What about the interpreter?

By Robert Cooper

A question I frequently get asked is “What about the interpreter?”   You always have a choice to use or not use an interpreter.  In fact, I use one in certain situations.  There are, however, some very specific situations where I may use highly-technical words and/or I require some privacy – then, I prefer not to use an interpreter. Instead, I use the UbiDuo. Whether I use an interpreter or the UbiDuo, it is my choice.  I don’t let anyone make the decision for me, and neither should you – nor should you feel you must make the same choice as I do.

There is still some confusion relating to accessibility law specifically, what is considered reasonable accommodation, and is it optional or required?   The law gives all responsible entities or places an array of options in providing accessibility.  They don’t have to provide specific accommodations, only reasonable ones.  This doesn’t mean that you have a right to your preferred, specific accessibility option.  On the other hand, it doesn’t prevent you from requesting an option that is more appropriate for you.   Unfortunately, the provider isn’t required to agree with you.  As long as the responsible entity or place offers you reasonable accommodations to achieve effective communication, then that expectation of accessibility is met.  The challenge, however, comes when determining what is considered appropriate and reasonable. 

What deaf and hard of hearing employees must realize is the majority of companies do not want an interpreting budget to accommodate a deaf or hard of hearing employee.  They expect every employee to be independent for themselves on the job.    The UbiDuo is the single accessibility solution for the majority of one on one communication.  The UbiDuo enables deaf, hard of hearing, and hearing co-workers to interact with each other face-to-face.     Also, consider those who are hard of hearing or late-deafened adults who don’t sign.  I am asking that you look at the UbiDuo as the one on one communication solution for deaf, hard of hearing, and hearing employees.

There have been some conflicts where the responsible entities or places made a decision regarding communication accessibility needs without consulting both the employer and the individual consumer.  This is primarily because some people still don’t understand how to apply the laws.  There are those who think one accessibility option should work for everyone, and there are others who may be overreacting because of a previous lawsuit or experience.

Most lawsuits happen because one party refused to be reasonable, remaining closed, when considering access options.  One party feels they offer enough options, an individual feels there aren’t enough options.  Yes, problems can occur on both sides of the fence. 

It is here where we must continue educating those responsible entities, teaching them to ensure that there are multiple accessibility options instead of just one or two.  Having more accessibility options can actually be more cost-effective. A newer access option added shouldn’t limit you from having any other options available to you.

We have also heard that some of you are concerned that the UbiDuo would replace the interpreters.  Unfortunately, this suggestion has become a major misconception about using the UbiDuo.  Whether or not you use an interpreter depends on two things.  One is the limited availability of interpreters, an ongoing and widespread problem, having nothing to do with UbiDuo itself.  Another involves cost and whether or not it is reasonable.  

Let’s look at an example – it really isn’t reasonable for hospitals to provide an interpreter 24 hours a day, during a deaf patient’s stay in the hospital, is it – of course not.  The same would hold true in Emergency admissions – you would not expect an interpreter to be available at all times, but instead expect one to become available at a later time like a couple of hours.

Reasonable consideration should be used in determining how basic accessibility can be provided as you move through a transition or process, and how to bridge the communication gaps until the most appropriate accessibility option becomes available. That is how UbiDuo comes in.

Let’s imagine you and I are in a large room full of many deaf people (including many hard of hearing and late-deafened adults).  You and I both know that not everyone could sign.   In fact, more than 90 percent of people in that room would be unable to sign!  But for the sake of discussion, assume that only half could sign – one half of the room.  Do you think every one of those people could have an interpreter assisting with each individual appointment at the same time - of course not. 

Continuing on, let’s say only half of us in that half room (of the ones that can sign) could get an interpreter. That leaves 75 percent of the people in this room without an interpreter.  What can we do about the 75 percent of people in that room being unable to communicate? 

The UbiDuo allows a greater number of people in that room to communicate individually, even more than any interpreting services could.  The UbiDuo makes this scenario more feasible for a lot less cost and even better it is only a one time cost!  The users who use the UbiDuo will drive down the costs of the interpreter which will allow them to get an interpreter when needed at certain times.   Employers will look at this as the ultimate solution when the users will utilize the UbiDuo for the majority of face-to-face communication and minimizing the use of an interpreter.   This is very cost effective for employers and that is what they are seeking when they hire employees who are deaf or hard of hearing.  It drives the point home that it is better to offer wider array of accessibility options, thereby presenting a win-win scenario for greater number of people.

Back to the original question “what about the interpreter”.  Rest assured that interpreters will always be needed, but so will the UbiDuo and many other accessibility options.  The only requirement should be that the choice remains yours and the other person you are interacting with. 

Lastly, don’t make decisions only for yourself; think about what the other person wants too.   If they want to communicate with you face-to-face now, don’t dictate just what is best for you but for both you and the other person. 

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