Effective Communication under the Americans with Disabilities Act

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Overview

One of the central features of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is the need for public and private organizations to provide effective communication to people with disabilities. Without effective communication throughout the Workforce, people with disabilities can easily miss out on opportunities in education, training, and work.

It is important to consider how complex communication is and the context of the communication when working to determine how to make the communication most effective. For example, if you need to have a conversation with a job seeker about something that requires multiple steps, you need to make sure that you use a form of communication that is most effective for the job seeker so that they don’t miss any of the required steps. If an employer is going to interview a candidate for a job, then it is highly likely that the employer will need to provide the most effective form of communication for the candidate. A job interview is typically complex, and very important.

Auxiliary Aids and Services

The ADA states that organizations need to provide Auxiliary Aids and Services to people with disabilities to make sure that communication is effective. These Aids and Services can take many forms, depending on how someone’s disability affects their ability to communicate and what works best to help that person communicate.

A Few Examples of Auxiliary Aids and Services include:

  1. Large print or Braille versions of print material
  2. Personal listening devices that amplify a speaker’s voice
  3. TTY for telephone calls
  4. Closed captioning for videos and transcription for audio
  5. Real time captioning for meetings or presentations
  6. Accessible electronic and information technology, such as websites, Word documents, and PDFs
  7. And much more

Primary Consideration

Public sector organizations, like state agencies, public schools at all levels, and cities must make sure that they give primary consideration to the preference of the person that they communicate with. What does this mean?

People with disabilities that affect their ability to send or receive communication often use assistive technology or other ways to communicate. Someone that is deaf or hard of hearing might best understand you if you use a speech amplification device instead of just raising your voice. Someone that has a form of low vision may most effectively read printed material that has been converted to a large font format. If you are in the public sector, then you need to use these preferred tools or techniques to be sure that the communication is most effective for the person with a disability.

Additional Resources

ADA National Network

Read more about effective communication.
www.adata.org/factsheet/communication

U.S. Department of Justice

Read more about effective communication.
www.ada.gov/pcatoolkit/chap3toolkit.htm