Following the ADA: Cheaper than Employers Think

Posted on 6 February 2008. Filed under: ADA Restoration Act of 2007, Advocacy | Tags: , , |

Many employers (and their lawyers) strongly oppose both the Americans with Disabilities Act and the ADA Restoration Act in part because they mistakenly assume that it is necessarily expensive to accommodate workers who are deaf or disabled.

I recently learned some interesting and important statistics that can help refute these misconceptions:

  • 20% of reasonable accommodations cost nothing.
  • Over 70% cost $500 or less.
  • The median cost is $250.
  • A company makes $35 for each $1 spent on reasonable accommodations. Some of the benefits include hiring and retaining a qualified employee, increased productivity, and decreased turnover costs.

I learned these statistics at

It’s worth following the above link to read the rest of the post — there is some interesting discussion there with more links to follow.

PLEASE make an ASL vlog (or a written blog, if you like) on the ADA Restoration Act! If you do, I’d be delighted to link to you!

CCD has compiled an excellent collection of materials on the ADA and on the ADA Restoration Act of 2007, so it’s well worth following their link to If you’re still new to the subject, this can help you understand why the ADA Restoration Act is critical to pass and why we should all be involved.

See my continually-updated list of blog entries from all over the web about the ADA Restoration Act of 2007, always available from the top navigation bar at “On the ADA Restoration Act.”

See examples of specific court cases that have served to undermine the spirit and intent of the Americans with Disabilities Act: click on “ADA Court Cases” under “categories” in the right-hand navigation bar. I still have one more ADA Court Caseto post in the coming few weeks.

Also, don’t miss these links: One group of activists has posted a short list of simple ideas of things you can do to help get the Restoration Act passed. And do check out the ADA Restoration Blog for updates. Or browse through background information on the ADA Restoration Act. Or contact your legislators. It is particularly important to write letters to your senators.


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4 Responses to “Following the ADA: Cheaper than Employers Think”

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Keep up the good fight, Andrea! Keep reminding us that it ain’t over until that big Viking lady sing beautifully for us. 😉

I am sorry for not keeping up with the ADA Restoration activities but I am curious to know if the sign langauge interpreting agencies will be regulated under the ADA Restoration Act? I sure hope so as I think their interpeting services rate are way too high. Employers balk about having to pay so much money to the sign language interpreters that are billing a year salary of an executive to interpret for their deaf employees. I sure hope there is something that can be done with the sign language interpreting agencies overcharging employers and I think it does hurt the Deaf community real bad!

Thanks “Under the Hill” — I’ve been busy with work; a class I’m taking; and my other blog so I haven’t had time to keep up with this one as much as I like. But I’ll keep trying to post new items when I can.

To “Just another gal” no, the Restoration Act really has only one very specific purpose, and that is to clarify/amplify the definition of who is and isn’t “disabled” under the original ADA. See, the trouble is, when ADA cases come up before the courts, the courts spend too much time deciding who is and isn’t disabled, often based on incredibly narrow technicalities (“sleeping” and “thinking” and “bathing one’s self independently” have all effectively been defined as NOT being “major life activities” in most court interpretations!). So in many cases, employers are trying to claim that a person is “too disabled to work” (often based in misunderstanding of what the person can actually accomplish, not based in fact) but is supposed to be simultaneously “not disabled enough” to qualify for protection under the ADA. And the courts keep letting them get away with this, which means they never even EXAMINE the question of whether an employer’s actions were reasonable and fair or whether they were in fact discriminatory.

So, no, the Restoration Act will not address interpreting agencies, because it is only meant to fix one very specific problem in how the courts have interpreted the ADA. I think legislators are aware that there are other existing loopholes or weaknesses with the ADA and I hope they will come up with more legislation later to address those, but the focus now is making sure that the courts correctly interpret the ADA as covering the people who it was originally MEANT to cover in the first place.

Personally, however, I think the real solution to high interpreting costs is not to attack the agencies because I doubt most of them are doing anything wrong. Interpreters are trained professionals in a challenging occupation, and they need to make a living. They may need to swallow costs that others might not be aware of–for example, free lance interpreters may need to pay for their own health insurance in full, which can cost many hundreds of dollars a month. Or they need to account for the fact that they spend a lot of their time just transporting from one interpreting assignment to the next. Or for on-going training so they can keep up their qualifications. Thus, a good quality interpreter truly does need to charge what can seem like high wages (to those of us who don’t make such wages … or don’t THINK we do because we forget to count benefits such as employer-paid insurance or sick leave or annual leave as part of our “wages”).

Then, any agency that coordinates a large number of interpreters will naturally have certain overhead expenses that have to be paid for.

Yes, it truly sucks. But I doubt there is much that could be done with most interpreting agencies to bring down costs in a signifcant way without either bringing down the quality of interpreters, or reducing the number of interpreters willing to work for them, or driving them out of business altogether.

I think the real answer is to find some way to help companies below a certain size SUBSIDIZE the costs of any reasonable accommodations that go above a certain cost in a given fiscal year. Perhaps one solution would be to require all corporations to pay a certain annual or monthly fee (perhaps via the taxes they already pay) into one central facility — adjusted, of course, according to what they can reasonably afford. Then when any of the participating corporations need to hire interpreters for deaf staff or other higher-cost reasonable accommodations beyond what they could reasonably be expected to pay, then they could turn to this central facility for the rest of it. That way, no single corporation would be disproportionately “hit” by higher than the average cost of reasonable accommodations. Some of the time corporations might be paying something when they’re not using it (either because they have no disabled workers or because all the accommodations they have needed have been very low cost), but each of them face the possibility of maybe needing it some years down the line.

But this is not in the Restoration Act. It’s something I’d like to see for the future.

Thanks for the link. Steve Kuusisto of Planet of the Blind has good posts on the ADA Restoration Act. If you want to see an article against the act, check out: The arguments are quite outrageous and to me, show a dangerous way of thinking.

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