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Subject: ASL Interpreter for board meeting
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Author Messages
ScottR10
(Virginia)

Posts:1


08/28/2017 11:48 AM  
I am a deaf lot owner and if the board calls me into a hearing on a violation, do I have same rights under ADA requesting an ASL interpreter at their expense?
JanetB2
(Colorado)

Posts:4211


08/28/2017 11:52 AM  
If a personal hearing against yourself and you are called into by the Board I would contend YES. If you are attending open HOA meetings, then that is potentially your responsibility to provide. Keep in mind we are not attorneys and this is just our personal opinions.
TimB4
(Virginia)

Posts:16801


08/28/2017 1:10 PM  
The ADA is applies to public buildings.
The HOA is a private company.

I would think you would have to pay for any interpreter.


Now you have two different opinions.

Suggest you contact the ADA and ask them.
JanetB2
(Colorado)

Posts:4211


08/28/2017 2:23 PM  
Posted By TimB4 on 08/28/2017 1:10 PM
The ADA is applies to public buildings.
The HOA is a private company.

I would think you would have to pay for any interpreter.


Now you have two different opinions.

Suggest you contact the ADA and ask them.


So ... Are you stating if my "private company" wanted to build a club house it would not need to be ADA compliant? If I was the the HOA I would consider the fact that items from a hearing could have the potential in future to escalate to a Court case. Therefore, the HOA potentially should take care now to prevent anyone with a legal disability from not fully understanding the initial discussion.
TimB4
(Virginia)

Posts:16801


08/28/2017 2:50 PM  
Posted By JanetB2 on 08/28/2017 2:23 PM


So ... Are you stating if my "private company" wanted to build a club house it would not need to be ADA compliant?




Correct.

However, if they rent the club house to the public, then yes.


Take a look at the actual act:


https://www.ada.gov/2010_regs.htm


from a department of justice letter: https://www.ada.gov/adaanprm.pdf

The ADA broadly protects the rights
of individuals with disabilities in
employment, access to State and local
government services, places of public
accommodation, transportation, and
other important areas of American life

and, in addition, requires that newly
designed and constructed or altered
public accommodations and commercial
facilities
be readily accessible to and
usable by individuals with disabilities.
AugustinD


Posts:3467


08/28/2017 3:29 PM  
The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability by homeowners' and condo associations. This site says that the HOA must provide a sign language interpreter for HOA meetings: https://www.nad.org/resources/civil-rights-laws/fair-housing-act/housing-discrimination/ . Because of this, I think it is more likely than not that the HOA must provide the sign language interpreter, at the HOA's expense, to ScottR10.
TimB4
(Virginia)

Posts:16801


08/28/2017 3:42 PM  
Augustin,

Now we have the applicable law.



AugustinD


Posts:3467


08/28/2017 3:58 PM  
ScottR10, I am seeing only one caveat on the point. If the HOA has a small budget and providing an ASL interpreter would be an "undue financial burden" to the HOA, then the HOA might not be obliged to provide an ASL interpreter. See http://www.condolawgroup.com/2010/10/11/reasonable-accommodation-interpreters/ and other sites. If you want, it might be helpful to post the number of members in your HOA; what its annual revenue is; and how much an ASL interpreter would cost for say one hour.
JanetB2
(Colorado)

Posts:4211


08/28/2017 4:35 PM  
Posted By TimB4 on 08/28/2017 2:50 PM
Posted By JanetB2 on 08/28/2017 2:23 PM


So ... Are you stating if my "private company" wanted to build a club house it would not need to be ADA compliant?




Correct.

However, if they rent the club house to the public, then yes.


Take a look at the actual act:


https://www.ada.gov/2010_regs.htm


from a department of justice letter: https://www.ada.gov/adaanprm.pdf

The ADA broadly protects the rights
of individuals with disabilities in
employment, access to State and local
government services, places of public
accommodation, transportation, and
other important areas of American life

and, in addition, requires that newly
designed and constructed or altered
public accommodations and commercial
facilities
be readily accessible to and
usable by individuals with disabilities.


It is the potential "important areas of American Life" that could bite the HOA on this one issue. Plus looking at fair housing. Only because it is not a general meeting open to all members where can choose whether or not to attend. It is a "demand" letter to essentially appear or else face more consequences ... potentially when you demand with consequences, I would contend it is better to CYA.
GenoS
(Florida)

Posts:3863


08/28/2017 4:59 PM  
Posted By AugustinD on 08/28/2017 3:29 PM
The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability by homeowners' and condo associations. This site says that the HOA must provide a sign language interpreter for HOA meetings: https://www.nad.org/resources/civil-rights-laws/fair-housing-act/housing-discrimination/ . Because of this, I think it is more likely than not that the HOA must provide the sign language interpreter, at the HOA's expense, to ScottR10.

My reading and interpretation of this is is different.

42 USC § 3604(f) talks about, "... "reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices, or services, when such accommodations may be necessary to afford such person equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling..."

"a dwelling"

"...modifications may be necessary to afford the handicapped person full enjoyment of the premises of a dwelling..."

Again, "a dwelling".

Most of it is concerned with the sale and rental of housing units, including landlords who must allow for certain accomodations. It is meant to prohibit housing discrimination.
JanetB2
(Colorado)

Posts:4211


08/28/2017 5:10 PM  
Posted By GenoS on 08/28/2017 4:59 PM
Posted By AugustinD on 08/28/2017 3:29 PM
The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability by homeowners' and condo associations. This site says that the HOA must provide a sign language interpreter for HOA meetings: https://www.nad.org/resources/civil-rights-laws/fair-housing-act/housing-discrimination/ . Because of this, I think it is more likely than not that the HOA must provide the sign language interpreter, at the HOA's expense, to ScottR10.

My reading and interpretation of this is is different.

42 USC § 3604(f) talks about, "... "reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices, or services, when such accommodations may be necessary to afford such person equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling..."

"a dwelling"

"...modifications may be necessary to afford the handicapped person full enjoyment of the premises of a dwelling..."

Again, "a dwelling".

Most of it is concerned with the sale and rental of housing units, including landlords who must allow for certain accomodations. It is meant to prohibit housing discrimination.


Geno ... I think you hit the nail 😀. The meeting OP is referencing is most likely in regards to rules and policy if BOD called the meeting.
AugustinD


Posts:3467


08/28/2017 5:58 PM  
Hi Geno, if a disabled person cannot pursue her or his right of appeal of a rules violation (because of disability), then she or he does not have equal opportunity to use and enjoy her or his dwelling. For more discussion, see the links I posted.
GenoS
(Florida)

Posts:3863


08/28/2017 9:35 PM  
Maybe the request to provide a sign language interpreter would be reasonable for the annual meeting. What about all the other meetings and functions open to the homeowners? What about social events? We easily have a combined 25 hours of board and committee meetings almost every month and another 10 hours worth of social events. Is $20,000 a year in the budget for interpreters "reasonable" when we barely have enough every year for necessary maintenance projects? Is forcing us to raise assessments 6% to provide these services reasonable?

Back to the question of providing an interpreter for a violation hearing... I guess I can buy that as long as the added costs don't cause an undue hardship.
SheliaH
(Indiana)

Posts:3302


08/31/2017 8:09 AM  
This website had a similar conversation in 2012 (see http://www.hoatalk.com/Forum/tabid/55/forumid/1/postid/134207/view/topic/Default.aspx) and the consensus at that time was that the deaf resident would have to provide an interpreter at his/her expense.

I'm inclined to agree with Geno that this can get very expensive if the HOA has to do this for everything this homeowner attends. The post above contained a suggestion that the owner split the cost with the HOA – would you be willing to do that?

Do you have an interpreter who already helps you with day to day activities? If so, could he or she accompany you to the meeting? What about a relative or family friend who knows sign language and could do this for you?
KarenH24
(North Carolina)

Posts:2


05/11/2020 6:12 AM  
I am profoundly deaf and always require interpreting services at any HOA meeting. We belonged to 8 different HOAs over the years, and when I wanted interpreting services, I paid for them because by asking the HOA, I would only alienate the other owners. I woud be asking the HOA to spend money on just me, and to me that would be selfishness especially if I had nothing to contribute to the meeting. I would by far rather see the money spent on maintenance, etc. especially if it would have effects on property values.

However at one HOA community I served on the ARC (Archictural Review Commission) because no one else wanted the seat, so I agreed to do it if they would cover the cost of interpreting services. They did, and I did a very good job, so I was happy the cost of the services paid off for everyone.
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:2784


05/11/2020 6:30 AM  
Karen,

Thank you for a reasoned and reasonable approach!
KellyM3
(North Carolina)

Posts:1513


05/11/2020 4:16 PM  
Posted By ScottR10 on 08/28/2017 11:48 AM
I am a deaf lot owner and if the board calls me into a hearing on a violation, do I have same rights under ADA requesting an ASL interpreter at their expense?




Scott,

That's a great question. Legal mandates aside, if my HOA Board called a deaf HOA member into a required meeting, I'd work w/ you to ensure you have proper communication that is clear. For me, that's a moral issue as a board that communicates w/ you and says your inability to hear them is "your problem," is malicious and negligent.
MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:9408


05/11/2020 5:03 PM  
I don't see it as a HOA responsibility to pay for an ASL Interpreter. It would be nice but don't see it as required. I think you would be the one whom would need to bring your own in. Otherwise, there is no reason why one can't communicate in other ways instead of in person.

Better yet, just make sure your not in violation of any of the rules...

Former HOA President
KarenH24
(North Carolina)

Posts:2


05/12/2020 6:49 AM  
I contacted an interpreter referral agency for services at an HOA meeting here. I said I would pay for them, and they refused to bill me. They said it was their policy to send the bills to the organizations, providers, etc. The reason for this is to reinforce ADA regulations. If I, a private person, wanted interpreting services, I would have to find one myself. I suggested that they might be discriminating against me by refusing to let me pay for it.

Further there was a block party, and they would not let me hire and pay for an interpreter.

So I plan to make a case of this with appropriate authorities.
CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:1055


05/12/2020 7:03 AM  
Posted By KellyM3 on 05/11/2020 4:16 PM
Posted By ScottR10 on 08/28/2017 11:48 AM
I am a deaf lot owner and if the board calls me into a hearing on a violation, do I have same rights under ADA requesting an ASL interpreter at their expense?




Scott,

That's a great question. Legal mandates aside, if my HOA Board called a deaf HOA member into a required meeting, I'd work w/ you to ensure you have proper communication that is clear. For me, that's a moral issue as a board that communicates w/ you and says your inability to hear them is "your problem," is malicious and negligent.





Typically when community associations are required to allow "reasonable accommodations" (eg. a ramp or other modifications to the home), these items are paid for by the owner who needs them, not the association. The association is only obligated to approve these things when they may conflict with community restrictions or rules.

I don't think that this is malicious or negligent - it's the law and the community's CC&Rs. Many people have issues that make their lives more difficult than the average, and there are charitable organizations that can help provide services for them. But HOAs are not charitable organizations. The board has limits on how they spend association funds - they can get themselves into trouble for using those funds for items that benefit a single owner at the expense of the rest, no matter how much those items may be needed by the individual owner.

That said, if this issue came up in my community, we'd run it past the association's attorney just to make sure we're not overlooking something.
BarbaraT1
(Texas)

Posts:320


05/12/2020 8:11 AM  
Many of these responses are disappointing.

Rather than approach this is as "what is the minimum we are legally obligated to do, and can we get away with doing nothing" how about approaching it as "how can we accommodate the needs of one of our residents".

How is it not in your best interests as an association to ensure that you can communicate clearly with a member you have summoned to a hearing?

Perhaps start with asking the resident who needs accommodation what the options are. Perhaps they can read lips. Perhaps you can communicate through a laptop allowing each side to type questions and responses.

Make any effort other than "sucks to be you, don't break rules if you're going to insist on being deaf because we cannot be bothered to make any effort to communicate with you."

I wonder how many of you would tell a wheelchair user to drag themselves up the stairs or just not come to meetings.



CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:1055


05/12/2020 9:23 AM  
Posted By BarbaraT1 on 05/12/2020 8:11 AM
Many of these responses are disappointing.

Rather than approach this is as "what is the minimum we are legally obligated to do, and can we get away with doing nothing" how about approaching it as "how can we accommodate the needs of one of our residents".

How is it not in your best interests as an association to ensure that you can communicate clearly with a member you have summoned to a hearing?

Perhaps start with asking the resident who needs accommodation what the options are. Perhaps they can read lips. Perhaps you can communicate through a laptop allowing each side to type questions and responses.

Make any effort other than "sucks to be you, don't break rules if you're going to insist on being deaf because we cannot be bothered to make any effort to communicate with you."

I wonder how many of you would tell a wheelchair user to drag themselves up the stairs or just not come to meetings.







I think most of the posters are equating accommodating an owner's needs with paying for the accommodation. We can be kind and compassionate while still understanding that our finer feelings do not entitle us to spend other people's money however we choose. And HOA funds are other people's money. That is the entire question: who pays? Conflating this with morality and other considerations is a smokescreen.

My community's CC&Rs are clear. The board must allow accommodations, but the owner who needs these accommodations must pay for them. In addition, if there are multiple options for an accommodation, the board is not required to allow the one that an owner prefers if a different option also works and is a better fit with the community overall. (This comes from our attorney, I'm not making it up.) If our board decided to ignore all this just because we're such compassionate people, then the board is not acting in accordance with our governing documents.

Telling a wheelchair user to drag themselves up the stairs? That's just silly. You hold meetings in accessible places, you don't spend association funds to make a different space accessible. Granted, paying for an ASL interpreter is small change vs. paying to build someone a wheelchair ramp, and probably nobody is going to look so closely at the financials that they'll see this and have a conniption about misuse of HOA funds. But that's what it would be in my community. And if the OP's CC&Rs are the same, then it would be a similar misuse of HOA funds.

By the way, a laptop that can allow both sides to type questions and answers or that can handle voice-to-text sounds like an excellent idea since it also creates a transcript of the hearing. Do any of the online meeting platforms like Zoom handle things like this?

DouglasK1
(Florida)

Posts:1508


05/13/2020 9:59 AM  
Note that the original thread is three years old and some of you are responding to posters that have not been around in years.

Escaped former treasurer and director of a self managed association.
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