The unknown can be scary. Imagine that you’re doing business as usual, when a customer emails you a request you’ve never gotten before: sign language interpreting services. It’s natural to feel overwhelmed, awkward, and downright unsure how to take the first step. After all, interacting with deaf and hard of hearing people is not a skill taught in most schools – and many businesses overlook budgeting for accommodations, catching them off-guard when the need arises.
With our new training, “Deaf-Friendly Tools: How to Hire and Effectively Work with a Sign Language Interpreter”, we break down the process for you in 30 minutes. Our self-paced online course is taught by dynamic accessibility trainer Amanda Tuite from Access Vine. Amanda will teach you the basics of hiring (and working with) sign language interpreters, including 10 interpreter-tested and deaf-proven strategies for effective communication with your deaf and hard of hearing customers. Launching October 5, this online course also offers students a chance to ask questions they’ve wanted to know, but were afraid to ask. Our training’s “why” is grounded in three philosophies:
#1: While sign language interpreters have exploded in popularity on social media, many people (still) have no idea how to hire one.
There are at least 48 million deaf and hard of hearing people in the U.S., and in recent years sign language is growing on TV, on social media, as a foreign language elective, and at live in-person events.
Many of us have seen at least one viral interpreter sharing the stage with rock stars and politicians.
Sign language interpreters are so visible, yet the process of hiring them remains … invisible. Our training pulls back the curtain to reveal:
- Where to look for an interpreter
- Why professional certifications are important
- How to create a welcoming environment for interpreters and your customers
- What to do before, during, and after an interpreted appointment
- … plus learning about acronyms like “CDI”
#2: Sign language interpreters are not necessary for ALL situations, but are critical in more situations than people realize.
In some cases, writing back and forth on pen and paper or via email is all that’s needed (think: restaurants, cafes, retail stores). But what about special events, financial, legal and medical appointments, and even job interviews? Enter the qualified sign language interpreter.
Thanks to laws like the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the days of having no choice but to rely on loved ones (who may not be qualified) to interpret important appointments are long over. Yet, many deaf and hard of hearing people are still expected to do all the work of hiring an interpreter – or to ask a family member to interpret an appointment.
Of the thousands of consumer reviews on deaffriendly.com, most reviews are positive; but a common reason for negative reviews is a business’ refusal to provide interpreters. Not only is this a loss of opportunity to earn consumer loyalty, it can also be illegal to deny them an accommodation.
#3: Accessibility is a two- (or three) way street
Some think of the deaf or hard of hearing person as the main party in need of interpreting services – and thus they should foot the bill. The reality is ALL parties equally require the interpreter. It may seem strange that a deaf person who speaks well or is known to speechread requests this accommodation. In reality, these two things do not equal good comprehension.
Many businesses have complex business plans, budgets, and even install a ramp … yet may not have factored in deaf and hard of hearing accessibility as a natural cost of doing business.
Luckily there are ways to provide sign language interpreters … WITHOUT racking up a ton of business overhead in the books. This training covers money questions like:
- Who is responsible for hiring and paying interpreters
- What do interpreters cost
- Making the decision: Freelance interpreter vs. interpreting agency?
Businesses are continuing to innovate in the current pandemic, and some have made their customer experience even more accessible along the way. These days, it’s even more of a priority to include deaf and hard of hearing customers. With social distancing barriers and masks still a long-term reality, now is the time to consider the role that sign language interpreters – both virtual and in-person – may have in your business.
We believe that not only is hiring and working with a sign language interpreter easier than it initially seems, we promise it gets much easier once you’ve done it the first time around.