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 Disability Program Navigator: Navigator Frequently Asked Questions 

5(Basic)  How can I ensure communication access in the One-Stop system and in particular, for individuals who are d/Deaf and hard-of-hearing?

(DPN Bi-weekly FAQ - 4-17-064-17-06 . Modified from the 2005 DOL -SSA DPN FAQs )

Under Title II of the ADA and WIA Section 188 , One-Stops must ensure that communications with individuals with hearing or speech disabilities are as effective as communications with others. Although your One-Stops may advertise that they “Provide Auxiliary Aids Upon Request”, they may not understand the wide range of services and devices that this implies. Auxiliary aids can include qualified interpreters, assistive listening systems, handset amplifiers, telephones compatible with hearing aids, open/closed captioning, telecommunications devices (TTY/TDD), Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) services, videotext displays, and note-takers.

To learn more about the types of auxiliary aids people use in your community, start by reaching out to your local *d/Deaf and hard-of-hearing community. Most regions have Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors and Independent Living Specialists who work exclusively with *d/Deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals. These Specialists will have useful resources on auxiliary aids, interpreting and CART services, and adaptive equipment. You may want to form a ‘Communication Access Committee’ to provide a forum for discussion so that One-Stop administrators also have the chance to hear directly from individuals with disabilities. As the facilitator, you can help bring people from different agencies together to collaborate and develop an action plan that addresses communication barriers. Each One-Stop may develop different strategies to address specific needs in the community. The following list provides sample action steps of a communication access plan:

  • Post universal signage throughout the One-Stop to advertise communication access (i.e., picture symbols for TTY , interpreter, or assistive listening device) http://www.gag.org/resources/das.php
  • Research adaptive equipment/technology needs & make recommendations for purchase.
  • Create a database of qualified Sign Language Interpreters & set up procedures to secure & compensate Interpreters in a timely manner.
  • Write/Post/Demonstrate the directions for staff on how to use TTY /TDD and Relay, as well as how to work with a Sign Language Interpreter.
  • Arrange Memo’s of Understanding (MOU) with community providers to provide on-going assistance on communication access (i.e., MOUs with providers who regularly serve individuals who are *d/Deaf & hard-of-hearing).
  • Coordinate staff trainings: Understanding Auxiliary Aids, Deaf Awareness, How to Use a TTY Tips on Working with Individuals who are Hard-of-Hearing or who have Speech Disabilities.


For more information on effective communication strategies:

  • Job Accommodation Network (JAN) - Work-Site Accommodation Ideas for Individuals Who are Deaf or Hard Of Hearing http://www.jan.wvu.edu/media/Hearing.htmlThis document provides work-site accommodation ideas in a number of areas: accommodation ideas based upon a non-inclusive list of functional limitations; examples of issues to consider when embarking on the accommodation process; and work-site accommodation ideas. The end of the document includes links for accommodation examples for individuals with hearing impairments, and a list of resources on Deafness and Hard of Hearing.
  • JAN - Effective Communication: Providing a Sign Language Interpreter under the ADA -
    http://www.jan.wvu.edu/media/adahandbook/FREG3.htmlUnder the ADA there is a requirement to provide effective communication in employment situations, in situations where public services are rendered by government agencies and when goods and services are provided by public accommodations. The ADA does not specifically state that an interpreter must be offered as the method of providing effective communication however, it is important to assess when an interpreter is the appropriate choice for accommodation. This guidance may be useful in deciding whether to have an interpreter present to assist with providing effective communication.
  • Relay Services Fact Sheet: Linking People Who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing to the Workforce http://www.dol.gov/odep/categories/workforce/rs_factsheet.htm
    This fact sheet explains a variety of communication methods that can be used to foster effective communication among all of the involved parties. The purpose of this guide is to provide a better understanding of the variety of methods other than interpreting that can be used to communicate effectively with people who are deaf or hard of hearing, and persons with other speech and communication challenges.
  • Registry for Interpreters (RID)
    The Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, Inc., (RID) is a national membership organization of professionals who provide sign language interpreting/transliterating services for Deaf and Hard of Hearing persons.
  • CART Services (Communication Access Realtime Translation
    The primary purpose of the Communication Access Information Center is to provide information of use to people employing or in need of Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART), also known as realtime captioning. CART is the instant translation of the spoken word into English text using a stenotype machine, notebook computer and realtime software. The text appears on a computer monitor or other display. This technology is primarily used by people who are late-deafened, oral deaf, hard-of-hearing, or have cochlear implants.  
  • Captioned Media Program
    The mission of the Captioned Media Program (CMP) is to provide all persons who are deaf or hard of hearing awareness of and equal access to communication and learning through the use of captioned educational media and supportive collateral materials. The CMP also acts as a captioning information and training center. The ultimate goal of the CMP is to permit media to be an integral part in the lifelong learning process for all stakeholders in the deaf and hard of hearing community: adults, students, parents, and educators.

*TERM: Big “D” Deaf vs. little “d” deaf. Using a capital “D” for Deaf is a cultural distinction, while small “d” refers to physical deafness. You may also see d/Deaf, which refers to both those who have a hearing loss and do not associate with the Deaf culture, as well as those who do follow the culture. Culture results from a group of people coming together to form a community around shared experience, common interests, shared norms of behavior, and shared survival techniques. The essential link to Deaf culture among the American deaf community is American Sign Language and a common sense of pride in their culture and language. For more on Deaf culture - http://www.aslinfo.com/deafculture.cfm..

*TERM: ‘Deaf-first’ language. In the d/Deaf community (which can include d/Deaf, hard-of-hearing, or hearing people), to say 'Deaf person' or 'd/Deaf & hard-of-hearing people' is widely accepted and used by the leaders in this community like the National Association for the Deaf, Registry for Interpreters and Gallaudet University. The belief behind this is that many people in the Deaf community feel that it is good and right to be deaf and saying 'Deaf person' is a positive term, indicative of pride and a communal identity. Some Deaf people prefer 'Deaf person' to 'person who is Deaf', as this is how they identify themselves and do not feel that this labels them as having a disability. In most cases, when reference is made to the d/Deaf and hard-of-hearing community, the Deaf cultural aspect (that is, the term Deaf as a positive identification and not as a disability) takes the lead and cultural rules apply.

Note to DPNs: If you have comments, suggestions or questions relating to the above topic, please email DJ Diamond at ddiamond@ndi-inc.org . They may be added to this FAQ and the archived one on the One-Stop Toolkit website.