Today, roughly 11.5 million people are either deaf or hard of hearing in the United States. This raises the question, are housing providers required to provide translation services or an ASL interpreter as a reasonable accommodation? Join us as we share insights and tips to help you stay fair housing friendly.
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Envision this. A couple, along with their adult daughter, just entered your leasing office. The daughter informs you that her parents are interested in taking a tour but then states that her parents are deaf, and since she can’t stay, she requests that you provide an ASL interpreter. Now what?
What is required of a housing provider in regard to translation services?
When a deaf or hard-of-hearing individual comes into your office, whether they are a prospect or a resident, you are required to be able to communicate with this person. They may request an ASL interpreter, which now makes this a reasonable accommodation request. Keep in mind that you do not need to process this request as you would some others because the need is readily apparent.
Also, another important point to remember is that you cannot require that they provide or bring along an interpreter. The responsibility is solely of the housing provider to make this accommodation.
Does a housing provider automatically have to provide an ASL interpreter?
Securing an ASL interpreter at a moment’s notice may not be feasible. But this does not mean that there aren’t alternatives that you can offer. For example, you can offer to exchange written communication or utilize a whiteboard. Another excellent option would be to text.
While these may be time-consuming, they are the best alternative and may remove the need for an interpreter if the prospect or resident is happy to communicate this way.
Our goal as a housing provider should be to ensure that everyone has equal access to our services. Additional training can help staff know how to confidently handle situations like this and be prepared. Be sure to subscribe to our newsletter, so you don’t miss out on part two of this series as we dig even deeper into translation services.
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