On August 13, the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) – along with several other deaf and hard of hearing advocacy *organizations — filed joint comments with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), opposing many proposals created by HHS that would impact deaf and hard of hearing people’s ability to access healthcare free from discrimination. 

A few examples of what the proposals include:

  • decrease the number of healthcare businesses that must follow non-discrimination requirements
  • remove the requirement that healthcare businesses must let people know that it does not discriminate on the basis of disability. This would mean not having to let people know they have the right to request interpreter services or other auxiliary aids and services, how to receive them, and the process to file a complaint when their requests are not met.
  • seek comment on whether businesses with less than 15 employees to be excused from providing accommodations.
  • removing requirements on VRI quality standards; this could lead to lower quality VRI services for deaf and hard of hearing users.
  • remove the private right to sue for people who experience discrimination by a healthcare business; this would also limit remedies available to people who experience discrimination.

These proposals are problematic because if accepted, they would narrow and entirely remove the existing protections against discrimination; we oppose these proposals. Medical services are often denied to deaf and hard of hearing patients simply because of the communication barriers even with several federal laws and regulations requiring equal access! We cannot go backwards – deaf and hard of hearing people must have equal access to medical services without any barriers to healthcare. The HHS should not move forward with their proposed changes.

*The complete list of signatories of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Consumer Groups:

  • American Association of the Deaf-Blind (AADB)
  • American Deafness and Rehabilitation Association (ADARA)
  • Association of Late-Deafened Adults (ALDA)
  • California Coalition of Agencies Serving the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Inc. (CCASDHH)
  • Cerebral Palsy and Deaf Organization (CPADO)
  • Deaf Seniors of America (DSA)
  • Gallaudet University Alumni Association (GUAA)
  • Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA)
  • National Association of State Agencies of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (NASADHH)
  • National Association of the Deaf (NAD)
  • Northern Virginia Resource Center for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Persons (NVRC)
  • Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, Inc. (RID)
  • Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Inc. (TDI)