New England ADA Center
March Newsletter

ADA Question of the Month - Do You Know the Answer?
Toothbursh Question : I am a dentist who received a request from a new patient who is deaf to provide a sign language interpreter for her appointment. I investigated costs and I would be paying more for the interpreter than I would receive from her appointment. What are my obligations?

The answer is at the end of the newsletter.

Image: Creative Commons.

Institute for Human Centered Design to Sponsor Educational Sessions at MED|Ed Facilities® Boston, April 4 and 5
MEDED Facilities Boston Attendees to MED|Ed Facilities┬« Boston can attend  new educational sessions produced and sponsored by Institute for Human Centered Design (IHCD), April 4 and 5, 2017 at the Seaport World Trade Center Boston. The sessions will focus on social sustainability and universal/human-centered design and include:
  • The ADA Standards for Accessible Design: What Medical Centers Need to Know
  • Human-Centric Lighting - What Does it Mean and How do We Provide it in Practice?
  • Welcoming Campuses, Wayfinding That Works for Everyone
  • Comprehensive Analysis of Accessibility Compliance as a Tool for Diversity and Inclusion in Higher Education: Case Studies 

Presenters will include, among others, IHCD's Executive Director, Valerie Flectcher, and the New England Americans with Disability Act Center's Stacy Hart. Complete descriptions are available at

Attend the ReelAbilities Film Festival in Boston, March 29-April 6
RealAbilities Film Festival Boston 2017 ReelAbilities Film Festival Boston film topics include abilities as seen through autism, wheelchair basketball, Asperger's, a tandem cycling adventure, blindness, and more. Films are screening at locations in Boston, Cambridge and Somerville, among others. 

Massachusetts Office on Disability Call for Art
Mass Office on Disability Call for Art The Massachusetts Office on Disability (MOD) will be accepting submissions for their 2017 Call for Art and juried art exhibition through August 1, 2017. 

Talented Massachusetts residents of all abilities who are 18 and over can submit an original work on the theme of "Breaking Barriers."

Deborah A. Ryan Elected Chair of the U.S. Access Board
Deborah A Ryan The U.S. Access Board unanimously elected Board Member Deborah A. Ryan of Boston as its new Chair on March 15.  Ryan stated, "It's a privilege to lead an agency that plays such a vital role in ensuring accessibility, and I look forward to helping the Board advance its work and meet its goals in the months ahead."

Photo: Deborah A. Ryan, Chair. Source, U.S. Access Board.

News From Outside New England
Registration Now Open for the 2017 National ADA Symposium, May 14 - 17 in Chicago
The National ADA Symposium is the largest conference on the ADA! Eighty Breakout Sessions and Pre-Conference Sessions offer learning opportunities for everyone involved with the ADA. Visit for conference information and online registration.

Call For Presentations - 2017 Mid-Atlantic ADA Update Conference Deadline: March 27
Mid Atlantic ADA Center The Mid-Atlantic ADA Center invites interested speakers to share their experience and expertise with their colleagues at the 24th annual Mid-Atlantic ADA Update conference on September 14 and 15, 2017 at the Sheraton Tysons Hotel, Tysons Corner, Virginia.

Visit the website for more information.

New Television Documentary 'Becoming Helen Keller' in Development
Helen Keller at Radcliffe CollegeThink you've learned all there is to know about Helen Keller?  Many people know something about her extraordinary life, but for most, there is much more to learn. 

Becoming Helen Keller will be an exciting new television documentary biography. It is a co-production of Straight Ahead Pictures, American Masters-WNET/Thirteen, and WETA Washington, D.C. 

Photo: Helen Keller at Radcliffe College, where she graduated with honors. Source, public domain.

'Not much has changed': Actress Marlee Matlin on Hollywood's Portrayal of People with Disabilities
Actress Marlee Matlin It's been 30 years since Marlee Matlin won an Oscar for best actress in Children of a Lesser God.  This year, she was honored with the Morton E. Ruderman Award in Inclusion for her advocacy for people with disabilities. But movie rolls for actors with disabilities are still the rare exception. 

Photo: Actress Marlee Matlin. Source, Creative Commons.

US Representative Jeff Denham (R-Turlock) Introduces Bill to Combat Drive-By Lawsuits, Protect Main Street
U.S. Representative Jeff DenhamU.S. Representative Jeff Denham introduced the ADA Education and Reform Act (HR620), a bill to combat frivolous lawsuits accusing small businesses of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The proposed Act gives business owners and operators 120 days to respond to an ADA violation complaint and correct it before being held civilly or criminally liable. 

Read more.

Answer to the ADA Question of the Month

QuestionI am a dentist who received a request from a new patient who is deaf to provide a sign language interpreter for her appointment. I investigated costs and I would be paying more for the interpreter than I would receive from her appointment. What are my obligations?

Answer: Title III of the ADA (the title that applies to businesses and non-profit organizations), requires that you "... furnish appropriate auxiliary aids and services where necessary to ensure effective communication with individuals with disabilities." You don't necessarily have to provide a sign language interpreter if there are other means of ensuring effective communication, such as written notes, texting or typing on a device.  The appropriate auxiliary aid or service will vary in accordance with the method of communication used by the individual; the nature, length, and complexity of the communication involved; and the context in which the communication is taking place. You should consult with the patient but ultimately the decision is yours. If a determination is made that an interpreter is needed, you must provide the interpreter unless the provision would be an undue burden (significant difficulty or expense).  You must look at your entire budget and not base the decision on the amount you are receiving for the patient's appointment. Tax credits and deductions are available to offset the cost.

For more ADA questions and answers, visit our web page.

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New England ADA Center, a project of the Institute for Human Centered Design