Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

Americans with Disabilities ActInformation in this section is provided as a courtesy on behalf of MT&A.  The Americans with Disabilities Act covers all individuals with disabilities and is lengthy.  References pertain to the requirement under the ADA to provide sign language interpreters.

The purpose of the ADA law is to provide equal access to all individuals, even those with disabilities (including D/deaf, hard of hearing).  Sign language interpreters are the most preferred means of equal access to communication.  However, ask the D/deaf consumer which method best suits their needs.  The D/deaf consumer has the right to request whichever method best suits their individual needs.

Effective Communication

The ADA requires effective communication be provided through a sign language Interpreter who is a “fluent” sign language interpreter.  The ADA does not specify the requirement that a sign language interpreter need to be certified or licensed.  However, Missouri and Illinois Law do require that all sign language interpreters be certified and licensed to work in their states.  Many other states have similar laws regarding sign language interpreters. RESOURCE:

Offsetting the Costs

Where it is typically natural in some businesses to offset the costs they incur by passing it on to customers, this is not appropriate with sign language interpreters. The cost of a sign language interpreter cannot be charged to the Deaf or Hard of Hearing user.  The ADA specifically states this in the section referring to “surcharges” (section III-4.1400). Surcharges are not permitted.

Undue Burden

Undue burden is considered when the price of paying for the sign language interpreter costs more than the business’s complete assets. This is not applicable if the price to provide a sign language interpreter costs more than you receive from the consumer’s business.  Please review this resource for more information.


It is critical for businesses to adhere to the Americans with Disabilities Act so as to avoid a lawsuit.  Even more importantly, however, a business that cares for its customers will provide access for those of all languages and backgrounds.  Read more in our blog about Interacting with Deaf Consumers. Please contact MT&A sign language interpreting services if you require further guidance on meeting accessibility requirements for Deaf and Hard of Hearing clientele.


Additional Resources:

ADA: Technical Assistance Manual

ADA: Pamphlet for Small Business in relation to using sign language interpreters

ADA: Communication in Hospital Settings using sign language interpreters

ADA: Standards of Practice: Sign Language Interpreters in Healthcare (applicable to other markets as well)

MISSOURI COMMISSION FOR THE DEAF & HARD OF HEARING (MCDHH) – governs sign language interpreters in Missouri

ILLINOIS COMMISSION FOR THE DEAF & HARD OF HEARING (IDHHC) – governs sign language interpreters in Illinois


Photo Credit:

MT & Associates | Sign Language Interpreting Practice BBB Business Review