Title III of the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires private physical and mental healthcare providers to provide appropriate accommodations and ensure patients have full communication access.

All private healthcare facilities and providers, regardless of business size, are required to meet this obligation. Hospitals, nursing homes, psychiatric and psychological services, offices of private physicians, dentists, health maintenance organizations (HMOs) and health clinics are included among the healthcare providers covered by the ADA.

A healthcare facility may be asked to provide a qualified sign language interpreter when the consumer is a:

  • Deaf or hard of hearing patient
  • Deaf or hard of hearing significant other or relative
  • Deaf or hard of hearing person involved in the patient’s health care

A qualified interpreter is an interpreter who is able to interpret effectively, accurately, and impartially, both receptively and expressively, using any necessary specialized vocabulary. Eaton encourages interpreters working in healthcare settings to receive advanced training in interpreting complex medical terminology. Interpreters must hold a current RID certification to assure a minimum level of interpreting competence and must adhere to the NAD-RID Code of Professional Conduct.

All inpatient and outpatient services and activities open to patients or the public must also be accessible for Deaf participants. For example:

  • Emergency room services
  • Outreach services
  • Day programs
  • Residential programs
  • Classes
  • Support groups
  • Educational fairs
  • Assessments
  • Nutrition services
  • Counseling
  • Physical and Occupational therapy

With an interpreter, everyone involved will be able to to ask questions, express concerns, receive accurate and important information, and avoid frustrations which often arise with miscommunication.

Without interpreting services, medical staff risk:

  • Misunderstandings
  • Misdiagnosis
  • Prescribing inappropriate or even harmful medications

Similarly, patients may not understand spoken instructions, warnings or prescription guidelines.

Who Pays?

Mental Heath

  • Inpatient and outpatient settings
  • Peer-led settings (such as AA or self-help groups)
  • Outreach settings
  • Day programs
  • Private clinician’s offices
  • Clinic settings and emergency rooms
  • Forensic and court venues
  • Long-term residential care settings

To perform effectively in these settings, interpreters require knowledge about the diversity of mental healthcare environments, including the goals and norms of specific settings and interventions. Interpreters need to be familiar with the types of mental health professionals who are present in various settings, their roles, their communication goals and their treatment methodologies. Working in the mental healthcare field also entails specific legal and regulatory obligations which apply to interpreters as well as clinicians.

In the field of interpreting, appropriate credentials are an important indicator of an interpreter’s qualifications and Eaton requires that interpreters working in mental health settings hold current RID certification to assure the integrity of the process and compliance with the NAD-RID Code of Professional Conduct. It is also recommended that before working in mental health settings, interpreters receive advanced training in this area.

The mental healthcare field is broad and includes:

  • Psychiatric assessment and treatment
  • Group and individual psychotherapy
  • Counseling
  • Psychological testing
  • Substance abuse treatment
Who Pays?