What laws protect people with hearing loss?

David M. Vernick, MD
Ear, Nose & Throat (Otolaryngology)
People with hearing loss are protected from discrimination and are entitled to certain services under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act. The act prohibits employers from discriminating against job applicants and employees who are hard of hearing. And it requires businesses, government agencies, medical establishments, and service providers to remove barriers to people with hearing impairments.

In essence, institutions must enable people who are hard of hearing to communicate to the same degree as people with normal hearing. Telephone companies must provide telecommunications devices for the deaf, or TDDs, upon request at no extra charge. These devices allow deaf users to send and receive typed messages over the telephone. Hotels and other public accommodations are required to provide TDDs to guests, as are shopping malls, stadiums, hospital waiting rooms, airports, and any other building with more than four pay phones. Cellular phone providers must have cell phone models that are compatible with hearing aids and must allow consumers to test them before buying them.

The law requires businesses, government facilities, and federally funded hospitals to provide assistance in communicating, but the burden is on you to say what type of assistance you need. It can be an interpreter to help you understand medical information or something as simple as a pencil and paper to write down questions. If you stay overnight in a hospital that receives federal funds, the hospital must provide a TDD as well as television captioning.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.