Celebrating 30 Years of the ADA!

ADA | Americans with Disabilities Act - 30 Year Anniversary
Credit: ADA National Network (adata.org)

On July 26, 1990 the Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law. This landmark legislation was designed to recognize and protect the rights of disabled citizens to have the same access and opportunity in this country as anyone else. This includes opportunities in education and employment, as well as opportunities to participate in everyday life — such as healthcare, banking, recreation, entertainment, or travel — without facing additional barriers.

Of course, with the passing of the ADA the work toward social justice was really just getting started. The ADA was by no means an instant solution to systemic oppression and it did not end disability discrimination, but it has served as an essential toolkit for people to fight for their legally guaranteed rights when necessary.

To celebrate the 30 year anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, people are using the hashtag #ThanksToTheADA to highlight the many ways the world opens up through accessibility. Be sure to follow the hashtag on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram throughout the month of July, and feel free to share your own #ThanksToTheADA moments. We also recommend the following the #ADA30 hashtag and the ADA Action Network (Twitter  | Facebook ) for more updates.

Below you will find additional resources to learn more about the Americans with Disabilities Act and how it has impacted the lives of US citizens for more than 30 years.

WHAT IS THE ADA?

HOW DOES THE ADA RELATE TO DEAFNESS + HEARING LOSS?

ADA AND EMPLOYMENT

ADA Anniversary | Disability Rights are Civil RightsSince 1990, groups and individuals within the Disability Community have worked, advocated, litigated, protested, and lobbied to make incredible advancements toward equal access with the support of the ADA. As time goes on, we are beginning to see inclusive elements being built right into organizations and institutions – from Universal Design in architecture to captions and audio descriptions on web content – people are coming to understand the ways these features can actually benefit EVERYONE! Three cheers to 30 years of progress under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Remote Communication Access for Those Who are Deaf

Best Video Remote Interpreting Services (VRI)The Americans with Disabilities Act passed in 1990 guarantees Deaf and Hard of Hearing Americans the right to access communication in their everyday lives. Those with hearing loss may need accommodations to access communication for medical appointments, attorney meetings, educational opportunities, utility companies, employment meetings, training programs, press conferences and public announcements, or various social services. It is the legal obligation of businesses and organizations to make their goods and services available to all Americans without barriers. The most common accommodations include sign language interpreting, or realtime captioning (CART) services.

People are increasingly managing their lives remotely. To meet the evolving demands of Deaf and Hard of Hearing consumers, many organizations are now exploring the possibilities of Video Remote Interpreting (VRI) Services, as well as Remote Captioning (CART) Service. These services can be utilized to ensure effective communication that meets the ADA requirements for accessibility.

What is VRI?

Video Remote Interpreting (VRI) is a simple and seamless alternative to in-person interpreting service. The only requirements are a video-enabled computer or mobile device and WiFi.

How Does VRI Work?

asl-agency-video-remote-interpreting-services-VRI1. A meeting is scheduled between a Deaf and hearing party.

2. The business or organization contacts an interpreting agency to make a request for VRI Service.

3. The interpreting agency matches the clients with an interpreter based on meeting topic, business type, skill level, and Deaf consumer preferences.

4. The organization is then confirmed for VRI services and an online meeting link is shared. Everyone will simply click this link at the meeting start time.

5. The Deaf individual, the hearing individual(s), and the interpreter are connected on a live video meeting. The hearing party can speak directly to the Deaf consumer. The Interpreter will listen to the hearing speaker and interpret their dialogue into ASL. The interpreter will interpret the Deaf person’s sign language responses into spoken English for the hearing person.

When is VRI Appropriate?

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VRI is a great option for times when an in-person meeting between Deaf and hearing parties is simply impossible. Since those who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing tend to rely heavily on visual cues and body language throughout conversations, it’s always best to engage face to face if that is an option.

Despite any limitations of the technology, utilizing a remote interpreter meets the ADA requirements for effective communication in most situations, and these services can provide critical access for people who use ASL as their primary form of communication.

What is Remote Captioning (CART)?

Remote CART offers highly accurate realtime captioning for meetings, lectures, webinars, conversations, presentations, recorded videos, and more! Host virtual meetings that are accessible to a wide audience using Zoom, Facebook, or other platforms.

How Does Remote CART Work?

top-remote-captioning-services-cart-nyc-usa-04Remote Captioning means the CART Provider is offsite, so two paths of communication take place:

1. The audio from the meeting or event must reach the Remote CART Provider, usually done via telephone or Internet chat, such as Zoom or Skype. In order for the Provider to hear clearly, depending on the type of event, setup, and the layout of the room, a microphone may be needed.

2. The streaming text is delivered in realtime to the Consumer’s web-enabled device – anything from a smartphone to a desktop computer. A secure link is emailed to the client or consumer to click on when the event begins. No downloads are usually necessary. Wifi (or hardwire ethernet) is needed on the receiving end.

The exact technical details of the meeting can be worked out by the stenographer (with the assistance of meeting host) prior to the start of the online event; typically this takes no longer than 30 minutes to ensure a smooth process. The captions are customizable. In most situations the Consumer can change the colors of both the background and text, as well as the size of the letters, to allow for the most desirable viewing.

When Is Remote CART Appropriate?

remote-captioning-cart-video-services-05Remote CART is an excellent way to ensure online offerings are more accessible not only for audiences with hearing loss, but also for those who have learning or cognitive disabilities, people for whom English is a second language, or anyone who has difficulty understanding dialects and accents in audio. Since transcripts can be provided afterward, event organizers can choose to share with attendees who may want to review the content again, or those who may have missed the meeting.

In our changing times, it’s more important than ever that communities work to support one another. As businesses and organizations shift their operations over to virtual offices and remote servicing, we have an opportunity to prioritize accessibility as a built-in feature of society. While companies pivot to digital, we can take the time to ensure our new processes are inclusive right from the ground up!

It’s easy to implement ADA compliant communication access using Remote Interpreters or Remote Captioning. LC Interpreting Services is pleased to offer Video Remote Interpreter (VRI) Services and Remote Captioning (CART) Services for clients anywhere in the country. Contact us today to learn more.

Including Deaf and Hard of Hearing Employees During the Holidays

ways-include-deaf-employees-during-holidays-01The Holidays Season is generally regarded as a time of togetherness and good will. It is a time when we gather to eat, drink, and be merry with the many people who enrich our daily lives. Unfortunately, the holidays can also be a time when those who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing are further marginalized at plays, pageants, parties, dinners, and other events when they are not able to access communications. These social gatherings— where stories, jokes, and common experiences are shared— are important for building rapport and creating strong relationships. Ensuring holiday events are inclusive for those with hearing loss is an easy way to embrace the true spirit of the season!

HEARING LOSS IN SOCIAL SETTINGS

In situations where there is a lot of background noise (such as music or other conversation) or when there are multiple people speaking, especially all at once, those who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing will struggle to keep up with conversation. After years of being excluded from conversations, they may fall back on smiling and nodding along, laughing when everyone else does, when in truth they have lost the thread entirely.

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In professional settings it is extremely common for those who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing to be left out of Holiday events by coworkers and managers who simply haven’t even considered their abilities and limitations. While office parties and seasonal outings may not seem like a big deal, employees with hearing loss can miss chances to build personal bonds with coworkers, and lose valuable opportunities to network with new professional colleagues. In these settings, hearing employees gain an advantage because they are able to gain an understanding of professional dynamics and office politics by observing the subtle communications between peers and management, while those who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing are left to fill in the blanks.

CREATING INCLUSION

questions-answers-faq-deaf-employees-during-holidays-03Simply considering the fact that those who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing have different communication needs is the first step toward creating an inclusive Holiday Season. Since deafness exists on a spectrum, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for bridging the communication gap; each individual has their own way of adapting to life in a predominantly hearing society. One person who is Hard of Hearing with cochlear implants might only use only verbal communication, while another may prefer American Sign Language. Some Deaf individuals use ASL, while others are exceptionally skilled lip readers who can voice for themselves.

As a rule, the best way to begin creating full communication access for those who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing is to just ask those individuals how they prefer to be accommodated! This is an easy, yet often overlooked, way to develop meaningful connections. Involving employees in the process of creating inclusion can open up a dialogue about hearing loss and accessibility in the workplace that makes Deaf or Hard of Hearing employees feel respected and valued.

“I attempt to communicate with hearing and deaf people every day to break barriers,” Vicky Foster explains. “However, to have hearing people, who lack knowledge on Deaf culture, continue to exclude us from workplaces and social events instead of learning to communicate with us — they miss out on this unique and authentic culture of ours.”

DEAF-FRIENDLY HOLIDAY EVENTS

A person with hearing loss is inevitably going to struggle to keep up with conversation at a holiday cocktail party in a dimly lit bar where 3 people are speaking at once in a room that has an echo. Taking into account the acoustics of a venue or the layout for an event can go a long way toward creating accessibility. For example, choosing a round table for dinner gives Deaf/ HoH individuals a better opportunity to read the lips, gestures, and facial cues of everyone around them. Selecting an adequately lit location where sounds do not bounce around can save Deaf/ HoH attendees a literal headache. Small adjustments like this can be made at little to no cost.

including-deaf-hard-hearing-employees-during-holidays-04For Deaf individuals whose primary language is ASL, a sign language interpreter will typically be the most effective means of ensuring communication access. Hiring interpreters can provide both Deaf and hearing staff with the ability to freely communicate during casual holiday gatherings, which demonstrates a commitment to including all team members in conversation. By recognizing that there are professional repercussions for being left out of social interactions, and addressing this issue head on, organizations can foster cultural awareness and cultivate space for greater diversity among their workforce and clientele.

On the other side of the equation, it’s critical to ensure that hearing employees are comfortable and confident interacting with a person who is Deaf or Hard of Hearing— especially if that person is their colleague!

“I have attended several [office] holiday parties- and always sat with my coworkers who were deaf or even socialized with our interpreters for the party,” says Diana Abayeva, a Social Worker who is Deaf. “No other hearing individuals socialized with us or asked us to participate in games. as a result of this, i do not enjoy attending holiday parties at work.”

Too often, those who are unfamiliar with the experience of hearing loss and Deaf culture aren’t intentionally excluding their Deaf/ HoH peers, they simply feel awkward and unsure about how to approach this person or hold a conversation. Once hearing employees understand that they can gently tap a person who is Deaf/ HoH to get their attention, that they may need to face Hard of Hearing individuals directly while speaking (and be prepared to repeat themselves!), or how to work with sign language interpreters, these staff members can start to really integrate.

ways-include-deaf-employees-during-holidays-05“My biggest struggles at work are centered on not catching everything, causing me not being able to participate as I would like to,” said Claire Scanlon, who is Hard of Hearing and uses primarily oral communication. “My inability to participate and prove my impact on the organization is severely affected by my inability to catch everything being said.”

By empowering all employees with the cultural awareness and tools they need to effectively bridge communication gaps, a business begins to establish a foundation for full inclusion. More professional networking opportunities and genuine connections can remove barriers to advancement, improve morale, and set Deaf and Hard of Hearing employees up for long-term career success!

HOW LCIS CAN HELP

We enjoy working with organizations of every type to find new ways to establish an accessible, welcoming environment for Deaf and Hard of Hearing employees during the Holiday Season, and every time of year!

Click here to learn more about Cultural Competency Training, or to refer a company for our training programs! We offer training from Deaf and Hard of Hearing consultants that can be custom tailored to meet the access and inclusion needs of any business. Our programs are offer results individually, or can be combined to create a comprehensive ongoing training program that can be streamlined into any existing organizational processes.

Mark Your Calendar: International Week of the Deaf

international-week-of-the-deaf-2019-1For more than 60 years, the global Deaf community has united during the last full week of September to raise awareness about Deaf culture, Deaf language, and Deaf issues. International Week of the Deaf 2019 will run from September 23 through September 29 and will be celebrated by Deaf individuals from hundreds of countries around the world!

International Week of the Deaf first began in 1958 as a commemoration of the first Congress of the World Federation of the Deaf. Recently added to this exciting week-long event is the International Day of Sign Languages, which is celebrated each year on September 23, marking the date that the World Federation of the Deaf was established in 1951.

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The theme of this year’s International Week of the Deaf is: Sign Language Rights for All! According to the World Federation of the Deaf “the campaign theme ensures that no one in the Deaf Community is left behind. It calls for decision makers to give linguistic rights to deaf people and all sign language users.” It is the position of the World Federation of the Deaf, as well as the National Association of the Deaf, and most Deaf education advocates around the globe, that access to sign language is a human right for those who have hearing loss, and denial of sign language is a form of oppression. The WFD Charter on Sign Language Rights for All elaborates on this in great detail.

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Time and again, studies have shown that there are only benefits for teaching signed languages to Deaf and hard of hearing individuals; particularly that early acquisition of a non-verbal language can help form neural pathways and mental processes that are critical for intellectual and emotional development in children. This year, WFD has assigned a specific sub-theme to each day. The schedule can be found below:


INTERNATIONAL WEEK OF THE DEAF 2019 SCHEDULE

Monday 9/23: Sign Language Rights for All!

Tuesday 9/24: Sign Language Rights for All Children

Wednesday 9/25: Sign Language Rights for Deaf Senior Citizens

Thursday 9/26: Sign Language Rights for Deafblind people

Friday 9/27: Sign Language Rights for Deaf Women

Saturday 9/28: Sign Language Rights for Deaf LGBTIQA+

Sunday 9/29: Sign Language Rights for Deaf Refugees


For additional information on the importance of each day, be sure to check out the Guidelines on Achieving Sign Language Rights for All!

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The week kicks off on the International Day of Sign Languages and dives deeper each day into specific populations. This will allow a more intersectional exploration of deafness and language rights issues within the extremely diverse Global Deaf Community. The following social media accounts may be posting updates, information, and discussions throughout International Week of the Deaf:

Official Hashtags: #IDSL2019 #IWDeaf2019

LCIS ( Twitter | Facebook )
National Association of the Deaf ( Twitter | Facebook )
Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf ( Twitter | Facebook )
Deaf Women United ( Twitter | Facebook )
National Black Deaf Advocates ( Twitter | Facebook )
Rochester Institute of Technology – National Technical Institute of the Deaf ( Twitter | Facebook )
Gallaudet University ( Twitter | Facebook )
Why I Sign ( Facebook )

Language rights for those who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing is a topic that cannot receive enough coverage. The World Health Organization estimates that around 466 million people worldwide have a disabling hearing loss — about 5% of the population — and that number does not include those living with mild to moderate hearing loss. For too long, the communication needs of this community have been disregarded, and as a result decisions about their health, their education, and their lives have been made without their fully informed consent.

international-week-of-the-deaf-2019-6The truth is that Deaf / HoH people can achieve whatever they put their minds to when they are able to access the world around them. Renowned Deafblind advocate Haben Girma stands as a testament that there are NO limits for those with disabilities, except for the narrow minds of those who cannot imagine new ways to accomplish things. Girma is a graduate from Harvard Law School, a surfer, a salsa dancer, a world traveler, and a published author who has been Deafblind since childhood.

More examples of incredibly talented Deaf individuals can be found in any of the articles below!

world-federation-of-deaf-logo-intl-week-deaf-5As people continue to acknowledge and then disassemble the old structures of oppression which make assumptions about a person based on their race, culture, language, gender, age, sexual preference, or disability, hopefully we will begin to see communication accessibility woven into the very fabric of society. Communication creates connection, and what the world needs now is unity!

Why Cultural Competency Training Matters

best-cultural-competency-training-consultant-nyc-01The experiences of marginalized people are being shared more widely than ever thanks to social media. This is certainly true within the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community, where people from all backgrounds can utilize various platforms to connect with an engaged audience and publicly share their everyday lives, their success stories, and unfortunate personal experiences of injustice.

Sometimes incidents of discrimination can occur at a business, which then places that organization under scrutiny for practices that limit diversity. This could be a cashier who mocks a Deaf customer, such as this unfortunate example, or perhaps or a supervisor who doesn’t give their Deaf/ HoH employee a shot at promotion because there’s no verbal connection, nor interpreting services provided for professional development workshops.

top-ada-compliance-consultant-usa-02Every employee at an organization — whether they are in Human Resources, Customer Service, or Tech Support — serves as a public representative of that business. An employee’s behavior can have a direct financial impact, as well as a long term impact upon brand reputation. When employees receive the kind of training that enables them to make culturally competent decisions on the job, they are empowered with the tools they need to create and maintain productive relationships.

No one can speak to the trials and triumphs of a marginalized community better than a member of that community. The most effective Cultural Competency Training is facilitated directly by those who have firsthand experience navigating specific systems of oppression. Here at LCIS, we utilize the skills of Deaf and Hard of Hearing consultants to offer unique insight through our engaging cultural competency training programs. Employees are encouraged to ask questions and engage in candid dialogue with Deaf and Hard of Hearing consultants in an educational setting where confidence can be developed.

top-ada-compliance-deaf-HoH-low-vision-consultant-usa-03A thorough cultural competency training program can benefit any organization. By offering employees the opportunity and support to learn, inclusion efforts establish loyal relationships with employees and customers. Additionally, these professional development programs demonstrate a real commitment to social integrity. Effective cultural competency training fosters a more multicultural environment moving forward, where culturally competent HR managers are able to attract, hire, and promote talented candidates representing a variety of marginalized identities; which in turn welcomes even more diversity!

best-ada-compliance-deaf-consultant-new-york-04Proper cultural competency training is an investment in the very foundation of an organization. By offering employees these opportunities and support to grow, companies can build awareness right into their corporate culture. As some businesses discover the hard way, it’s much better to get ahead of social progress than to fall behind and risk having employees without training representing the company in a way that is not true to its values.

Click here to learn more about Cultural Competency Training, or to refer a company for our training programs! We offer customized training from Deaf and Hard of Hearing consultants to help organizations of any size develop meaningful connections with the Deaf and HoH community: including employees, customers, and clients.

So You Want to Be A Deaf Interpreter?

American views on disabilities are slowly evolving, and our society is finally beginning to acknowledge and accommodate the diverse needs of a diverse population. Because mainstream awareness about the Deaf community is on the rise, Deaf interpreting is a growing career field with increasing demand. There is a shortage of Deaf Interpreters, even in major… Continue Reading

Realtime Captioning Services For Events: What is CART?

Live captioning services can provide those who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing with full access to presentations, lectures, or videos that they would otherwise struggle to understand. But really: every attendee at an event can benefit from captioned content! Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) — more commonly known as Live Captioning, or Realtime Captioning… Continue Reading

5 Deaf Accessibility Solutions We Hope to See in 2018

Our society was designed from the ground up to accommodate the needs of able-bodied individuals, so there are times when everyday situations can become a struggle for those who are deaf. There are barriers to basic access that limit the rights and freedoms of those who can not hear, subtly perpetuating an existing structure of… Continue Reading

Accessibility for Medical Practices

I can recall a number of times throughout my childhood when my mother and siblings were turned away from receiving medical care simply because they were deaf. Sometimes they would arrive to a scheduled medical appointment where there were just no interpreters or accommodations, or other times they’d be denied the opportunity to even schedule… Continue Reading

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