U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division Office of the Assistant Attorney General Washington, D.C.


MAY 13 1992 Mr. Bert L. Bares Program Director Hearing-Impaired Outreach Montrose Clinic 3400 Montrose Blvd Suite 315 Houston, Texas 77266-6251 Dear Mr. Bares: Thank you for your letter concerning title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). In it, you asked for clarification of the obligations of public accommodations, including HIV service providers, to provide interpreting services. The ADA authorizes the Department to provide technical assistance to entities that are subject to the Act. This letter provides informal guidance to assist you in understanding how the ADA may apply to your organization. This technical assistance, however, does not constitute a determination by the Department of Justice of rights or responsibilities under the ADA and does not constitute a binding determination by the Department of Justice. We agree with your assertion that the roles of case manager and interpreter are very different, and that a case manager, who is also a certified interpreter, should not be asked to interpret in a situation where a client is involved. When an interpreter is required to ensure effective communication, the public accommodation must provide a qualified interpreter (S 36.303 of the Department's title III rule). A qualified interpreter, according to our title III rule, is one who is able to interpret "effectively, accurately, and impartially" (S 36.104) (emphasis added). Even a certified

interpreter may not be considered "qualified" for all situations. For instance, an interpreter may not be suitable, particularly in those situations where emotional or personal involvement or considerations of confidentiality, may adversely affect his or her ability to interpret effectively, accurately, and impartially (56 Fed. Reg. 35,544, 35,553 (July 26, 1991)). 01-00785 -2We also agree that if your Center refers a client to another agency for a particular service that is not offered by your Center, then the responsibility for providing an interpreter falls to that agency, not your Center. The agency receiving the referral may not refuse to offer the needed service simply because the client is deaf or because the agency would have to provide interpreting services to ensure effective communication. Finally, public accommodations that provide workshops, seminars, or support groups are subject to all of the requirements of title III, including the obligation to provide appropriate auxiliary aids and services to ensure effective communication. The fact that a deaf participant may be a client or employee of another agency does not exempt the public accommodation from complying with the title III requirements. Your letter states that your Center and other service providers all receive Federal funding. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, prohibits discrimination on the basis of handicap in federally assisted programs and activities. Like our title III rule, section 504 rules require the provision of appropriate auxiliary aids and services, including interpreting services, that are necessary to ensure effective communication (see e.g., 45 C.F.R. S 84.51(d) (Department of Health and Human Services' section 504 rule for federally assisted programs)). Enclosed are copies of our title III rule and title III technical assistance manual. I hope this information has been helpful. Sincerely,

Stewart B. Oneglia Chief Coordination and Review Section Civil Rights Division Enclosures (2)