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Regulatory FAQ > General FAQ Questions > Am I required to provide or pay for an interpreter for a patient who is hearing-impaired?

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According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (AwDA), a dental office is considered to be a place of public accommodation and thus is prohibited from discriminating by reason of a disability. As a result, a dental office is required to provide an interpreter if one is needed to effectively communicate with a hearing impaired individual. 

 A dental office should coordinate with the hearing impaired patient to determine if an interpreter is needed. AwDA does not allow a dental office to pass the costs of hiring an interpreter onto patients but most dental offices can qualify for a 50 percent tax credit if interpreter services cost between $250 and $10,250 during a given year. Interpreters can generally be found through a local disability support group or your hearing impaired patient may have a preferred interpreter that your office can utilize.

 Additional information is provided by the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services, Office of The Deaf and Hard of Hearing at http://www1.dshs.wa.gov/hrsa/odhh/index.shtml or by phone at (360) 902-8000.