"Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive." Anaïs Nin

Need to change text size? Click one of these:
Small Medium Large Larger Largest

Want to read this post later? Send it to your Kindle reader:

Send to Kindle

Thursday, March 1, 2012

What the Deaf and Hard of Hearing are Looking For

This post is to help businesses and organizations be more "deaf friendly" and appropriate when providing services for deaf and hearing impaired people.

Do you provide interpreters for the deaf and hard of hearing at your events? Make mention on your flyers and on the front page of your website that you do. If you have special events and times when interpreters are available, be sure to post this important information on your front page. If you have classes available, be sure to write, "Interpreters available upon request in advance". This will allow you time to line up a professional interpreter.

When you retain professional interpreters, you're investing in helping bridge communities and building relationships. Your reaching a clientele often overlooked, but when you invest in them, you are investing in future relationships and loyal clients. Don't look at the initial costs in terms of being able to afford this, but rather, how can you not?

Do you have a search form on your website? "New Deafies", or people just starting to lose their hearing don't know slang terms such as "terps" etc.,  Include all these words "Deaf", "hard of hearing", "hearing impaired", "interpreters", "ASL".  If you have "CART" or " Real Time Captions" available, add those words on your search page as well. We use these words when search your site for services or events.

Be sure to provide an email address of a person to contact to handle inquiries from the deaf. It's a bonus if you have someone on staff who is familiar with various relay systems the deaf and hard of hearing may use. There are different systems out there, but the main thing to remember is that someone is on the phone interpreting by Sign Language via Video Relay System, or typing via tty or a caption relay system such as Cap Tel. Those who become deaf late in life will use their own voice, but rely on a Calling Agent or Relay Agent to pass on to them what you are saying.

Be patient while your message is relayed to the caller, and allow extra time for the Calling Agent or operator to relay back to you the caller's response. The most important thing to remember with these kinds of calls is to speak moderately and clearly, and never rush through the call. If there is a pause after you pick up the line, be patient. There will be pauses while the operator or agent tells the caller you have answered the phone, if you are male or female, what you have said and if there are any other sounds in the background such as music playing, people talking or even if there are dogs barking. Their job is to relay all the sounds they hear to the caller. No information is left out. This takes time. It's worth the extra minute or so to connect with a future client. Hanging up on this kind of call only frustrates your potential client. They may or may not keep trying to connect with you.

If you have questions how to do these things, need help with communication and etiquette, look for "Deaf and Hard of Hearing or Deaf and Hearing Impaired Resources" in your local directories. If that doesn't get you connected, contact your local Human Services Resource Center and they will hook you up. Don't be afraid to ask questions or ask for someone to come in and train your staff. You want your staff prepared and professional.

By being visible that you are deaf friendly and welcome hearing impaired people in your community, you will increase the reach of  your clientele. People will come back again simply based on your sheer effort to try your best to meet their communication needs. If we see the effort you are making to reach us on our first visit, you can almost be certain we will be back.

No comments:

Post a Comment