Removing Communication Barriers for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
As we begin to think about returning to the hustle and bustle of a post pandemic world, it would be refreshing to think we have gained some learning around the importance of connecting and fully engaging in society. It brings to mind inclusion and what that really means.
Professor George Dei worded it beautifully:
Inclusion is not bringing people into what already exists; it is making a new space, a better space for everyone.
A New Business Standard?
One of the proactive ways businesses can act on inclusion is to provide communication accessibility for the Deaf and hard of hearing. With the reading of the Accessible Canada Act in 2018, https://www.parl.ca/DocumentViewer/en/42-1/bill/C-81/royal-assent many businesses will eventually be required to provide complete accessibility for all. Wouldn’t it be great if every business acted now and made complete accessibility their standard? There is a variety of worthwhile technology businesses can turn to for Deaf and hard of hearing accessibility.
What Does Accessibility for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Look Like?
A Counter Loop system (also called an induction loop or hearing loop) is a cost-effective, assistive listening system businesses can easily provide. The technology works with telecoils, using an electromagnetic field to transmit sound directly to personal hearing aids and cochlear implants, without the interference of background noise. The portable and compact unit available at the DHA eStore, can sit at a bank teller window, information desk, store counter or anywhere people need to hear what is being said. Businesses identify the presence of the counter loop(s) by posting the universal induction loop sign in their space. Both customers and employees would benefit from this device.
For Alberta businesses, virtual American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters are available at a moment’s notice. When Deaf customers arrive, they can expect the same level of customer service as anyone else. The business can log into Virtual Remote Interpreting (VRI) on Demand. This service allows the person serving the customer to bring up an ASL interpreter on a computer screen, to interpret the interaction between the customer and business representative. With a few clicks of a button, the ASL interpreter appears, and the customer is served.
The same service can be used between business colleagues to communicate at meetings or even in day-to-day conversation.
Inclusion is an Action
Taking the step to purchase accessibility equipment or services is a proactive business strategy. It gives businesses an edge that makes them stand out as inclusive workplaces and service providers. Whether it’s serving food or offering an inviting place to stay for the night, purchasing accessibility equipment or accessing ASL interpreters is a giant step towards inclusion.
For more information on assistive technology, visit the Counter Loop page https://estore.deafandhearalberta.ca/collections/counter-loops or go to the ASL Interpreting Services page on the Deaf & Hear Alberta Website. https://deafandhearalberta.ca/interpreting-services/