The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) and any related federal regulations do not apply to the federal courts. See 42 U.S.C. §§ 121131-12132 (applying the ADA Title II public service nondiscrimination requirements only to a “public entity,” defined as “any State or local government,” or “any department, agency, special purpose district, or other instrumentality of a State or States of local governments”). Similarly, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 does not apply to the federal courts. See 29 U.S.C. § 794 (applying the Act only to “any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance or under any program or activity conducted by any Executive agency or by the United States Postal Service”).
Since 1995, the Judicial Conference of the United States, which is the body charged with establishing policies for the federal judiciary, has mandated that all federal courts provide reasonable accommodations to persons with communications disabilities. Specifically, a court “must provide sign language interpreters or other auxiliary aides and services to participants in federal court proceedings who are deaf, hearing-impaired or have communication disabilities and may provide these services to spectators when deemed appropriate.” Guide to Judiciary Policy, vol. 5, § 255.10 (available at http://www.uscourts.gov/rules-policies/judiciary-policies/court-interpreting-guidance). In all other cases, we review disability accommodation requests on a case-by-case basis, and in consultation with the presiding judge, to determine an appropriate solution.
Bonnie Hackler, the Clerk of Court, has been designated as our office’s access coordinator for coordinating accommodations requests. She can be contacted at (918) 684-7910 or Bonnie_Hackler@oked.uscourts.gov.