The Justice Department announced today that it has reached a cooperative settlement agreement with the city of Henderson, Nev. under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
The Justice Department received complaints by individuals who are deaf that officers for the city of Henderson did not provide them with qualified sign language interpreters and other auxiliary aids and services when needed for effective communication. One of the complainants had been arrested and detained for two days in the Henderson detention facility, while the other was an alleged crime victim.
During the course of its investigation into the allegations, the department inquired whether the city of Henderson would be interested in resolving the matter voluntarily. The city expressed its full commitment to ensure compliance with the ADA.
The resulting settlement agreement includes some model ways to ensure people who are deaf or hard of hearing are able to communicate effectively with law enforcement. For instance, officers for Henderson will use a pictogram to ask whether a deaf or hard of hearing person requests a sign language interpreter: www.justice.gov/opa/images/sign-lang-small.gif .
Once the person expresses a need for a sign language interpreter, Henderson has agreed to provide one under most circumstances, usually within an hour of the request.
“People who are deaf or hard of hearing must be able to communicate clearly with law enforcement, whether they are crime victims, witnesses, arrestees, detainees or just members of the public,” said Jocelyn Samuels, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.
“This agreement provides an effective model for Nevada’s – and the nation’s – law enforcement communities to work with deaf and hard of hearing citizens. The people of Henderson should be proud of their city’s leadership, including Mayor Andy A. Hafen and Police Chief Patrick Moers,” said U.S. Attorney for the District of Nevada Daniel G. Bogden. “The commitments made by Henderson are simple and cost-effective; the city will be better able to protect public safety while complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act.”
Under the settlement, the city of Henderson will pay a total of $35,000 to the complainants. In addition, it will renew contracts with qualified sign language interpreters to ensure ready availability, train law enforcement officers, staff members, and volunteers on the ADA, take additional steps to notify the public of the city’s ADA Coordinator, post signs indicating the availability of sign language interpreters and other auxiliary aids and services for people who are deaf or hard of hearing, provide text telephones and volume control telephones, modify its handcuffing policies for people who use sign language or hand writing to communicate, stock and provide hearing aid and cochlear implant processor batteries in the detention facility, and adopt other policies consistent with the ADA.
For more information on the ADA and law enforcement, visit www.ada.gov. Those interested in finding out more about this settlement or the obligations of law enforcement under the ADA may also call the Justice Department’s toll-free ADA information line at 800-514-0301 or 800-514-0383 (TDD), or access its ADA website at www.ada.gov . ADA complaints may be filed by email to firstname.lastname@example.org .