IDEA and ADA, Effective Communication Intersection
Published December 2014
The United States Department of Education (along with the U.S. Department of Justice) on November 12, 2014, issued a Dear Colleague Letter and a frequently-asked-questions document on the interrelationship between the Americans with Disabilities Act’s “effective communication” requirement and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). In 2013, the Ninth Circuit held that “a school district’s compliance with its obligations to a deaf or hard-of-hearing child under the IDEA” does not also necessarily establish its “compliance with its effective communication obligations to that child under Title II of the ADA.” The letter adopts the Ninth Circuit’s rationale (not surprising: the United States filed an amicus brief in support of the students). Take-away message: For students with disabilities related to hearing, seeing, or speaking, “effective” under the ADA may be a different standard than “appropriate” under the IDEA.