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H&R Block Agrees To Improve Access For Deaf

WASHINGTON (AP) - The nation's largest tax preparation company, H&R Block, agreed Monday to improve its services for deaf and hard of hearing people.

The Justice Department announced that H&R Block had agreed to a nationwide settlement to resolve a complaint filed by a deaf person in San Antonio, Texas, under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

"The agreement will ensure that individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing have equal access to tax preparation services at more than 11,000 offices nationwide," said Thomas E. Perez, assistant attorney general in charge of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division.

In a written statement, H&R Block spokesman Gene King said, "We are happy to put this behind us and concentrate on serving all clients during our 56th tax season."

The company agreed to provide auxiliary aids and services such as sign language interpreters, to train its employees and to enforce policies for communicating with deaf and hard of hearing customers. It will post notices advising customers of their right to request a sign language interpreter or other aid.

The company agreed to pay a $20,000 civil fine and pay the person who filed the complaint $5,000 in damages.

H&R Block, headquartered in Kansas City, has more than 11,000 owned or franchised offices in the U.S.

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