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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Virginia

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, October 16, 2014

Northern Virginia Company Agrees to Settle Claim for failure of Services to a Deaf Patient

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, announced yesterday a settlement under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) with Associated Foot & Ankle Centers of Northern Virginia, P.C. (AFAC), to ensure that it provides appropriate auxiliary aids and services to individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing when providing medical services.

The investigation began with a complaint alleging that AFAC violated the ADA by failing to provide appropriate auxiliary aids and services to a patient who is deaf during critical interactions relating to the patient’s medical care.  The complainant specifically alleged that AFAC failed to provide a sign language interpreter for multiple medical appointments and provided an individual who is not a qualified interpreter during other appointments.

“This settlement exemplifies our unwavering commitment to protect the rights of those who are deaf or hard of hearing and to ensure that they are able to communicate with health care professionals, especially when patients have complex interactions with medical providers,” said U.S. Attorney Boente.

The settlement agreement requires AFAC to pay $14,000 to the aggrieved individual and a $1,000 civil penalty to the United States; provide training to the podiatry practice’s staff on the requirements of the ADA; and adopt specific policies and procedures to ensure that auxiliary aids and services are provided promptly to patients and companions who are deaf or hard of hearing.

This matter was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Gordon, who coordinates the Civil Rights Initiative for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of Virginia.

This case is a part of the Department of Justice’s Barrier-Free Health Care Initiative, which seeks to enforce the ADA’s prohibition of discrimination against individuals with disabilities by health care providers.  Through the Barrier-Free Health Care Initiative, U.S. Attorneys’ offices across the nation and the Department’s Civil Rights Division target their enforcement efforts on a critical area for individuals with disabilities—access to medical services and facilities.  The Barrier-Free Health Care Initiative is a multi-phase initiative that includes effective communication for people who are deaf or have hearing loss, physical access to medical care for people with mobility disabilities, and equal access to treatment for people who have HIV/AIDS.

The Department of Justice has a number of publications available to assist entities to comply with the ADA, including a Business Brief on Communicating with People Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing in Hospital Settings, www.ada.gov/hospcombr.htm, and publications specific to health care providers, HIV discrimination, and effective communication with people with hearing and vision disabilities, as well as publications about tax credits available for providing access.  For more information on the ADA and to access these publications, visit www.ada.gov.  The settlement in this case, along with other Barrier-Free Health Care Initiative settlements may be found at www.ada.gov/usao-agreements.htm.  For more information on the Barrier Free Health Care Initiative visit www.ada.gov/usao-agreements.htm.  Those interested in finding out more about these settlements or the obligations of public accommodations under the ADA may 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 ada.complaint@usdoj.gov.

A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia at http://www.justice.gov/usao/vae.

Updated April 22, 2015