Deaf & Hard of Hearing Applicant Accommodations

Deaf and hard of hearing applicants and recipients of all Department programs are to be informed that the Department will arrange and pay for accommodations needed for effective communication at all interviews, meetings, hearings, or when requested by the client. Applicants or clients must also be made aware that a Text Telephone (TTY) exists for the MDHHS office they are attempting to access, or they may use the Michigan Relay System (1-800-649-3777).

In selecting the appropriate auxiliary aid or service involving an individual who is deaf or hard of hearing, MDHHS will give the individual who is deaf or hard of hearing the opportunity to request the auxiliary aid or service of his or her choice. Primary consideration will be given to the expressed choice of the individual unless it can be shown that another equally effective means of communication is available, or that use of the means chosen would result in a fundamental alteration in the service, program, or activity or in undue financial and administrative burdens.

MDHHS offices will secure the requested accommodation for the date, time, and place where the service will be required. When interpreters are requested, qualified interpreters are required. Qualified interpreters are interpreters who are able to interpret effectively, accurately, and impartially both receptively and expressively, using any necessary specialized vocabulary.
 
When interpreters are requested, certified interpreters are highly recommended. Certified interpreters have current cards in their possession showing their certification or qualification levels. The cards also show that the interpreters are current in the field, follow the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf Code of Ethics, will keep information about the assignment confidential and will remain impartial.

Michigan's Division on Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DOD) within the Michigan Commission on Disability Concerns is available to provide technical assistance on issues relating to effective communication. DOD also publishes a directory of interpreter referral agencies and private practice interpreters. This directory is sent to each local office and institution upon request.

At the date, place and time determined and prior to continuing with the proceeding, MDHHS employees will inquire of the deaf or hard of hearing person, through the interpreter, if the interpreter's skills will ensure effective and accurate interpreting of the proceedings for them. If the question is answered in the negative, the proceedings will be suspended until a more qualified interpreter is obtained. (Exception to this procedure may be used in an emergency situation, such as a protective services investigation where safety is an issue).

Hard of hearing clients may request an assistive listening device for clearer communication. The device allows for amplification of voiced messages without magnifying background sounds. A quiet room may also assist in better communication between parties. In some circumstances a notepad and written materials may be sufficient to permit effective communication; in other circumstances they may not be sufficient. For example, a qualified interpreter may be necessary when the information being communicated is complex, or is exchanged for a lengthy period of time or involves heightened emotions. Generally, factors to be considered in determining whether an interpreter is required include the context in which the communication is taking place, the number of people involved, and the importance of the communication.

If requested by the deaf or hard of hearing person or the administrative law judge determines that an interpreter is needed, a qualified interpreter shall be used for administrative hearings (Food Stamps, Medicaid, etc.) and other due process hearings.
A qualified interpreter identified by the local office and listed in the Michigan Directory of Interpreters for the Deaf, or a third party adult identified by the local office and known in the community as a qualified interpreter may also be used to interpret for the deaf or hard of hearing participant.

Exception

A deaf or hard of hearing participant may also choose to use a family member, a friend, or a neighbor to interpret or facilitate communication with MDHHS's personnel if the family member, friend, or neighbor wishes to provide such assistance and if such use is necessary or appropriate under the circumstances, giving appropriate consideration to any privacy issues that may arise.

This provision in no way lessens MDHHS's obligation to provide and pay for appropriate auxiliary aids and services, including qualified sign language interpreters as required by federal law.

In those instances where communication is an issue after normal business hours, the use of note taking will only be sufficient if it provides effective communication to the individual who is deaf or hard of hearing.

LEGAL BASE
Section 504 of the Federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973 as amended, Public Acts 203 and 204 of 1982, and the American with Disabilities Act of 1990.