There is a wide range of services that provide communication accessibility to individuals with hearing loss in the USA in various areas of their lives:
Please ask deaf/hoh for their communication needs before providing them professional services for events, education, employment. Not all services are one size fit for everyone or every event. Not all deaf/hoh people use sign language or can lipread everything. A volunteer with limited signing or typing skills is NOT qualified to assist a deaf/hoh person at a formal event.
It is advised to ask deaf/hoh people first if they have preferred vendors that they could refer you to before you do a search on your own because some of them may be comfortable working with certain providers.
It is very important to use a professional interpreter or transcriber to provide good quality communication access. A cheap service provider is not necessarily good and may cause communication breakdown. Some professionals may volunteer their skills, but they are not to be taken advantage of for free services all time. Professionally trained service providers work to earn a living, just like foreign language interpreters or any working professional.
Please don’t tell deaf and hard of hearing people to bring someone to assist them. Event organizers and media owners are responsible to make sure that information is fully accessible to them on an equal footing with others.
American Disability Act does not allow event organizers “to charge an additional fee or “surcharge” to disabled persons to cover the costs of auxiliary aids or barrier removal.”
Businesses can deduct their taxes for providing accessibility.
Communication Access Real Time (CART)
It is similiar to court reporting, but used primarily for individuals with hearing loss. Mirabai Knight explains the difference between court reporting and CART writing. CART is used for many settings, including but not limited to: classes, work meetings, workshops, public events, conferences, theaters, plays.
It is best to hire CART writers who use steno machines, not speech recognition. Mirabai Knight explains the reasons in her article, Voice Captioning Versus CART.
A qualified CART writer needs to be able to type at the minimum 225 wpm speed with at least 98% accuracy.
Also, CART is not same as Typewell and C-Print. CART is verbatim and conveys each word that a speaker says. Typewell and C-Print are NOT captioning services – they are meaning for meaning translation (like sign language interpreting) and electronic notetaking services. It may benefit some people who don’t sign and have a hard time following verbatim captioning.
- NCRA – List of qualified CART writers and court reporters located in the USA and worldwide.
There are different kinds of “visual language” interpreters for deaf and hard of hearing people that relay messages by revoicing, signing, and/or cueing:
- Sign language interpreters: Those services are used primarily for people who are fluent in sign language. They do not benefit the majority of people with hearing loss who do not sign.
- Oral interpreters: It is usually used for oral deaf and hard of hearing people who have excellent lipreading skills. However, not all of them benefit well from those services and would prefer CART services.
- Cued speech transliterators: Used for deaf and hard of hearing cuers. Unfortunately, there’s a scarcity of qualified cued speech transliterators available for them. CART services are usually used if cued speech transliteration is not available.
To provide good quality communication access services, it is important to hire qualified interpreters that have both expressive and perceptive skills and a professional demeanor by following the RID’s strict code of ethics. Cheap and inexperienced interpreters may cause communication breakdown. Also, interpreters can only relay information, they do not impose their ideas or make decisions for their deaf and hard of hearing clients.
Used along with sign language/oral/cued speech interpreting services in educational settings because it is hard for a deaf person to write down notes while looking at an interpreter and/or trying to lipread a speaker at the same time. A notetaker is usually a hearing student volunteering their services to take notes for their fellow deaf/hard of hearing classmate and being paid a disability office at a college.
Text, Voice Carry Over, and Video Relay Services
They enable deaf and hard of hearing people to communicate with hearing people on phone. An operator voices out typed or signed messages from a deaf party to a hearing party and types or signs spoken messages from a hearing party to a deaf party.
There are different kinds of relay services that can be used on a TTY (it’s being outdated), any computer, or even mobile phones.
Due to the nature of relay services, there are some delays in conversations. Also, there are cases when hearing people hang up on us thinking it is a telemarketing call. For these reasons, many of us prefer emails, texting, or instant messaging.
Please be patient with relay calls and do not hang up on a deaf people before they have a chance to start the conversation – it is not a telemarketing call.
TV and Theater Captioning
Most of you probably have seen the CC option on many TV sets, DVDs, some online websites (like Hulu.com), and open captions/subtitles in movie theatres. In the USA, it is required by the law that all new TV sets to have a built-in closed captioning decoder. Some theaters also offer captioned movies and plays.