ALEXANDRIA, Va. (WAVY) — A settlement agreement has been reached under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) with Good Neighbor Homes, Inc. (GNHI).
GNHI operates more than 50 group homes for individuals with intellectual and development disabilities (I/DD) in Virginia and is the largest group home operator in the state.
The settlement agreement resolves allegations that GNHI failed to furnish sign language interpreting services during multiple complex and high stakes interactions with one of its residents who is deaf, including interactions in which the resident was supposed to be able to have an opportunity to provide meaningful input regarding her care plan, medical appointments, and incident investigations regarding serious injuries to the resident.
As a result, the resident alleged that she often did not understand what was happening with regard to significant aspects of her life.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office further investigated allegations that GNHI sometimes relied on the complainant’s sister to communicate with her in the absence of a sign language interpreter.
In addition to making significant changes to its policies and practices, GNHI agreed to resolve these matters by paying $225,000 to the resident for whom it failed to furnish sign language interpreting services, $40,000 to her sister, and a civil penalty of $50,000.
To resolve the matters, GNHI agreed to adopt policies that will make its services accessible to individuals with communication disabilities including:
- Designate an ADA Administrator, who will be responsible for ensuring GNHI’s compliance with the ADA.
- Enter into agreements with sign language interpreting service providers to provide services to its consumers who need them.
- Provide training for its personnel on the ADA’s effective communication requirements.
GNHI also agreed to pay damages to the complainant and her sister, and a civil penalty to the United States.
This resolution is particularly significant because group homes are essential to ensuring that individuals with I/DD are able to receive community-based services and be integrated into their communities, and individuals who are deaf are entitled to have access to these services.
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