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Accommodations for the hearing and visual impaired

Making UCC more accessible for people with disabilities

November 18, 2019

An estimated 1 in 4 adults in the U.S.—approximately 61 million Americans—live with some type of disability that impacts their major life activities. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) mandates an accessible workplace for such individuals—an environment in which employees can perform their essential job functions regardless of their disability, as long as that accommodation doesn’t place an “undue burden” on the employer.

UCC accommodations for hearing disabilities
New technologies are leveling the playing field for individuals who are deaf or have difficulty hearing.
  • C-print is a speech-to-text captioning technology developed at the Technical Institute for the Deaf, part of the Rochester Institute of Technology, which provides printed text of spoken English in real-time. A trained operator, known as a captionist, types words as they’re spoken and provides a real-time text display that a hearing impaired person can read.
  • Speech synthesizers provide synthesized voice output of letters, phonemes, words or phrases typed on a keyboard.
  • Automatic speech recognition technology transcribes a person’s spoken message (voiced into a microphone) into text displayed on a computer screen.
  • The videophone, which includes a small camera, TV display and high-speed internet service, enables deaf or hard-of-hearing individuals to sign for themselves and communicate directly with other videophone users.
  • Video Remote Interpreting (VRI) gives the hearing impaired access to a live remote interpreter via video conferencing technology.
  • Relay services facilitate a simultaneous 3-way telephone conversation between an individual with a hearing disability, a communication assistant and a person with normal hearing. The hearing-impaired individual dials into the relay service and provides the phone number he or she wants to call. Once the two parties are connected, the relay operator voices all of the text messages for the hearing person and converts all of his or her verbal replies into text for the person with the hearing disability. The process works in reverse when the hearing person needs to contact the hearing impaired person—the online communication assistant voices to the hearing caller and types to the deaf or hard-of-hearing caller. A Video Relay Server works basically the same way but through a webcam or video instead of a phone.
  • Assistive Listening Systems help individuals who have difficulty hearing in large group settings, at a distance or in noisy environments. These include devices like telephone amplifiers and induction loops, which involve wires circling a given area and connected to an amplifier and the speaker’s microphone—used to increase the volume in meeting and presentation rooms.
UCC accommodations for the blind or visually impaired (BVI)
  • A softphone is software that translates the features of a VoIP phone to a computer, including the ability to make and receive calls with screen readers and magnifiers making the information on the computer screen more readily accessible to a person who’s blind or visually impaired.
  • The following adjustments can be made to the actual VoIP phone technology to accommodate BVI users:
Discernable physical keys featuring different shapes and textures to facilitate memorization
Connecting the phone to an external talking caller ID or accessible voicemail indicator and call login
Softkeys, which are physical buttons that offer audible and/or tactile indications  
–  Large font/high contrast displays that make the phone functions more visible

If you have customers who are looking to make accommodations to their existing UCC systems, contact our expert, Chad Simons.