She further sought to clarify if this responsibility would extend to the group's regular monthly meetings. Ms. Woodward's query relates most directly to the auxiliary aids and services provisions of title III. Such aids and services must be provided by public accommodations to ensure "effective communication" for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing or who have impaired vision or speech. Under title III of the ADA, "public accommodations" are private entities who own, operate, lease, or lease to, a place of public accommodation. In the present instance, it would appear that both the Colonie Art League, Inc., and the contracted artist would have obligations as covered entities under title III for the proposed workshop. The auxiliary aids requirement is intended to be flexible, reflecting the variable nature of what constitutes effective communication. In addition to the specific nature of the disability involved, factors used to determine communication effectiveness in any given circumstance include the length, complexity, and significance of the information being exchanged. Under section 36.301(c) of the title III regulation, when an interpreter or other auxiliary aid or service is necessary to

ensure effective communication, the covered entity must absorb the cost of this aid or service, unless it would result in an undue burden. The term "undue burden" means "significant difficulty or expense." In determining whether the provision of an interpreter or other aid or service would result in an undue burden, covered entities should consider their overall financial resources. Ms. Woodward states that the provision of interpreter services for the workshop would place her organization in the position of operating at a financial loss. One should consider, however, the extent to which the interpreter costs could be shared contractually with the artist, who also has an independent obligation to provide auxiliary aids. Failure of the artist though, to fulfill his or her ADA or contractual obligations does not in any way relieve Colonie Art League, Inc., of its ADA responsibilities. In addition to cost-sharing, another option might be to consider raising the workshop fees slightly for all registrants to cover the cost of auxiliary aids and other measures to remove barriers to participation by people with disabilities. This same principle could be applied to monthly meetings. Another avenue to explore would be the availability of outside funding sources for interpreter services. Some states have monies available through health care or education funds that may be applied to interpreter services, if the activities are either therapeutic or educational in nature. The auxiliary aids provisions of title III of the ADA do not compel covered entities to comply with a unilateral determination of an individual with a disability that a particular interpreter, or any auxiliary aid, is essential to effective communication. Ideally, the covered entities and the individual would arrive at a mutually acceptable choice through a process of consultation. This specific point is illustrated in section III-4.3200 on page 28 of the Department of Justice's Title III Technical Assistance Manual. Additional relevant information may be found in the preamble discussion of section 36.303 on pages 35567-35568 of the title III regulation. These documents are enclosed. I trust that this information will be helpful in your response to your constituent.


Stuart J. Ishimaru Acting Assistant Attorney General Civil Rights Division Enclosures