Clarification of Answer by
13 Nov 2003 15:38 PST
Hello again Abe ...
Thank you for for requesting a clarification and restating your
question. I'll attempt to answer the question for you.
Before I do, please note the disclaimer below. I am not licensed to
practice law in New Jersey, and this isn't legal advice.
I did available myself of the law library facilities at the University
of Arizona to see if case law regarding the use of TDD existed. I was
specifically looking for a requirement, either on the Federal or New
Jersey level, that required the use of TDD as a method of servicing
those with hearing disabilities or "communication disabilities". There
is nothing specifically addressing the issue of refusing to service a
customer using TDD.
My answer, based on any specifics addressing TDD, came from the
information provided by the Department of Justice, is below. I use the
internet references only because it is readily available for you to
You asked, "IS IT REQUIRED BY FEDERAL and/or State of NJ (county of
Monmouth)law for companies to service phone calls placed through TDD
And the answer to that is "No". Companies are not required to service
phone calls placed through TDD services.
In a nutshell, the focus of the ADA is discriminating against those
with disabilities, whether it be in employment, commerce, public
facilities, etc. That is, it requires removing barriers that prevent
doing business with persons with disabilities.
With regard to those who are deaf or have communication disabilities,
the specifics are to provide a method of communication, be it TDD, an
interpreter, or even written notes or correspondence.
There IS no requirement that any commerce has to service customers via
TDD, so long as there is some method of communication. In the case of
a mail order or catalog businesses this would normally include
conducting business via postal service or mail. So long as the refusal
isn't to do business with a deaf person or a person with a
communication disability, and so long as there are other methods of
communication, there simply is no statutory requirement that the
method has to be TDD.
Here's what the law says specifically:
"Sec.36.303 Auxiliary aids and services.
(a) General. A public accommodation shall take those steps that may be
necessary to ensure that no individual with a disability is excluded,
denied services, segregated or otherwise treated differently than
other individuals because of the absence of auxiliary aids and
(2) This part does not require a public accommodation to use a TDD for
receiving or making telephone calls incident to its operations ...
... (f) Alternatives. If provision of a particular auxiliary aid or
service by a public accommodation would result in a fundamental
alteration in the nature of the goods, services, facilities,
privileges, advantages, or accommodations being offered or in an undue
burden, i.e., significant difficulty or expense, the public
accommodation shall provide an alternative auxiliary aid or service,
if one exists, that would not result in an alteration or such burden
but would nevertheless ensure that, to the maximum extent possible,
individuals with disabilities receive the goods, services, facilities,
privileges, advantages, or accommodations offered by the public
And this from the Department of Justice's FAQ on the ADA:
"MYTH: Sign language interpreters are required everywhere.
FACT: The ADA only requires that effective communication not exclude
people with disabilities -- which in many situations means providing
written materials or exchanging notes. The law does not require any
measure that would cause an undue financial or administrative burden."
The fine distinction is a matter of discriminating against or creating
or maintaining barriers so those with disabilities are prohibited from
doing business with a firm at all.
The fact that "Many people who DO NOT have a hearing disability are
using this free TDD service on the internet to fraudulently place
merchandise /service orders & disquise their identities," as you
mentioned, could conceivably constitute a valid argument that to use
TDD creates an undue hardship on the business.
So long as any business does not refuse to do business with a person
with a disability ** because of the disability **, the business can
choose the communication method.
There ARE some specific instances, such as medical treatment
facilities being required to provide interpreters, but there are no
such specifics regarding commerce and TDD, only that there be a means
by which communication can occur.
I agree with you, it is abhorrent that people will use this service
established for those who really need it is being abused by those who
want to perpetrate a fraud. It makes the use of a worthwhile service
difficult for both a business/merchant and the person with
If you have any further questions or require further clarification,
please let me know.