No, that won’t cut it anymore. The Justice Department entered into an agreement with H&R Block that included that they would provide auxiliary aids when necessary for their tax preparation services, classes, and training; that they would post this policy on their website and distribute it to all their employees; establish a list of local ASL interpreters; and post their policy conspicuously in every H&R block office. You want your taxes prepared and you are Deaf and you don’t want to share your private financial information with you child who often serves as your interpreter – you can.
But, buyer beware, this is not just about H&R Block. This is about any business that provides information to the public – like lawyers, doctors, and accountants. If you have important, confidential, complex information to relay, you must have the ability to relay it in a means that is meaningful to the person who needs to receive the information.
It also not just about ASL interpreters. Other auxiliary services include speech to speech relay: a service where people who have difficult to understand speech can call a relay and have specially trained operators relay the information you want to say; Braille; large print; assistance in filling out forms if you cannot read well; and accessible electronic formats. Did you know that older screen readers and computers cannot read a PDF file out loud or translate it into Braille? Did you know that an alternative to providing a document in Braille might be to send it to your customer in a doc file via email?
Businesses need to have a plan in place for how they are going to communicate with their customers with disabilities. No one expects every business to have on hand at all times an ASL interpreter or a copy of every piece of paper in Braille, but what they do expect and the law requires is that you know what you are going to do when you do have a customer who need an auxiliary aid to interact effectively with your business. It is much easier than you think if you plan for it ahead of time.