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Your Rights and the Law

Your Rights

Federal and state laws are in place to protect individuals with disabilities from discrimination. These laws were designed to give equal access and opportunities to all persons with disabilities, including individuals with hearing loss.

For an individual with a hearing loss, equal access typically means effective communication. Effective communication usually requires some form of accommodation and due to the diverse needs of deaf and hard of hearing individuals, the specific accommodation will depend on the individual.

What this all means is that you have the right to effective communication when it comes to employment, education, housing, government as well as public and private services. For more information on the specific laws and what they cover, please see the Federal Law and State Law sections below.


FEDERAL LAWS

Brief Summary of Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

Signed into law in 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act is the nation’s first comprehensive civil rights law for people with disabilities. ADA prohibits discrimination in the following areas.

Employment

Title I prohibits discrimination by employers against qualified individuals with disabilities in all aspects of employment. It also requires covered employers to provide reasonable accommodations for applicants and employees with disabilities. Reasonable accommodation includes, for example, restructuring jobs, making work-sites and workstations accessible, modifying schedules, providing services such as interpreters, and modifying equipment and policies.

For more information or to file a complaint related to employment, contact:

Equal Employment Opportunities Commission
(800) 669-4000 (voice)
(800) 669-6820 (TTY)
www.eeoc.gov

State and Local Government/Public Services

Title II requires that all services, programs and activities of state and local governments must be open and accessible to people with disabilities. Under Title II, public services (which include state and local government agencies, the National Railroad Passenger Corporation, and other commuter authorities) cannot deny services to people with disabilities or deny participation in programs or activities that are available to people without disabilities. In addition, public transportation systems, such as public transit buses, must be accessible to individuals with disabilities.

Title II covers but is not limited to:

Jails, prisons and other correctional facilities Courts Police and Fire Departments
Town meetings Drivers Licensing Social Services

For more information or to file a complaint regarding Title II, contact:

U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Disability Rights Section - NYAV
Washington, D.C. 20530
(800) 514-0301 (voice)
(800) 514-0383 (TTY)
www.ada.gov

Public Accommodations

Title III requires that all services offered by private entities dealing with the public—such as restaurants, theaters and museums must be offered equally to people with disabilities. This can include removing some physical barriers, or providing goods and services in an alternative manner when barriers cannot be removed. All newly-altered or newly-constructed facilities must be made accessible in accordance with all applicable accessibility standards.

Title III covers but is not limited to:

Hotels Restaurants Theaters
Doctors Hospitals Lawyers
Amusements Parks Schools Sports facilities

For more information or to file a complaint regarding Title III, contact:

U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Disability Rights Section - NYAV
Washington, D.C. 20530
(800) 514-0301 (voice)
(800) 514-0383 (TTY)
www.ada.gov

Telecommunications

Title IV requires companies that offer telephone service for the general public to provide telecommunication relay services to people with speech or hearing disabilities.

For more information or to file a complaint related to Title IV, contact:

Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20554
(888) 225-5322 (Voice)
(888) 835-5322 (TTY)
www.fcc.gov/cgb/dro

Miscellaneous

Title V addresses miscellaneous issues concerning administration and implementation of the ADA regulations.


OTHER FEDERAL LAWS

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is a federal law. This law requires that jobs, education and services which are provided by agencies and institutions that receive federal funding must be accessible to all persons regardless of disability. This includes public elementary and high schools, colleges and universities, hospitals, police and fire departments, state and city governments, libraries, museums and zoos, etc. Accommodations may include providing interpreters, assistive listening devices, or other equipment.

For information on how to file 504 complaints with the appropriate agency, contact:

U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Disability Rights Section - NYAV
Washington, D.C. 20530
(800) 514-0301 (voice)
(800) 514-0383 (TTY)
www.ada.gov

Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act

Section 508 establishes requirements for electronic and information technology developed, maintained, procured, or used by the Federal government. Section 508 requires Federal electronic and information technology to be accessible to people with disabilities, including employees and members of the public.

For more information on section 508, contact:

U.S. General Services Administration
Office of Government-wide Policy IT Accessiblity & Workflow Division (ITAW)
1800 F Street, N.W.
Room 2222 - MEC:ITAW
Washington, DC 20405-0001
(202) 501-4906 (voice)
www.gsa.gov/portal/content/105254

U.S. Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board
1331 F Street, N.W., Suite 1000
Washington, DC 20004-1111
www.access-board.gov
800-872-2253 (voice)
800-993-2822 (TTY)

Fair Housing Act

The Fair Housing Act, as amended in 1988, prohibits housing discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status, and national origin. Its coverage includes private housing, housing that receives Federal financial assistance, and State and local government housing. It is unlawful to discriminate in any aspect of selling or renting housing or to deny a dwelling to a buyer or renter because of the disability of that individual, an individual associated with the buyer or renter, or an individual who intends to live in the residence. Other covered activities include, for example, financing, zoning practices, new construction design, and advertising.

For more information or to file a complaint, contact:

Office of Compliance and Disability Rights Division
Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
451 7th Street, S.W. , Room 5242
Washington, D.C. 20410
(800) 669-9777 (voice)
(800) 927-9275 (TTY)
www.hud.gov/offices/fheo

Air Carrier Access Act

The Air Carrier Access Act prohibits discrimination in air transportation by domestic and foreign air carriers against qualified individuals with physical or mental impairments. It applies only to air carriers that provide regularly scheduled services for hire to the public. Requirements address a wide range of issues including boarding assistance and certain accessibility features in newly built aircraft and new or altered airport facilities. People may enforce rights under the Air Carrier Access Act by filing a complaint with the U.S. Department of Transportation, or by bringing a lawsuit in Federal court.

For more information or to file a complaint, contact:

Aviation Consumer Protection Division, C-75
U.S. Department of Transportation
1200 New Jersey Avenue, S.E.
Washington, D.C. 20590
(202) 366-2220 (voice)
(202) 366-0511 (TTY)
(800) 778-4838 (voice)
(800) 455-9880 (TTY)
airconsumer.ost.dot.gov

Voting Accessibility for the Elderly and Handicapped Act

The Voting Accessibility for the Elderly and Handicapped Act of 1984 generally requires polling places across the United States to be physically accessible to people with disabilities for federal elections. Where no accessible location is available to serve as a polling place, a political subdivision must provide an alternate means of casting a ballot on the day of the election. This law also requires states to make available registration and voting aids for disabled and elderly voters, including information by TTYs (also known as TDDs) or similar devices.

For more information, contact:

U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Voting Section - 1800 G
Washington, D.C. 20530
(800) 253-3931 (voice/TTY)

National Voter Registration Act

The National Voter Registration Act of 1993, also known as the "Motor Voter Act," makes it easier for all Americans to exercise their fundamental right to vote. One of the basic purposes of the Act is to increase the historically low registration rates of minorities and persons with disabilities that have resulted from discrimination. The Motor Voter Act requires all offices of State-funded programs that are primarily engaged in providing services to persons with disabilities to provide all program applicants with voter registration forms, to assist them in completing the forms, and to transmit completed forms to the appropriate State official.

For more information, contact:

U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Voting Section - 1800 G
Washington, D.C. 20530
(800) 253-3931 (voice/TTY)
www.usdoj.gov/crt/voting

Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act

The Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA) authorizes the U.S. Attorney General to investigate conditions of confinement at State and local government institutions such as prisons, jails, pretrial detention centers, juvenile correctional facilities, publicly operated nursing homes, and institutions for people with psychiatric or developmental disabilities. Its purpose is to allow the Attorney General to uncover and correct widespread deficiencies that seriously jeopardize the health and safety of residents of institutions. The Attorney General does not have authority under CRIPA to investigate isolated incidents or to represent individual institutionalized persons.

For more information or to bring a matter to the Department of Justice's attention, contact:

U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Special Litigation Section - PHB
Washington, D.C. 20530
(877) 218-5228 (voice/TTY)
www.justice.gov/crt

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) (formerly called P.L. 94-142 or the Education for all Handicapped Children Act of 1975) requires public schools to make available to all eligible children with disabilities a free appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment appropriate to their individual needs.

For more information, contact:

Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20202-7100
(202) 245-7468 (voice/TTY)
www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/osers/osep

General Sources of Disability Rights Information

ADA Information Line
(800) 514-0301 (voice)
(800) 514-0383 (TTY)
www.ada.gov

Regional Disability and Business
Technical Assistance Centers
(800) 949-4232 (voice/TTY)
www.adata.org


Kentucky State Laws

KRS 278.548 Dual Party Relay Service

Kentucky is required by law to make telephone service accessible to persons who are deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired effective October 1, 1991.

KRS 344.500 Provision of Interpreters

A qualified interpreter shall be appointed in any proceeding before a board, commission, agency, or licensing authority of the state or any of its political subdivisions, when the principal party in interest or a witness is deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired.

KRS 156.160 and KRS 164.4785 American Sign Language

American Sign Language (ASL) may be taught for foreign language credit in public schools and institutions of higher education. ASL shall also meet foreign language entrance requirements for institutions of higher education.

KRS 163.525 Telecommunications Access Program

A program to distribute specialized telecommunications equipment was established by the 1994 General Assembly. This specialized equipment is provided to persons who are deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired to provide equal access to telecommunications.

KRS 213.046 High Risk Registry

A hearing risk certificate shall accompany the certificate of birth and shall be completed on all babies born in Kentucky. The certificate is provided by the Commission for Children with Special Health Care Needs and contains questions pertaining to hearing loss in newborn infants.

KRS Chapter 12

All agencies of state government shall promulgate regulations to assure that services are accessible to persons who are deaf or hard of hearing. Interpreters must be provided as well as other reasonable accommodations.

KRS 210 Mental Health Advisory Committee

An advisory committee has been established to assist and advise the Department of Mental Health/Mental Retardation Services in making their services accessible to persons who are deaf or hard of hearing. The committee is permanent and shall consist of sixteen persons, at least eight members must be deaf or hard of hearing.

KRS 309.300-319 Interpreter Licensure Laws

This law requires licensure for interpreters for deaf and hard of hearing persons, based on national certification. It also created the Kentucky Board of Interpreters for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.

KRS 167.015 KSD as Statewide Educational Resource Center on Deafness

This law established the Kentucky School for the Deaf as the Statewide Educational Resource Center on Deafness and the Kentucky School for the Blind as the Statewide Educational Resource Center of the Blind which means that they can provide technical assistance and resources to educational agencies and parents and permits them to enter into collaborative agreements with local schools and public and private agencies to provide programs to students.

KRS 304.17A-132 Coverage for hearing aids

This law requires health benefit plans to provide coverage for hearing aids and related services for persons under 18 years of age and requires all health benefit plans for state employees to provide coverage for hearing aids and related services for dependents under 18 years of age.

KRS 216.2970 Auditory Screening of infants

This law requires that all hospitals and alternative birthing centers with at least forty births a year provide auditory screening for all infants.