There is no doubt that many people that have special needs often find it hard to get the accommodations that they need in certain public places. However, in a work environment this should be much easier to receive the equipment or services you need as they assist an individual in completing the tasks and assignments that have been set forth by the employer. Unfortunately, still there is a barrier in getting the necessary accommodations for many. Every individual has different needs to be able to perform well and wheelchair ramps and a comfortable chair, is not where these accommodations should stop.
If an employer expects an employee to be productive, it is in the best interest of everybody involved to promote a happy, safe and healthy work environment. Many times this means something extra for a small portion of the employees. This can mean a special floor mat that absorbs shock in a factory environment or an interpreter occasionally for a deaf or hard of hearing employee. There are many regulations for safety accommodations and most employers abide by these rules by the book to the T. However, many times the same employers overlook ADA laws that require companies to provide a clear line of communication for those who are deaf. This is a reasonable accommodation and in most cases is required by law.
The outcome is the same, if you avoid the law, your company could be sued, but many times the penalty for overlooking these types of accommodations are more subtle. The employee may not understand certain topics covered in meetings, they may not be able to be as productive as they otherwise would be or they may not be privy to very important safety instructions. The result of not allowing an individual the right to an interpreter can be very negative and counter productive. Communication is the root of all teamwork and if your office is not allowing a clear line of communication for any reason, this can back fire fast.
The costs of these services should not not be looked at as a unnecessary expense, they should be viewed as a solid investment in the employees future with your company. If productivity, safety and a forward movement in progress are important to your office, these accommodations should be met with a smile. The outcomes will certainly be fruitful for the employee and your organization as well. When employees feel that they have all the tools they need to accomplish their tasks, this can also make for a much happier and more friendly work environment.
If your company is trying to find services that can help them provide sign language interpreting services easier then ever, it may be beneficial to look into video remote interpreting services. When you use a VRI sign language agency, you get much more flexibility when it comes to getting ASL services in your office or place of work. Many companies have also found these services to be the most cost effective to fill the need.
No matter how good a sign language interpreter is, if they are on a video and it is tiny or poor quality, they cannot assist in the way they can when they are unhindered. Many times deaf consumer think that VRI is a bad service solely because they have had a bad experience caused by hardware that is not up to par. If your business takes advantage of VRI interpreting services to communicate with deaf or hard of hearing individuals, you must assure that your tablet or computer is up to snuff.
There are many different standards that are suggested by video remote interpreting companies. Each has their own specifications and they vary rather widely. If you are working with a VRI company currently, it is probably best to adhere to their own setup requirements. Depending on which application is being used to stream the video, this can change. Some video remote sign language services utilize dedicated applications, while others leverage web apps that run inside a web browser window, so there is nothing to install. Depending which way a companies streaming video interpreting service utilizes, there can be a big difference in hardware needs.
VRI Hardware Requirements Checklist
There are some national standards set forth by deaf advocacy groups that should be the baseline across the board. The requirements listed below are simply a culmination of the highest quality standards that are set for by a variety of sources to assure that the quality is at its best when you need to utilize a remote sign language interpreter.
- 17” Monitors or larger are highly suggested
- Screen Resolution 1920 x 1080 and above is preferred for HD video
- Computer with a dedicated video card.
- Onboard video cards are not suggested.
- Late model Intel core processor I5 and I7 preferred
- 8 GB+ of Ram preferred
- Hard Drive 500GB+
- Must have at least 5gb of free space for windows swap file while streaming live video.
- Computer should only be utilized for the VRI while video session is live.
- Hardwired Ethernet internet connection. WiFi can work, but does have more lag is the signal is weak.
Other Possible Options
If there is a dire need and the requirements above simply cannot be met, these are some other options that may be able to provide a reasonable quality of service in a pinch. Again, these are not suggested, but they can offer a way to communicate while your business is working on setting up the needed hardware for future usage.
- 5th Gen iPads or most models of iPad pro can be effective, the screen size can be limiting.
- Laptops with large screens can be used, but very rarely do they have dedicated video cards and many times the on board cameras are not very good.
- Wireless connectivity is generally slower and has more lag time than Ethernet connections. Many mobile devices can only connect to WiFi and this can become a bottleneck in the quality of VRI services, so they should be avoided if possible.
- Cell phones are never a good solution. They are simply too small and do not provide an acceptable accommodation to the deaf and hard of hearing individual.
We hope this checklist helps you find out what area can be improved at your place of business to provide real functional accessibility to deaf employees or deaf patrons of your business. It is important to ask the deaf individual if the current mode of communication is working well for them. Communication is a two way road and if you ask you may find out other simple changes that could be made to make for an even more effected environment in which to communicate with others.