Sample Letter to Doctor, Nurse or Other Medical Professional Requesting a Sign Language Interpreter
Dear [Doctor, Nurse or other Medical Professional]:
I am a person with deafness or hearing loss. I ask that a sign language interpreter be present during my upcoming appointment with you so that we may communicate with one another about my health. I make this request pursuant to my right under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to effective communication in the professional offices of a health care provider, a hospital, or a pharmacy.1
As the professional offices of a health care provider, a hospital, or a pharmacy, you are an entity covered by the ADA.2 As a covered entity, you must take steps to ensure that you do not exclude, deny services to, segregate, or otherwise treat persons with disabilities differently from persons without disabilities. One way to ensure that persons with disabilities enjoy equal access to your facilities is to provide them with auxiliary aids and services.3 If you are concerned that providing the requested auxiliary aid or service would fuhttp://ftnt1ndamentally alter the nature of your services or would result in significant difficulty or expense, you must provide an alternative auxiliary aid or service that does not result in such alteration or burden.4 The auxiliary aid or service must be provided at no cost to the person with the disability.
As a person with deafness or hearing loss, I am considered a person with a disability under the ADA whom you must accommodate in your facilities.5 An appropriate auxiliary aid and/or service to ensure that I have equal access to your services is a qualified sign language interpreter.6 The U.S. Department of Justice has recognized that most health matters are sufficiently complex and lengthy that persons with communication barriers (such as persons with deafness and hearing loss) will almost certainly need an interpreter for effective communication.7 If for some reason you are considering providing an auxiliary aid or service other than the requested interpreter, please remember that you must provide one that ensures effective communication.8 For many people with hearing impairments, writing or typing notes and/or lip reading is not an effective means of communication. You are always strongly encouraged to consult with me to determine the most effective means of communication for me.9
If you have any questions or would like more information about your responsibility to accommodate persons with disabilities in your facility, please contact Disability Rights North Carolina at 1-877-235-4210 or consult with your attorney. Your professional association also may have information about accommodating clients with disabilities. You may also want to consult with your accountant about the tax benefits available to businesses that provide accommodations under the ADA.
1. See 42 U.S.C. § 12181(7)(F); 42 U.S.C. § 12182; 28 C.F.R. § 36.303(c).
2. See 42 U.S.C. § 12181(7)(F); 42 U.S.C. § 12182.
3. See 42 U.S.C. § 12182 (b)(2)(A).
4. See 26 C.F.R. § 36.303(a) & (f); 42 U.S.C. § 12182(b)(2)(A)(iii).
5. See 42 U.S.C. § 12102 (a disability is a physical or mental impairment substantially limiting one or more of a person’s major life activities, including hearing, speaking, and communicating).
6. See 42 U.S.C. § 12182(b)(2)(A)(iii); 42 U.S.C. § 12103 (1)(A); 28 C.F.R. § 36.303. A qualified interpreter is one who “is able to interpret effectively, accurately and impartially both receptively and expressively, using any necessary specialized vocabulary. See 28 C.F.R. § 36.104.
7. See 28 C.F.R. § 36, App. B.
8. See 28 C.F.R. § 36.303 (c).
9. See 28 C.F.R. § 36, Appendix B.
Learn more about your right to request a sign language interpreter in healthcare.
Sample Letter Requesting a Sign Language Interpreter
I am a person who is deaf. I will need a sign language interpreter during our upcoming meeting or appointment, and I am asking you to provide an interpreter.
You may not know this but my first language is American Sign Language (ASL). ASL is a different language from English. There is not a sign for every English word, and there is not an English word for every sign. It would be like you speaking English to me, but I speak Spanish.
I can read and write English, but not very well. If we write notes back and forth I may not understand what you are trying to say, and you may not understand what I am writing.
Also, deaf people often write the same way we sign – this means that we sometimes put our words in a different order than is used in English.
You may not be aware, but it is also my right to be able to communicate effectively with you. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires your office or business to accommodate people with disabilities. This includes providing interpreters if needed to communicate. If you are a private business and pay taxes, your business may be able to deduct a portion of the cost of the interpreter or other accommodations you provide to people with disabilities from your taxes. Talk to your accountant or tax professional if you want more information.
If this is the first time you have provided a sign language interpreter, the Division of Services for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing maintains a list of all sign language interpreters who are licensed and legally allowed to interpret in the State of North Carolina.
If you have questions about your obligation to provide sign language interpreters or communicate effectively with people who are deaf, contact the SE ADA Center Technical Assistance Hotline at 1-800-949-4232.
Please let me know in the next five (5) business days whether you will provide an interpreter.
[your contact information]