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Press Release

ADA Agreement Ensures Effective Communication with Deaf and Hard of Hearing Patients at Kent Hospital

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Rhode Island

PROVIDENCE, RI – United States Attorney Zachary A. Cunha today announced a settlement agreement under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) with Kent Hospital, an affiliate of Care New England Health System, to resolve a complaint brought by an individual who is deaf and uses American Sign Language (ASL) as her primary means of communication.

The complainant was hospitalized at Kent Hospital in December 2021, and alleged that Kent Hospital failed to provide her with effective communication until the seventh day of her hospitalization, after multiple complaints by herself and a family member.

Because of Kent Hospital’s failure to provide an interpreter or other means of effective communication, the patient alleged that she experienced increased fear and confusion about her medical diagnosis and treatment. Kent Hospital cooperated fully with the investigation of this matter, which substantiated the allegations in the complaint.

Under the terms of the agreement, Kent Hospital will adopt new ADA policies and practices that will deal with providing effective communication and securing qualified interpreters for patients; train its staff on these policies; report any future complaints; and cooperate with the U.S. Attorney’s Office to ensure ongoing compliance with the terms of the settlement agreement. Additionally, Kent Hospital will pay $30,000 to the complainant and a $5,000 penalty.

Title III of the ADA prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in places of public accommodations, such as hospitals. It requires places of public accommodation to provide the necessary auxiliary aids and services to ensure that communication is effective. Such aids and services can include American Sign Language interpreters for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing and must be paid for by the place of public accommodation.

The United States’ case was handled by AUSA Amy Romero.

The Department of Justice offers a number of publications available to assist entities in complying with the ADA, including Effective Communication and a Business Brief on Communicating with People Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing in Hospital Settings. For more information on the ADA and to access these publications, visit or call the Justice Department’s toll-free ADA Information Line at 800-514-0301 or 800-514-0383 (TDD).

Any member of the public who wishes to file a complaint alleging that a place of public accommodation or public entity in Rhode Island is not accessible to persons with disabilities may contact the U.S. Attorney’s Office at (401) 709-5000.



Jim Martin

(401) 709-5357

Updated December 19, 2023

Civil Rights
Press Release Number: 23-128