If you’re not a native ASL user, take a minute and think about several specific instances you had to rely heavily on spoken communication.
Was it at a Doctor’s office? A legal situation? Sitting in a classroom? Maybe at a pharmacy where you received very specific instructions for a new prescription. It could have even been at a job where you received training, met with a manager, or had a team meeting? If you were unable to communicate effectively in these instances, your livelihood or even your health could be in jeopardy.
Every day at Deaf Services Unlimited, we work in countless situations like the ones listed above to assist in accurate communications between hearing and Deaf individuals.
According to the Americans with Disabilities Act “The key to communicating effectively is to consider the nature, length, complexity, and context of the communication and the person’s normal method(s) of communication.”
When we say “we go through life with you”, we’re not just talking about births, weddings, and funerals. We see the whole gamut of situations where our services are needed. Think about a first-time home buyer.
In this scenario, a Deaf individual will meet with realtor to communicate desirable locations, budget, housing needs, and stylistic preferences. They will work with their realtor to go to open houses and arrange private showings for days and sometimes months to find a suitable house. The Deaf individual will also work with a banking lender to secure financing. For a first-time home buyer, this will include a lot of explanation on how mortgages work and finding specific financing.
Once the Deaf individual finds his/her perfect house, they will sign a legal offer and typically go into negotiation with the other party. Once an offer is accepted, they will work with a moving company and attend a closing where their realtor and lender meet to transfer ownership of the home.
ADA guidelines would clearly require the use of an interpreter in this situation because of the nature, complexity, and individual’s normal communication method. But what if something gets missed? What if the Deaf individual didn’t realize their offer to buy the house assumed they were paying all closing costs. Or that they needed to bring 10% down in cash to the closing. The financial implications could literally cost the Deaf individual thousands of dollars or the even the ability to buy the home.
At Deaf Services Unlimited, we strive to make all communication clear between all parties and most importantly an equitable experience for all parts of life.