Breaking Down Laws Applicable to CART
It can be confusing to determine the differences between the laws that govern our daily lives. For a profession and service like CART, where the consumers are deaf or hard of hearing and considered disabled by the government, even more laws apply. From ADA to IDEA, both the CART captioner and consumer face a multitude of provisions and restrictions.
In an effort to break down some of these confusing regulations, following is a quick review of some of the major laws that can affect communication access. We will investigate items such as the requirements in the law, definitions included in the law, who is covered, and what kind of services they provide, all to develop a clearer understanding of what each one means for CART.
1973: Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (Section 504)
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 requires that any agency, school, or institution receiving federal financial assistance provides people with disabilities an opportunity to be fully integrated into the mainstream. However, the institution does not receive additional funds to provide auxiliary services or aids.
This law defines people with disabilities as individuals who have a physical impairment that limits one or more major life activities or a person who is regarded to have an impairment. This qualifies the deaf and hard-of-hearing community.
The law aims to protect all people with a disability from discrimination in education based on their disability. It also eliminates barriers that would prevent a student from fully participating in programs or services offered to the general school population.
People with disabilities who attend regular classrooms can use support services, such as CART, to cancel any barriers to the complete educational experience.
1990: Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was enacted in July 1990. This law gives civil rights protections to people with disabilities just as people are protected based on race, color, sex, national origin, age, and religion. Using an accommodation plan, the person can join mainstream environments with any reasonable accommodation needed to get full access. This law covers a broad range of issues, including wheelchair access, employment and housing issues, and information access.
In addition, Title II of the ADA clarifies the requirements of section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, which deals with public transportation systems that receive federal financial assistance. Title II extends coverage to all public entities that provide public transportation, whether or not they receive federal financial assistance.
A reasonable accommodation is any change or adjustment to a school or work environment that allows a qualified student or employee with a disability to participate or to do essential tasks.
Every person who is deaf or hard of hearing has the right to get these services at school, at work, and at certain specified meeting places unless the cost to provide such services is unduly burdensome. Challenges remain, however. While doctors and hospitals are required by law to provide CART assistance, they are reluctant to do so because at this time insurance carriers do not compensate them for costs associated with this service.
1997: Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) amendments
The amendments to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) were signed into law in 1997. The language requires educational institutions to provide a free, appropriate, public education to people with disabilities in the least restrictive environment. A local educational agency is eligible for assistance under IDEA if it has demonstrated to the satisfaction of the state educational agency that it meets each of the required conditions.
The new law removes financial incentives for placing children with disabilities in separate settings when they could attend a regular classroom. In addition, regular classroom teachers will be included in meetings when the academic goals of children with disabilities are set.
IDEA also eases some of the restrictions on how IDEA funding can be used for children served in regular classrooms. Specifically, such funds can be used to provide services to children with disabilities in regular classroom settings even if non-disabled children benefit as well. An example of this could be if the CART captioner projects the transcript on a projector rather than a laptop monitor.
Under IDEA, each student has an Individual Education Program (IEP), which is created by a team:
- the parent(s)
- at least one of the student’s regular teachers
- a representative of the public agency
- someone who can interpret the instructional implications of evaluation results
- other individuals who have knowledge or special expertise regarding the student, including related service personnel (such as the CART captioner)
- This is at the discretion of the parent or the agency.
- if appropriate, the student
The team works to determine:
- the student’s current level of academic performance
- measurable annual goals
- what services will be provided for the student
- what activities the student can and cannot participate in with the regular class
- the date which the services will be provided along with frequency, location, and duration of the services
- the child’s progress
- how the parent(s) will be informed of the child’s progress
If the team has determined that the child will receive CART, the IEP should include the following specifics for this service:
- A realtime court reporter who can write at a minimum speed of 225 words per minute will provide CART.
- The student will receive an electronic copy of the notes immediately after each class to make his or her own notes at home.
- Same-day substitutes will be provided when needed.
- The student can to follow the CART feed on a laptop computer on his or her desk.
1998: Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act (Section 508)
In 1998, Congress amended the Rehabilitation Act to require federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology accessible to people with disabilities. Inaccessible technology interferes with a person’s ability to get and use information quickly and easily.
Section 508 eliminates barriers in information technology, makes new opportunities available to people with disabilities, and encourages technological development that will help achieve these goals.
Under Section 508, federal agencies must give employees and members of the public who are disabled the same access to information as everyone else. For example, a recorded or live transmission on an agency website must have a text version for people with hearing loss.
CART is a reasonable accommodation to receive communication access under all these laws. In most cases, either the school or other institution subsidizes costs incurred to the consumer to ensure that full and effective access is available. There is sure to be future legislation incorporating the use of CART for the deaf and hard-of-hearing community in daily activities.