Know Your Rights

5Cited Resources:
National Association of the Deaf:
Americans with Disabilities Act:

If you are deaf, have Medicaid, make an appointment and they refuse to get an interpreter, you need to call the Medicaid office. The Medicaid office will call that doctor (hospital, mental health center, etc.) and tell them to get an interpreter if one is needed for effective communication.

Click here to find your local Medicaid office contact person.

Florida Association of the Deaf, Inc.

Press Release

Did your Medicaid Doctor Deny you an ASL Interpreter?

To watch the Vlog about this please go to

Are you a deaf person on Medicaid who has asked your doctor to provide an interpreter and they said no? Or the doctor told you to bring your own interpreter? Do you know a deaf person on Medicaid who has been denied interpreters by their doctor? If so this information is for you.

Medicaid is a form of health insurance in Florida. Medicaid is overseen by the Agency for Health Care Administration known as AHCA, who is headquartered in Tallahassee. AHCA has set up a number of rules that Medicaid doctors must follow to keep receiving payment through Medicaid. One rule is that these doctors must provide qualified interpreters, when a deaf person needs one to effectively communicate with their Medicaid doctor.

AHCA has set up 13 Medicaid area offices throughout Florida to help make sure people on Medicaid can get help when needed. If you are deaf and have asked your Medicaid doctor for an interpreter, and he or she will not provide one you must contact your local area Medicaid office immediately and let them know. If you let them know they can contact your Medicaid doctor for you and make sure the doctor will provide an interpreter. To find your local area Medicaid office you need to go to and click on the county you live in. This will give you the phone number for the Medicaid office to call. You must call the office in your county.

When you call your local Medicaid office to tell them your doctor will not provide an interpreter please have 3 things ready: 1. your Medicaid number, 2. the name and address of the Medicaid doctor who will not provide an interpreter, 3.  the date that you called the doctor asking for the interpreter when he or she said no.

This process is ONLY, and we repeat only for deaf people on Medicaid in Florida. Please do not call if you do not receive Medicaid, the office will not be able to help you.

If you do call your local Medicaid office, as we have told you to do, and the Medicaid office has not called you back within three business days or refuses to help you at all  please contact Attorney Sharon Caserta at or videophone 904-245-1121.

The Florida Association of the Deaf, Jacksonville Area Legal Aid, The Deaf Service Centers Association and Florida Legal Services Inc plan to begin  working with Medicare , and possibly the private insurance companies to help set up a similar system. Once an easier process has been created for deaf people who get Medicare or private insurance we will let you know.

Please share this vlog with others in Florida.

Thank you.

Florida Association of the Deaf, Inc.

7852 Mansfield Hollow Rd

Delray Beach, FL 33446

Follow FAD through Twitter at deaFAD

Educational and Health Information in American Sign Language (ASL) from FAD.

Individuals with disabilities, including deaf or hard of hearing individuals, are frequently subject to injustice.  Therefore, deaf and hard of hearing people must learn to be effective self-advocates.  Why is self-advocacy important when laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 were passed precisely to safeguard the rights of people with disabilities?  Not everyone obeys the law!  A deaf or hard of hearing person may be turned down when requesting a qualified sign language interpreter, CART services, or an assistive listening system from a college, a doctor’s office, or an employer.  It is important to be familiar with your rights under disability laws so you can explain the law, get help when necessary, and get the services you need.

  • Explain that you need a qualified interpreter, specify the type of interpreter, and provide information on where to find interpreter services.
  • Make your request for reasonable accommodation as early as possible.  It often takes time to find a qualified interpreter, or other auxiliary aids or services.
  • If you have problems obtaining an accommodation, get as much information as you can in writing.  This documentation or proof can be very helpful if you have to file a complaint later.  Keep a simple record of the people you talked to, what occurred, and when it happened.
  • Do not assume that the place you are dealing with is familiar with its legal obligations or with people who are deaf or hard of hearing.  Sometimes discrimination is a result of their lack of knowledge.  Explain your legal rights and provide them with the necessary resources to educate themselves such as
  • The best self-advocates are courteous and tactful. Tact involves choosing your battles wisely, educating, and persuading.  Be consistent and confident when self-advocating.
  • You may choose to compromise. However, compromise does not mean you should settle for less than you deserve.  You should not accept accommodations that do not work for you.  When you have done everything that is within your power, and there is nothing more you can do to obtain your rights to reasonable accommodation, it may be time to file a complaint or see a lawyer!

ADA Attorneys and Legal Aid Services:

Sharon Caserta, Esq., SC:L
Deaf/Hard of Hearing Legal Advocacy Program
Jacksonville Area Legal Aid Inc.
126 West Adams Street
Jacksonville, FL. 32202
Phone # (904) 353-1320 V/TTY
Video Phone # (904) 245-1121

Law Offices of Matthew W. Dietz, P.L., ADA Attorney
2990 SW 35th Ave
Miami, FL 33133
Phone: (305) 669-2822


A successful self-advocate is informed – take the time to learn your rights.  The Internet is a valuable source of information. Learn more about your Employment Rights at the NAD and the EEOC websites.  The Web sites of government agencies such as the U.S. Department of Justice, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the U.S. Department of Education provide a wealth of information on the legal rights of individuals with disabilities.  Many states have one or more disability law centers that may be able to provide you with information.  The NAD website at has information on civil rights laws, such as the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), and more.  You may also contact the NAD Law and Advocacy Center to inquire about particular legal rights.

1.) To file a written complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice. Such a complaint should be a letter that contains the following information:

  • (a) your name and address
  • (b) a statement that you have a hearing impairment and need a sign language interpreter to communicate effectively with others
  • (c) the name and address of the health care professional
  • (d) an explanation of what you did to try to get the professional to provide an interpreter
  • (e) an explanation of what you were going to discuss with the doctor (such as risks of surgery, risks and benefits of medications, etc.)
  • (f) a statement that the professional refused to provide an interpreter
  • (g) the date on which the professional refused to provide the interpreter
  • (h) any other information that you believe would be helpful in understanding your complaint
  • (i) a statement that the professional violated the Americans With Disabilities Act
  • (j) a request that the Department of Justice investigate your complaint. Although neither the ADA nor the regulations of the Department of Justice contain a deadline for filing a complaint, you should do so as soon as possible.

The letter should be sent to the following address:
U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
950 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC. 20530

(2) File a written complaint with the Office for Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. This Office enforces a federal law called the Rehabilitation Act. Section 504 of that law prohibits recipients of federal financial assistance from discriminating on the basis of disability. Since many health care professionals receive federal financial assistance in the form of Medicare or Medicaid reimbursement, they are prohibited by Section 504 from discriminating on the basis of disability. There is a deadline for filing a complaint with the Office for Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The complaint must be filed “not later than 180 days from the date of the alleged discrimination, unless the time for filing is extended by the responsible Department official or his designee.” (Emphasis added.)To file such a complaint, you can download a “Discrimination Complaint Form” from the Office for Civil Rights website at or click here now: “Discrimination Complaint Form”

(3) File a lawsuit against the health care professional. To file a lawsuit, you should contact an attorney. The deadline for filing a lawsuit claiming violations of the ADA and/or the Rehabilitation Act may be as short as one year or may be two years. Because the law is unclear on the deadline, the safest course of action is to file the lawsuit within one year of the doctor’s refusal to provide an interpreter.

Here is some useful information we have come across:

ADA-How to File Your Discrimination Complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice:

ADA-How to File a Discrimination Complaint with the Office for Civil Rights:

ADA-How to File a Discrimination Complaint with the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration

U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights

Doctor liable for not providing sign language interpreter

The Clearinghouse on Disability Information Line serves as an information and referral source connecting people with disabilities and advocates of people with disabilities to the resources they need that will assist with their issues. Areas included but not limited are: Accessibility, ADA, Assistive Technology, Basic Needs, Benefits, Community Resources, Education, Employment, Health Care, Housing, Service Animals, State and Local Government Issues, Telecommunications, and Transportation. For more information or to speak to a disability specialist please call 1-877-ADA-4YOU or 1-877-232-4968. Disability Rights Florida, formerly the Advocacy Center for Persons with Disabilities, Inc., is a non-profit organization providing protection and advocacy services in the State of Florida. Their mission is to advance the dignity, equality, self-determination and expressed choices of individuals with disabilities. The federal government’s one-stop Web site for people with disabilities, their families, employers, veterans and service members, workforce professionals and many others.

ADA Information Line: For general ADA information, answers to specific technical questions, free ADA materials, or information about filing a complaint, call: 800 – 514 – 0301 (Voice) 800 – 514 – 0383 (TTY)

Deaf & Hard of Hearing Services of FL, Inc.

This is strictly for informational purposes. No Affiliation.