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Do I have to pay for an interpreter for every patient who is Deaf?

Q: I am opening a new dental practice. Do I have to pay for an interpreter for every patient who is Deaf?

A: Covered entities must provide aids and services when needed to communicate effectively with people who have communication disabilities. The key to deciding what aid or service is needed to communicate effectively is to consider the nature, length, complexity, and context of the communication, as well as the person’s normal method(s) of communication.

Auxiliary aids and services can include things such as qualified sign language interpreters and note takers, cued-speech interpreters, and real-time captioning, as well as other methods. Some easy solutions work in relatively simple and straightforward situations, such as the case of a patient coming in to pay a bill. Other situations may be more complex and need broader solutions such as when a patient needs dental procedures done, and financing and options must be discussed.

If you have more questions about this or if you need to know more about something else under the ADA, please contact the Northeast ADA Center at 800-949-4232, by email at, or by submitting a question through our website.


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