Improving Remote Communication Between Public Benefits Agencies and Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Individuals

Cary LaCheen, National Center for Law and Economic Justice

The National Center for Law and Economic Justice has been contacted a few times over the past few years about deaf and hearing impaired individuals who were unable to communicate effectively by phone with government agencies because of restrictive agency policies prohibiting telephone communication with third parties, poor staff training on how to use TTYs and on the various types of relay services. We were able to resolve the problems we were contacted about, but thought this might be a broader problem. Attached is a link to an recent article on the topic in Clearinghouse Review. The article discusses the legal obligation to provide effective communication with people with disabilities, common barriers experienced by deaf and hard of hearing individuals, other federal laws bearing on telephone access (Section 508 of the Rehab Act and Section 255 of the Communications Act), legal strategies and best practices.