State of Illinois
Department of Human Services
The Illinois Department of Human Services' Division of Rehabilitation Services (DHS/DRS) is the state's lead agency serving persons with disabilities. Our staff work one-on-one with individuals who have disabilities and their families to empower them to reach their employment, education, and independent living goals.
One of the most critical challenges facing persons with hearing loss is their ability to access verbal information. DHS/DRS provides specialized services to individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing, late deafened, or deafblind through Rehabilitation Counselors for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. Support services are provided by DRS' Services for Persons who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing unit.
DRS staff enhance the ability of individuals with hearing loss to fully access information by serving as a resource to professionals, state agencies, community organizations, employers, and the public.
The highly trained staff offer information, technical assistance, and support regarding accessibility requirements and guidelines on accommodating the communication needs of persons with hearing loss.
Understanding Accessibility Requirements
People with hearing loss represent one of the largest disability groups in the country with their numbers expected to continue to grow. While hearing loss is a hidden disability that is often unnoticeable, it can create significant barriers to communication.
According to the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, employment settings, government offices, public meetings, public accommodations (such as movie theaters and conventions), and community events must be accessible to all individuals with disabilities, including those with hearing loss.
Although religious organizations are exempt from ADA, many faith-based organizations voluntarily offer assistive listening devices upon request. Employers are only required to make accommodations when a qualified applicant or employee notifies them of their disability and requests an accommodation. According to the ADA employers must make necessary reasonable accommodation for known disabilities of a qualified applicant or employee as long as the accommodation does not impose an "undue burden" on the employer.
Employers who provide reasonable accommodations to their employees with disabilities may qualify for a Federal Tax Credit.
Meeting Individual Communication Needs
Because people with hearing loss have unique needs, it is important to give them the opportunity to select the accommodation that best meets their needs. These accommodations include:
Sign language interpreting services are used by individuals who depend on sign language as their primary mode of communication. To learn how to arrange for sign language interpreters, contact the Illinois Deaf and Hard of Hearing Commission at: 1-877-455-3323 (Voice/TTY) or visit www.idhhc.state.il.us
Computer Assisted Realtime (CART) services are used by individuals who prefer to read the printed word transcribed by a CART reporter and read off a monitor or screen. To arrange for CART services, contact the Illinois Court Reporters Association at: 1-800-656-2467 (Voice/TTY) or visit www.ilcra.org/cart.htm
Assistive Listening Devices (ALD) are used by individuals who can understand speech when it is amplified. ALDs include FM systems, infrared systems, and audio loops. For additional information on ALDs, contact the Illinois Assistive Technology Project at: 1-800-852-5110 (Voice/TTY) or visit www.iltech.org.
For additional information or technical assistance, contact: DHS/DRS Services for Persons who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing Unit at 217-785-9304 (Voice/TTY).
Working Together to Improve Access
We can succeed in making information fully accessible to individuals with hearing loss if everyone works together and does their part.
If you are a person planning a special meeting or community event, you are responsible for:
- Advertising availability of accommodations on all promotional materials;
- Offering a choice of accommodations on event registration forms;
- Contacting consumers who request accommodations to verify arrangements and preferred providers, and
- Providing requested accommodations.
If you are an employer, you are responsible for:
- Communicating with a qualified applicant or employee who requests an accommodation;
- Providing requested accommodations which do not impose an "undue burden" on your organization.
If you are an individual with a hearing loss, you are responsible for:
- Notifying an organization of your accommodation needs several days before a scheduled meeting or event;
- Discussing your communication needs with your employer and working with your employer to address your needs.
For more information:
Call or visit your Illinois Department of Human Services DRS' office or Family Community Resource Center (FCRC).
If you have questions about any Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) program, call or visit your local IDHS/DRS office or FCRC. We will answer your questions. If you do not know where your office is or if you are unable to go there, you may call the automated helpline 24 hours a day at:
You may speak to a representative between: 8:00 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. Monday - Friday (except state holidays) For answers to your questions, you may also write:
Illinois Department of Human Services
Bureau of Customer and Provider Assistance
100 South Grand Avenue East
Springfield, Illinois 62762
Visit our web site at: www.dhs.state.il.us
Programs, activities and employment opportunities in the Illinois Department of Human Services are open and accessible to any individual or group without regard to age, sex, race, sexual orientation, disability, ethnic origin or religion. The department is an equal opportunity employer and practices affirmative action and reasonable accommodation programs.
DHS 4146 (N-11-05) DRS' Communication Access/Hearing Loss
Printed by the Authority of the State of Illinois.
18,000 copies P.O.# 1413