The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), passed in 1990, prohibits discrimination and ensures equal opportunity for persons with disabilities. Under this law, increased employment opportunities and accessibility for millions of disabled people - including those with substantial hearing loss - is guaranteed.
However, the narrow interpretation of the word "disability" by the courts led to repeated disqualifications of certain impairments from coverage under the law.
The Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA), effective as of January of this year, gave a broader definition to "disability," interpreting it as an impairment that "substantially limits a major life activity."
This new classification encompasses a wide variety of conditions, including substantial hearing loss, regardless of whether the sufferer's hearing is corrected or improved by a hearing aid or another assistive device.
Another "auxiliary" service mandated by the law for the deaf or hearing impaired when communicating important information (for example, between a doctor or hospital personnel and a hearing disabled patient) is exchanging written notes, typing back and forth on a computer, or providing a qualified sign language interpreter.
For more information on the ADAAA and hearing loss, read Healthy Hearing's full featured article: New Twist on Old Law: Good News for Those With Hearing Loss.