MAY 2 1994

The Honorable Ted Stevens United States Senate Washington, D.C. 20510-6025 Dear Senator Stevens: This is in response to your inquiry on behalf of a constituent regarding the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for businesses to accommodate persons with hearing impairments. Most privately owned businesses offering goods and services to the public are places of public accommodations within the meaning of title III of the ADA. Title III requires places of public accommodations to provide appropriate auxiliary aids and services to persons with hearing impairments where necessary to ensure effective communication, unless doing so would cause an undue burden or a fundamental alteration to the nature of the goods or services offered by the public accommodation. The Department of Justice's title III regulation lists some examples of auxiliary aids and services for persons with hearing impairments: qualified interpreters, notetakers, computer-aided transcription services, written materials, telephone handset amplifiers, assistive listening devices, assistive listening systems, telephones compatible with hearing aids, closed caption decoders, open and closed captioning, telecommunications devices for deaf persons (TDD's), and videotext displays. The public accommodation should consult with individuals with disabilities in determining what auxiliary aids or services are necessary to provide effective communication in a particular circumstance, depending on the nature of the communication involved and the needs of the particular individual with a hearing impairment. If providing a particular auxiliary aid or service would cause an undue burden, i.e., significant difficulty or expense, the public accommodation must provide an alternative aid or service that does not cause such a burden and that provides effective communication to the maximum extent possible. FOIA 01-03012

-2In addition to the general requirements for providing appropriate auxiliary aids and services, there are specific requirements for particular types of businesses. For example, public accommodations, such as hotels and hospitals which offer customers or patients the opportunity to make outgoing telephone calls on more than an incidental convenience basis, must provide TDD's upon request to individuals with hearing impairments. Similarly, hotels and hospitals that provide televisions must provide caption decoders upon request. In new construction and alterations of places of public accommodations, the ADA requires strict compliance with the ADA Standards for Accessible Design (ADA Standards). The Standards require certain design features to meet the needs of persons with hearing impairments. Such features include visual alarm systems, TDD's and hearing aid compatible telephones, and assistive listening systems in assembly areas. I have enclosed copies of the title III regulation, which includes the ADA Standards, and the title III Technical Assistance Manual. I hope this information is helpful to you in responding to your constituent. Sincerely,

Deval L. Patrick Assistant Attorney General Civil Rights Division Enclosures 01-03013