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>> TOM WENDT: I'm going to go ahead and get started. My name is Tom
Wendt. I'm the legal director for the center for disability and elder
law and the chair of the Legal Aid Committee. We have a really
interesting topic of something that we looked at at the Legal Aid
Committee a couple years ago.
And glad to see a bunch of people made it out today. Those of you
watching on the Web cam, you're smarter than the rest of us.
And there is a PowerPoint for today.
So if anyone didn't grab one, there's some on the table. And they're
also posted.
We're going to be talking about today is ADA compliance in our law
offices. And what are some of the legal requirements and some
practical tips for making offices ADA compliant and working with
clients with disabilities.
The Americans with Disabilities Act was enacted 1990. And the goal
was to ensure that.
Its a he important that we as legal aid attorneys and legal aid
organizations be as accessible as possible to our clients and
specifically clients with disabilities. The objective of this meeting
is for us to look at some of the issues that arise with dealing with
making accommodations for people with disabilities and to arm the Legal
Aid Committee with the knowledge necessary to provide more effective
services to -- and better communicate with clients who may have vision
impairments or be low vision or have hearing impairments, et cetera.
During the program the speakers will provide an overview of some of
the legal and ethical requirements of representing people with
disabilities as well as practical advice and resources that may be
available regarding physical and communication access. Understanding
appropriate accommodations and improving website accessibility.
Which if that sounds like an ambitious agenda, it is.
But we have a terrific panel and hopefully will get through as much
of the material as we can.
On our panel we have Rachel Arfa, a staff attorney with Equip for
Equality, who is working in the protection advocacy for beneficiaries
of Social Security project -- she is the Social Security project
manager at Equip for Equality.
Which is Illinois governor designated protection and legal advocacy
organization for people with disabilities.
Her work focuses on negotiating employment discrimination and civil
rights cases. She has a profound hearing loss and wears bilateral
cochlear implants.
Our second speaker is Karen Aguilar, the executive director for the
Midwest Center on Law & the Deaf.
Karen has a master's in jurisprudence and health law from Loyola. As
executive director of MCLD she trains attorneys, Judges and police
officers about the rights of persons who are deaf and hard of hearing.
And educates the deaf community about the rights under state and
federal law.
She has presented regionally, nationally and internationally and
received numerous honors for her work. She has been signing since
childhood, is a state licensed interpreter, and our third presenter is
Kim Borowicz, a staff attorney at Access Living, she's been a staff
attorney since 2008. Kim pursued a law degree with the hopes of
becoming a disability rights advocate and presumably has achieved that.
Her work focuses on representing people with disabilities in housing
discrimination cases. I would like to introduce Rachel first as our
first presenter.
>> RACHEL: Thanks, Tom, for that introduction.
Thank you to the CBA, and the legal community for having us
here. My name is Rachel Arfa, I'm an attorney at Equip for Equality.
I'm also profoundly deaf. And today we have over here the realtime
captioning projected on the screen.
And this is what I use to follow everybody else's presentation during
the meeting.
It's kind of -- on this side of the room, if you want to see the
captioning you should feel free to move.
The other thing is that because of my hearing loss, I talk with an
accent. It's sometimes -- if I'm talking too loud, or I'm talking too
fast, I need your help if you can tell me.
If I'm -- need to speak up, please let me know. Or if you need me to
repeat what I'm saying, I'm happy to do that. It doesn't hurt my
So today we're going to talk about how we can make our organizations
accessible to people with disabilities.
What am I pressing?
>> That's okay.
>> RACHEL: Okay. Today we're going to talk about what laws apply to
people and organizations, to make them accessible to people with
disabilities. The Americans with Disabilities Act was passed in 1990.
And expanded in 2008, the definition of what makes somebody with a
disability disabled. This was in response to federal courts decisions
that -- the definition of disability, because now in 2008 ADA
amendments Act, that definition is much broader. So the ADA prohibits
discrimination on behalf of people with disabilities.
Also in Illinois we have some laws that we have to apply,
antidiscrimination laws that we should keep in mind when representing
clients with disabilities. This includes the Illinois human rights
Act. The Cook County human rights ordinance, the Chicago human rights
ordinance and another rule that applies in the Illinois Supreme Court
rules of professional conduct, where attorneys, they have some
requirements that they have to follow as well.
This is an overview of the Americans with Disabilities Act. There
are five titles. Today we're going to focus on two of them. The first
title prohibits discrimination in employment. Title II applies to
state and federal -- local government entities. Those have to be
accessible. Title III, which we're going to talk about, which applies
to what we talk about today, is for places of public accommodation,
have to be accessible.
Title IV requires relay services which is a way that deaf and hard of
hearing people can talk on the phone.
Title V has a variety of sections regarding retaliation, protection.
So today we're going to talk about Title II -- sorry, Title III. And
the reason for that is that attorneys' services and offices are
considered a place of public accommodation under Title III. One thing
about Title II, if you're representing a client with a disability in
court or in some kind of administrative hearing, the state and local
government that you appear in front of, they reqire the administrative
entity to provide accommodations for people with disabilities. And
sometimes as atorneys we need to advocate to make sure the clients
receive those accommodations. The Illinois general's disability rights
bureau does a lot of work around the state to help it to be accessible.
If you run into trouble there, that's a good resource.
And so hee’s the law, Title III of the ADA. Provides that places of
public accommodation, shall take steps to ensure that no individual
with a disability is excluded or denied service, segregated or
otherwise treated differently than other individuals because an absence
of auxiliary services provided.
As attorneys, we have obligations to make legal services accessible
to people with disabilities under the ADA and under our ethics rules.
As attorneys we have these ethical obligations but the rules of
professional conduct like RPC 5.3, extends to our staff to make sure
that staff treatment of people with disabilities is in line with ethics
rules. The rules use the word "compatible" with the professional
obligations of the lawyer.
This rule goes on to define assistants and secretaries,
investigators, law students and paraprofessionals.
So how do we make sure you're accessible -- from the first moment
that somebody
calls your office or tries to come into the office, basically, you want
to make sure that you are accessible, from the second they open the
door and that there's no barrier. And sometimes you may not meet the
person at the front, it might be an employee. You want to make sure
you train your support staff on how to communicate with people with
disabilities, how to explain obligations to be accessible under the
ADA. And another issue that will allow people to make phone calls.
Deaf and hard of hearing people use the video relay service.
And in regards to using a TTY, a lot of people who are deaf and hard
of hearing use a various relay services. And they call up, and hello,
this is video relay operator 1234, I have a call from a deaf person.
A lot of times you'll think you're getting calls from telemarketing
or spam -- there's something unusual but it doesn't sound normal.
Sometimes people – sometimes somebody is trying to access your legal
services and sometimes the staff say we don't provide sign language
interpreters. And then the staff person hangs up. So the person with
the disability can't even access these services by telephone. So make
sure that your staff know and understand how
to do a relay call and how to communicate. There is a little bit of a
time delay. But this is – main way a person with a hearing loss will
have access and be able to have conversation with you. Some people do
use a TTY, which means they might be typing back and forth with you,
and are likely to be using a TTY, especially if they're calling
from a prison, they may not have access to the Internet. Be patient
with those calls. They're trying to access the important services that
you have to offer.
Another thing you want to do is think about the forms that you
provide. Maybe your organization has sign-in sheets. Somewhere to
sign in officially. Offer to help them with the form. Provide an
alternative format. And Kim will talk more about that.
Be sensitive with the visually impaired person to use a sign-in
sheet. If they're not able to read on their own, provide some
And another thing that comes up often is maybe your organization is
not the right organization to provide services, maybe that isn't your
you want to make sure that you refer to someone who is easy to find.
Sometimes I have been looking for information for the self help desk
and I look up the online listing which leads to the self-help desk
listed in a library with no contact person listed. And I have spent an
hour trying to figure out who the point of contact is. If it's hard
for me to find out the point of contact, it's probably going to
be hard for the person who's calling. So I try and make sure that they
can find the right person by referring an easy-to-find source. This is
important because they may need to ask for reasonable accommodation.
Another issue is to evaluate your website on the issue of website
access is divided among different court districts. The United States
Department of Justice is evaluating the recommendation of website
access. And we expect them to come up with new guidelines on what
website accessibility looks like.
But in the meantime you want to look at a website and make sure your
videos are captioned or they have a transcript.
If you use a podcast, make sure you have a transcript listed and you
also want to have your other forms for the format which are
When representing a client with a disability, you want to ask what
kind of accommodation the person needs. Ask the question, but don't
assume that you know what kind of accommodation the person needs. This
is -- a person with a disability has gone through a lot of trying to
figure out what they need. Provide that accommodation.
And just because you have met someone who is almost exactly like the
person who has the same disability, don't assume that one thing that
works with that person also works with the other person. Everybody has
different needs that they go by.
Here's one example of an attorney who did not provide appropriate
accommodation. The individual complained against the attorney with the
Department of Justice. It was a family law case. The person asked for
the attorney to provide a language interpreter. The attorney did not
understand. He used a relay service. And he expected the client to
lip read. Here's what happened. The client didn't understand what the
meaning -- and the attorney at times used the client's sister, who was
not a qualified interpreter to interpret.
So the DOJ investigation found that the attorney did not provide
effective communication. The methods that were used to communicate -they had a sign language interpreter. And the attorney charged the
client for this extra time. Which could have taken less time if the
interpreter was provided. As a result, the attorney was ordered to pay
a fine. And the attorneys fees were ordered waived.
Be sure that you provide the accommodation and service.
So as attorneys, we also have to think about our roles in advising.
And to use a professional conduct to.
To think about the economic, social, political factors that apply to
the client's situation.
These will include social background – Karen will talk more about
this, but when you represent deaf and hard of hearing clients there's a
wide range of activities related to hearing loss, because you might
have someone who looks like they can talk and wear hearing aids or
cochlear implants. I myself have bilateral cochlear implants. And
compared to someone who doesn't speak and they communicate through
American Sign Language, there's an identity and exposure results in a
different distinct life experience and that influences attitudes about
So you better be aware of these cultural differences. You're also
going to have an idea what the person's main means of communication is
-- if you're using sign language interpreter, you don't expect the
interpreter just to be able to explain the terminology you use -- you
need to make sure that you break down the language for the client and
not rely on the interpreter to do so.
Another issue comes up with confidentiality. We all know that you're
not supposed to talk about our clients' case. But it's also coming up
when you're talking about disability. Even for people who have hidden
disability, they don't want anybody to know about their particular
disability. Even if somebody does have a disability that's obvious,
there may be parts of that disability that they don't want other people
to know about. So you have to make sure that you will keep that
confidential and check with them on what information can be disclosed.
Another issue that comes up, sometimes that information from the
client about the disability is shared with a family member who is not
disabled. You want to make sure that you have the client with the
disability's permission before you share information with their family
members. Including anybody who's in the room.
Finally, another issue that's come up is the issue of informed
consent. I represent a client, she was asked to sign a form. And she
had a visual impairment and she asked them to read the form. They said
no. And she didn't know what was in the form, consent form. But
that's not really informed consent -- she couldn't even access what the
form was.
So you want to make sure that the form is accessible.
It is -- thinking of somebody who's not able to read or
see the document, but also to someone who may not have the language to
process what is in the document. Make sure that you break down the
language and make it accessible.
So then comes to the end, I'm going to turn this over to Karen now.
And if you have any questions, here's my email. And phone number.
You can give me a call. Thanks.
>> KAREN: Thank you. Can everybody hear me okay?
My name is Karen Aguilar, I'm from the Midwest Center on Law & the
Deaf. And I'm going to talk about some real life situations when a
deaf person actually comes into your office and how you're going to
communicate with the deaf person.
First I'm going to quickly talk about some labels that are used for
people with a hearing loss and you'll hear a lot of these. I'm going
to talk about what's politically correct but I want you to take the
lead of the person with the hearing loss, you can decide what to call
the person. You'll hear the terms deaf, written with a capital D, a
lower case d, heard of hearing, hearing impaired, hearing loss,
deaf-blind. For the purpose of today I'm going to use the terms deaf
and hard of hearing and mostly deaf. The term hearing impaired really
isn't used that much anymore and can be considered offensive. So I'm
not going to use that term for today. If a deaf person calls themself
hearing impaired, go for it. Use it.
But I'm going to for today use the word deaf, hard of hearing.
How will deaf people communicate with you?
These are the ways that I'm going to go over today and I will a he
give you tips for these and some resources and ways to get the
accommodations in your office for these different ways to communicate
with deaf people. The first is through a sign language interpreter.
We have an interpreter right here. Anytime during the next half hour
or so you can look at the interpreter. She'll feel your eyes on her.
Lip reading or speech reading, which is how Rachel sometimes
communicates, through listening devices which are hearing aids or
cochlear implants or a listening device with a microphone and hearing
piece. Through CART or captioning which you see over here on the small
screen to the right. Writing back and forth is sometimes used in a
quick situation, and through the relay service, which if we have a
couple of minutes, Rachel and I will show you at the end of the today.
The definition of a qualified interpreter under the ADA is an
interpreter who can receptively and expressively -- look at the deaf
person, signs, understand them, and also voice them. Which means that
they can also hear my words and sign them to the deaf person. It means
that they're also unbiassed, it's not a family member. Do not ask a
family member to come in and interpret for a deaf person you're working
with. Also that they're effect at this and accurate.
And especially in a legal system -- situation, that means they can
accurately sign legal terms for you as well.
We also have a state licensure law which means all interpreters
working in the state have to be licensed.
This is a quick site writing sample of a deaf person I communicated
with. I'll quickly read it for you. This is a person who grew up
using American Sign Language. Which means that written English is
really their second language. I wait for processing ADA, one month too
long. You know ADA. I think any person work job much maybe denied.
Board afford service interpreter. What doing complain, waste time wait
2 months. Any question, ADA accept order? I will hear soon. I will
be happy.
Most of your clients are going to have American Sign Language as
their first language and second language will be English. Most of your
clients I'm going to generalize right now and stereotype -- are not
going to be like Rachel.
They're going to be low income, culturally deaf adults who have
probably graduated from high school, some from college. But basically
are educational -- our educational system has failed them, passed them
from grade to grade and they probably graduated with, many of them a
reading and writing level like this.
So if they've asked you, for example, for a sign language
interpreter, please give it to them. Writing back and forth is not
going to be effective for them.
All right?
Tips for working with an interpreter. Let the deaf person decide
where to sit. They'll sit probably where they can see the interpreter
and the speaker. And possibly the PowerPoint, if it's a situation like
this -- this actually this morning was a little hard to figure out for
the interpreter, where can we sit where we can see the PowerPoint and
the presenter and be in a situation where there's lighting, the
presenters and so forth.
A large group, only one person can speak at a time. It's impossible
for an interpreter to sign for two people speaking at the same time.
When I'm talking to the deaf person, I shouldn't be looking at the
interpreter and talking. I should maintain eye contact with the deaf
It's actually quite rude to be looking at the interpreter or somebody
else. It's respectful to look directly at the deaf person.
Once the meeting begins, continue at a normal pace. If the
interpreter is behind, the interpreter will let you know. If you need
to repeat something or if you need to slow down.
Everything will be interpreted. And should be interpreted. That's
the interpreter's job.
So if I'm in a meeting with a deaf person and the interpreter is
there and the phone rings, maybe the meeting is taking longer than
expected, or if you're frustrated with the situation like with any
client and my phone rings and I'm on the phone and God, this is taking
for ever, or I have to pay for this interpreter because God, it's an
extra $100 for this interpreter to be here. The interpreter is
interpreting everything I'm saying. Be very careful. All right?
And by the way, CART did everything as well.
If the client has low language skills like you just saw might be
important to have a second interpreter there, a CDI, certified deaf
interpreter. Maybe someone moved here from another country, learned
only home signing growing up, regular sign language interpreter is not
good enough. One sign language interpreter signing regular American
Sign Language signs and a second deaf interpreter here taking the
regular signs and dropping it down even more.
To lower language skills.
For that deaf person to understand.
Now, if I'm here and the interpreter is here and I'm curious about
how she learned line language, I wouldn't walk up to her and say how
did you learn sign lake?
I'm talking to you. Can you tell me how you -- and this has happened
to me before. No, I'm actually talking to you. How did you learn sign
Can you tell she keeps signing and she's not answering me?
That's exactly what she's supposed to be doing.
So don't have a conversation with the sign language interpreter.
Once the job is totally over and everybody has left, if the interpreter
is still around, you can ask her. But not during a job to have a
conversation with her.
Don't coach the interpreter. Had is also happened to me. One time
we were about to start a meeting, and the hearing person said to me,
you can start signing now.
It's like, thank you for letting me know. I know that.
And also one time this person said in a different situation, the
person said to me, you mow, if you use more signs, he would understand
you better.
And this person who knows sign language. I thought thank you very
much. That's wonderful advice.
I think it's important to have one person in your office have the
relationship with the interpreter agency or now how to schedule a sign
language interpreter for you. This helps with billing especially so
you don't have two people calling and scheduling interpreters from two
different agencies. It's important to have that one person scheduling
an interpreter because that person is going to know the job that you're
scheduling the interpreter for. They know if you need to ask for a
legal interpreter, they know for example if that deaf person who's
coming in has a language skills, if they need to request a CDI in that
situation or not. They know if you've actually requested an
interpreter from two different agencies, if one agency sends an
interpreter, they know to cancel the request from the second agency.
So I think it's really a good idea to schedule -- I am a he sorry, to
designate one person from your office to do all the requests for sign
language interpreters.
This is a list of the large interpreter agencies in the city.
If you decide not to use an agency, at the bottom is the list -- is
the website linked to the Illinois deaf and hard of hearing commission.
They have a list of all the licensed interpreters in the state.
If you want to call or email all the interpreters on your own in your
area, you can do that as well and avoid going through agencies. That's
up to you.
A deaf or hard of hearing person might come to you and not know sign
language or they might prefer to lip read you or speech read you which
basically is you sitting across from them with good lighting and
they're lip reading you. Remember they're not going to understand
every word. Some of it is going to be guessing.
So you might have to repeat yourself. Be patient.
Make sure that you're facing the person sitting right across from
them. Maintain eye contact, again, make sure there's good lighting.
Speak clearly. Don't overexaggerate your mouth, you'll look silly
anyway if you do that.
Give them as many visual cues as you can but don't try to flap your
arms around, that will also look silly. If you say something the first
time and they don't understand you, don't keep resaying the same thing
over and over again. If they didn't understand the first time, it's
probably hard to see on the lips, so change it and say it a different
I would suggest also after you get to three or four sentences in,
make sure they understand you. Say, do you understand?
Do you have any questions?
Does this make sense?
Say B and P everybody for a second. B, P, looks the same on the
mouth. Right?
So just know that some words, again, are going to be guessed by the
deaf person.
Don't cover your mouth, don't have food in your mouth, don't chew gum
at the same time as talking, it's hard to lip read someone with all
this stuff in your mouth. If you have a mustache, you might have to
comb it to the side, one time a man had a handlebar mustache. And we
showed up -- Rachel said I don't need an interpreter, I will go with
you if you have any questions. I signed something, and this man had a
huge mustache. And we went oh, gosh.
>> KAREN: Don't say never mind. Or it's not important. If you say
something to a deaf person they don't get it over and over again, say,
huh, never mind.
No, it was important. If you said it the first time, it was
important enough to say it. Worse come to worse, pull out a piece of
paper and write it down. And be patient.
Sometimes the deaf person is going to come to you wearing hearing
eights or cochlear implant that might increase sound enough they will
get some cues from that technology. Here are some websites that give
you information about some of these listening devices if you want to
read more about it or if your office wants to buy any type of listening
Court houses sometimes use these as well. Your client might show up
at a courthouse and request a listening device to be used. They might
clip a microphone on to your clothes. Don't refuse to do that. I have
seen people refuse to that that before. No big deal, clip it on your
clothes and wear it. You might want to help a client by asking a Judge
to put it on when he's speaking. Convince the judge to do it.
CART, here's some websites as well. Your client might request cart
when you go to Court. Help advocate for your client when you do that.
It's not easy for her, but she's trained. Pretty easy, you set it up,
look at a screen and it gives your client communication access.
Writing back and forth; this is for a deaf person who might prefer to
use this as a way to communicate with you.
I would not suggest using this for an hour long meeting. This is
just a short-term, quick conversation or at a help desk. Keep the
phrases short and simple. Again, let the person keep the piece of
paper. So many times the person comes to me and said they wouldn't let
me keep the piece of paper. If you need to make a copy for your
records, do that but let the person take the piece of paper with them.
Relay. Rachel mentioned this as well. Please train all of your
staff who answer the phones in the front what a relay call is. I think
we'll have a couple of minutes to do a practice relay call so you can
hear what it sounds like. It's not somebody trying to sell something,
a telemarketer. They say the person is calling through the relay
Hello, relay. Relay. Don't hang up on them. Okay?
You don't need a TTY in your office. That's a -- does everybody know
what a TTY is?
A little square keyboard with couplers on the top that you put your
phone on. They're pretty much outdated now and not a lot of people use
them. That's what's in the prisons now. There aren't video relay in
the prisons. They will probably call you with TTYs. You might have
one dusty in your office still. But you don't need a TTY in your
office or a video phone in your office to accept a relay call. Just a
regular standard phone.
When a deaf person calls you and said call me through this phone
number, you can call through that number and you will automatically be
connected through relay to that deaf person. Don't say relay, tell
them that I, blah-blah-blah. You are just talking right to that deaf
person through this relay service.
Relay is -- if I'm going to call Rachel, I pick up my phone and I'm
talking through an operator to Rachel. So this relay operator is
signing my words and they're looking at Rachel, signing to her through
a video screen. She's signing to this operator who knows sign language
and voicing her sign toss me. It's an in-between operator who knows
sign language.
For a TTY, it's the same thing. A deaf person is typing, the
operator is voicing the typed words to me and vice versa.
There have been -- there's just recent time I was on a conference
call with Rachel and the relay operator, the interpreter and the very
flat tone was making a lot of mistakes. I said can you please swap out
to a different interpreter. I knew they weren't understanding what was
going on. And it didn't sound like Rachel. If you're in the middle of
a car and it doesn't feel right to you, ask to swap out interpreters.
If you think that the relay operator is -- maybe they don't know
legal terms, and you know that this deaf client of yours needs to
understand what you're saying and it just doesn't feel right, ask to
swap out an interpreter to an interpreter who knows legal terms. Don't
take a chance if it doesn't feel right to you that the call isn't going
right. Swap out interpreters.
The bottom website is website if you're interested in learning more.
There are relay operators who are trilingual, Spanish, English, if you
have clients who are Spanish speaking, use this website as a resource.
General tips when working with deaf clients. When they ask for an
accommodation, for example, if they ask for an interpreter, believe
them. Don't say let's try writing back and forth the first time.
Don't say let's try lip reading the first time. If they ask for an
interpreter, believe them that they need it. Put some money aside in
your budget for accommodations. If you use it that year, great. If
you don't use it, you have the money there for the next year.
I would suggest scripting. Wright up a script for your front office
staff. When I train police officers and hospitals and everybody about
talking and working with deaf people, usually they're just nervous.
They don't know what to say when a call comes in and a deaf person
shows up. You might want to think writing some sentences down that the
staff can use when a deaf person shows up.
Don't talk to family members. They're not your client. So
frequently a deaf person will talk to me and say, you know, the
attorney wants to talk to my mother. And this is a 30 or 40-year-old.
I say why do they want to talk to your mother?
They're not the client. Make sure to talk only to your clients, not
the family members. Unless you have permission of course.
When you confirm an appointment with a client or when they ask for an
interpreter, I would take a second and make sure an interpreter is
actually coming. Worth the quick phone call to make sure you have an
interpreter coming for an appointment.
Many times when I refer deaf clients to your agencies, you refer them
back to me. Just because I'm a deaf agency.
But I've actually referred them to you. Tell your front office staff
not to refer everybody to me.
Because we're a referral agency. We don't actually represent
clients. So thank you for the referrals, but they're for you.
>> KAREN: If you're -- a deaf person shows up at your office -sometimes it's hard to take the time out of phone calls and what's
going on. But it would be great if you could find somebody who has a
minute to talk to them. I'm sure you don't have interpreters on staff.
So gab a piece of paper and figuring out their problems would be great.
If you don't have time, you know, sometimes relay calls take an extra
minute. I know it's hard. The front office staff putting someone on
hold. All -- you know, is hard. So if you can find somebody to take a
minute to take those calls would be great.
And maybe having somebody as an expert in your office in disabilities
would be great also.
Quick -- do I have a quick second?
This is quick. You can read through it later about what we do. We
have an attorney referral service, don't have attorneys on staff much
we do a lot of education in the deaf community about their rights.
Under state and federal laws. We do workshops. Our website has 60
legal terms in ASL. We do a lot of he had education of the deaf.
These are great articles.
This my goodness, the last thing I'll say. A deaf man went to his
regular doctor and -- who he's gone to for many years much on the side
said I was culled for jury duty. And his doctor pulled out his
prescription pad and wrote above mentioned person has jury duty, this
person is deaf and dumb, uses only sign language, has no communication
skills. Kindly excuse him from jury duty.
This was in July.
So please, just because a person uses American Sign Language does not
mean that they're dumb, does not mean that they have no communication
skills. So hopefully you will -- just because somebody is a little
different than you, please respect your client as people.
That's the end of my presentation.
If you have any questions, let me know yeah?
>> I was wondering is there a cost for that relay service?
And you also call your clients and they call you ->> KAREN: There's no cost for the relay service and -- what was the
second question?
>> You said that the client could give a phone number to call. But
what if you want to call your client and they aren't around. They call
the relay service?
>> KAREN: You call the phone number they give you and leave a
message. Yep.
This one right here. To the right. There you go. You just did it
too far.
You go to the left of it. There's the triangle.
>> KIM: On line?
>> RYANN: I can do it too. If you want to tell me when to change.
>> KAREN: Which is your first one?
>> KIM: A title slide. There it is.
I can do it from here.
>> RYANN: I can do it from here too.
>> KIM: I will be speaking about how to accommodate clients who
might be working with you, maybe vision impaired or have blindness.
My first slide talks about a lot of the different types of paperwork
we use as lawyers. I always joke that lawyers really like paper. And
we do. The written word is a really important part of our work. But
the written word can also pose incredibly huge accessibility issues for
folks who are low vision or who have blindness.
Think of paper as steps would be to someone who uses a wheelchair.
Paper is that way for folks who are low vision or blind. So kind of
take an inventory of all the different paper you use in your office,
and -- I've done a list here of different types of paper you might use.
And try to make sure that every piece of paper you have is available
in what's called a plain text format. Plain text is just a way of
saying a Microsoft Word document that just has the text in it. This is
important because Microsoft Word documents can easily be changed, you
can usually change the font size. The font color. The font style.
Also when you have a Microsoft plain text document, it can easily be
changed into braille. Can easily be printed on a braille printer.
There's certain things that depend on the person. So I don't think
that there's a rule on what is large print.
And this kind of goes with the reasonable accommodation framework.
So here when we're talking about providing paperwork and in an access
many format, we're talking about reasonable accommodations under the
ADA. Reasonable accommodations is an individualized inquiry.
So it's whatever the individual needs as an accommodation.
So I've heard all kinds of things about rules about large print.
This is a place where you should really ask the person who has low
vision what works best for them.
There are also different grades of braille which means different
levels of braille. So if someone's using braille you would also want
to ask that. Don't assume just because someone is blind that they
would need documents in braille.
I've made this mistake before. And you'll go through the trouble of
printing something in braille, and the person can't read braille. And
maybe it's because they've recently lost their vision. Or maybe it's
because they just never learned it. But don't go through the trouble
of providing an accommodation that maybe someone doesn't even really
Ask the person what they need.
Some people might want to document -- a document read to them. I see
this a lot with older adults who maybe lost their vision due to aging,
the aging process.
Younger folks like me, I have vision impairment, I do not want
someone to read something to me. Really makes me angry.
When I'm prepping with a of -- presenting with a document and I'm
told it's not available in another format, and the person offers to
read it to me, I'm able to read the document, as long as it's provided
to me in accessible format. Another thing I didn't put on here is way
So another big barrier for folks who are low vision or blind is
finding their way. Finding their way to your office, finding their way
around the courts.
So just really thinking about that. Like if you have a court hearing
with a client, you know, maybe offer to meet them at the nearest L
station. Maybe you're taking that same L too, helping them walk to
where you're going to court. It's very hard when you're vision
impaired or blind to read street signs and see a room number and all
those kinds of things.
So lending a hand in that way can also help. A little bit of
thinking ahead on those kinds of things.
Something that I do is sometimes you won't know if someone needs to
be guided. So I'll just ask someone, do you need an arm?
If I'm walking with someone who is low vision or blind, do you need
an arm?
And usually they'll just grab my elbow. And they'll walk along next
to me.
They can get a lot -- someone can get a lot of information just from
your elbow as you're walking along.
This has already been said. I want to designate someone in your
office to provide accommodations. This could be the same person in
your office who is designated to provide accommodations to employees.
So can possibly even be someone in the human resources department.
And I want to reiterate that don't send clients with disabilities to
Access Living just because they have a disability. I see this a lot.
Where someone has already called other legal aid places and for
whatever reason they are referred to Access Living because other main
focus is disability rights. Really work at your different legal aid
organizations to provide accommodations to folks who have disabilities.
I have a couple slides about fillable forms.
This is a form that's on the video Chicago website to look up a ward.
An online fillable form or you can type into the form. These types of
forms are very accessible for people with vision impairments. Another
form I really like comes from Illinois legal aid on line and it's a
fillable online form to help someone do a Power of Attorney.
There's certain types of adaptive software. Do we have time to show?
>> RYANNE: Yeah.
>> KIM: We have different types of adaptive software that folks who
are low vision can use on their computers.
Go ahead. Yeah.
>> Sorry, guys.
>> KIM: That's okay. There's always tech issues.
There -- neither are captioned. No.
>> This is the home page of the handbook for educators and museums on
the art beyond site website. Listen to how a blind person with a jaws
screen reader will experience some of this page.
>> Graphic program in -- graphic photo of a teacher and student.
Graphics attached step by step through the entire process. This page
with graphic accessibility rules written. This page with graphic photo
of hands exploring the tactile drawing of Pablo Picasso's -- facilities
accessibility. Graphic for educators and museums. This page with
graphic disability awareness. This page with graphic photo of signing
AVS. Disability and inclusion. This page with graphic human
resources, this page with graphic photo of hands on the computer.
Graphic employed with a museums and the arts. Handbook takings you
through the process of creating accessible programs for people with
visual impairments. Graphic photo of a man reading grail descriptions
of a display of a printing company by a young woman at the museum of
modern art, New York.
>> KIM: That's an example of a piece of software called jaws, it's
an acronym, JAWS. Job access work software, I think is what it stands
But as you saw and heard, it can read through a website. So it's a
good point to note that a website has to be made accessible for this
type of screen reader software to work. And I provided other slides,
some resources where you can check your legal aid organizations'
website to make sure it would work with that type of software.
This next video will show another piece of software.
>> Were you ready?
>> KIM: Oh, yeah. Sorry.
>> INTERPRETER: Can you click on the closed captioning and maybe it
will pop up?
There is a button for closed captioning. On the right.
(Video )
>> Screen application for the visually impaired. It allows you to
see and hear everything on the computer screen, providing access for
different applications, for processing email and Internet. Some of the
enhancement fee furs are the power, the power can magnify the screen up
36 X.
There's different types of screen that can be utilized as well.
Right now we're looking at the full -- you can see the entire screen.
Is at full magnification. We can do a lens view, it's like a hand-held
magnifier, where you can pass it over. Where you need that enhanced
You can look at the live view if you're doing any detail reading and
hit just that particular area. The line view.
And we're going to go back to the full. And we're going to look at
some of the other enhancement features. The next will be the color.
Where you can change the colors. You can invert the brightness.
We can also create a yellow and black scheme.
We can all -- also do black and white invert. That's the yell low is
harsh on your eyes or maybe you do need that particular contrast.
We can also enhance the pointer or you can find the mouse pointer on
the screen with a full cross hairs.
We can also enlarge it and change to different colors as well if you
need that particular enhancement.
>> KIM: If your client has access to this type of software, a lot of
times if you have documents to send in, you send in plain text,
Microsoft Word documents. They're able to manipulate those documents
in ways using their software to enlarge them. I have a vision
impairment and I have that second piece of software on my computer. So
as long as people are just emailing me documents, I'm able to enlarge
them without the person -- the person e-mailed back to me, doesn't
necessarily have to change the font size or anything.
Okay. I just -- I wanted to make a point about contrast on websites.
These are three examples of bad contrast. The first comes from an
email chain. The email had a background color. And as you start to
reply to the emails, the coloration, it becomes really hard to read.
Of course the best contrast is always black and white. But of course
like websites, you might want them to be a little bit more colorful
than that.
The middle -- the middle example is actually a website about making
websites have better contrast. And actual website isn't in very good
The bottom is from the national federation of the blind. And I feel
like the right hand part of that bottom website is not -- does not
provide very good contrast.
Contrast of the words, the text on the background can really make a
difference in the accessibility for folks.
Also you saw with the screen reader software that putting these tags
on graphics can really help folks who are blind know what a graphic is.
Know what the picture is of.
I provided a lot of resources because screen reader accessibility can
get super technical. If you're not computer savvy, as I am not, these
are some really good resources.
I've also provided a resource on making adobe acrobat PDFs
accessible. If your PDF is just an image, you're not able to scroll
over the text with your cursor and make the text highlight, like you
wouldn't be able to copy and paste into a Word document, then the
screen reader is not going to be able to read it. That's a general
simplified rule. There's a website I provided to provide more
I provided a list of organizations in Chicago that work with folks
who are low vision or blind.
And I know this presentation was quick, so I'm always happy to help
with any type of kind of input on disability accommodations.
I know that my presentation focused on vision impairment, and that is
my own disability, so it's kind of the one that I'm most familiar with.
But in my job I am constantly working to accommodate clients with
And I know that some of this might not resonate until you have a
client who comes to your door who has a disability.
So if that moment arises, always feel free to contact me.
>> TOM WENDT: First, before we get into question, I would like
everyone to give Rachel and Karen and Kim a round of applause. Because
that was terrific.
>> TOM WENDT: I do want to open it up to questions. If anybody has
>> Do we have time for them to do the relay? Demonstration?
>> TOM WENDT: Depending on how many questions. Yeah. Why don't we
do that first and take questions after that.
>> RACHEL: I have on my phone the captions relay service. So I can
call -- someone wants to call --
>> Want to call me?
>> DINA: At a break?
>> What's your number? (Number provided)
>> RACHEL: I'm calling now.
And now in sign language interpreter ->> KAREN: If anybody wants to come up and see.
The interpreter just appeared.
Her screen is split, so on the bottom Rachel can see herself. On the
top the interpreter is signing one minute.
>> DINA: Hello?
>> Hello. Hi there. Someone who is speaking in sign language is
calls through the relay service.
Hi there. I'm Rachel and I'm calling to speak with Diana.
>> DINA: Hi, Rachel. This is Dina.
>> Hi there. Thank you for coming to the event today. To the
presentation today. I appreciate it.
>> DINA: Sure. Is there anything I can help you with today?
>> RACHEL: I think everything is good. Thank you.
>> DINA: Okay. Bye-bye.
>> KAREN: Go longer.
>> DINA: Go longer. Sorry.
>> DINA: We're not signing off yet. So Rachel, tell me -- tell me
what you're seeing on your phone.
>> RACHEL: Right now I am seeing a split screen. So I'm going to
show you what -- I'm signing myself. And so I have a sign language
interpreter and she's interpreting everything that I say. And so...
the picture.
>> DINA: So Rachel, if you don't have a cell phone and you're making
a relay call from your home, do you have to have a computer set up near
your phone so you can see the interpreter?
>> RACHEL: Yes. I can do two different things. I can use my iPad
with my Web cam. And then also I can use my laptop. When my computer
is working. And with that I have a Web cam. So that will help me
to -- so it's all through the Web cam. I can use the Web cam. Also I
can use -- I can talk to another deaf person. So it's about -- me
speaking to another deaf person.
>> DINA: Do most deaf people, like low income deaf people who might
not have computers or other equipment, how would they access the relay?
>> RACHEL: Well, first if -- sign language would be through the
relay. They would probably use the TTY. For low income, maybe they -they have a computer. But if there's no Internet, you can't use it.
You need to have Internet service in order to use the video phone. Or
video relay service. So one of those people would actually use the TTY
and use the other relay where they would type back and forth.
>> DINA: Okay.
>> RACHEL: And know in rural areas they don't have strong Internet
connections or strong Internet service, so it will be hard to use. In
a video phone too.
>> KAREN: Can I also add something to that?
Access Living has a video phone in our lobby that's available to
clients as well.
>> DINA: Hold on. Just one moment, please. Kim is actually
speaking. The other presenter. She's not on the phone with me.
>> KIM: I'm sorry.
>> DINA: So should we end the call now and then Tim can ask for
questions? So we free up the operator?
>> RACHEL: Okay. Thank you.
>> DINA: Thank you. Bye Rachel.
>> RACHEL: Bye-bye.
>> I have a question.
I do have a question.
My understanding about video relay is that it's possible to be in the
same room. Do you have to be in the same room or different rooms in
order to make the video relay work?
>> RACHEL: Yes.
The video service, you should not be -- they're usually pretty -it's not a tool that you would use with a meeting with somebody. So
you would want to use a sign language interpreter.
I wasn't understanding, sorry.
>> RACHEL: The MCC has rules about people not being in the same room
to use the video service. The type of case that you're referring to.
And so in that -- so this is not something you would use to meet with
a client in person. You would either use a video remote interpreter
where you can call an interpreter to come in -- that's something else
we can show you, or you want to hire a sign language interpreter for
your meeting. But this is a way to demonstrate how you can make a
phone call so that people understand how the video relay service works.
>> KAREN: This is not a substitution for meeting with clients. And
not hiring a sign language interpreter.
>> KIM: I have a case like that right now where the defendant keeps
calling the person, like through the relay. And I made a reasonable
accommodation request, the client would like you to provide him with a
sign language interpreter. And the defendant responded I have been
providing them sign language interpreter. I've been talking with them
through relay. So I'm trying to make this point with this defendant
that the interpreting through the relay is not a substitute for face to
face meetings with sign language interpreters.
In meeting with you. Especially when you're talking about legal
concepts, especially when you're having really important meetings with
your clients.
The phone really is not a substitute for a face-to-face sign language
>> RACHEL: I also have a screen shot of the phone call that -- in
case you missed it. If you wanted to see what it looked like. I'm
happy to show you.
>> Ryanne: Kim, what were you saying about Access Living?
>> KIM: I interrupted the call. If I think of something, if I don't
say it right then, I'll forget. Access Living has a video phone -- I
think one or two available in our lobby for folks. They can can use it
for 30 minutes at a time.
So I have actually had some clients where they come back to Access
Living to use the video phone and I get a call from Access Living.
Like on my caller I.D., Access Living is calling you. It's actually
one of my clients who's down stairs in the lobby and wanted to just
quickly maybe set up a meeting with me.
>> TOM WENDT: Are there any other questions?
>> Services -- 24 hours?
>> KIM: Yeah.
>> Okay.
>> TOM WENDT: I actually had one question too.
We were talking at the beginning of the presentation a little bit
about some of the rules of ethics, particularly rule 1.6 regarding
Our interpreters govern under confidentiality the same as any other
nonattorney in the office would be?
>> KAREN: Is I would say yes and no. That's my easy answer. The
licensure -- the confidentiality extends with -- but unfortunately our
licensure law does not include confidentiality. So there's under the
code of ethics for interpreters, it says yes they're supposed to keep
everything confidential. But if they're called to testify, the
difference tore story. So that's my yes and no for you. But
interpreters quickly forget everything they do once they leave the
>> TOM WENDT: Any other final questions?
Okay. Well, I would again like to thank our presenters today.
And are there any announcements or any other business?
Last time we ran short so we didn't do announcements and now we don't
have any announcements at all?
>> Ryanne: I think Alel.
>> A quick announcement for everyone. If you have not talked to the
CBF yet, about your opportunities that you have on the ALAO, we did
launch the volunteer search, the new search, the new system. So please
get in contact with her because we're going to start promoting it
during pro bono week come Monday. Make sure you you get in contact
with them or us if you are outside of Cook County. So we also have
flyers over here if you want to check them out. Thank you.
>> TOM WENDT: Great. Yeah?
>> The law project is having our fund raiser tonight. It's called
link by link. We're going to be honoring the pro bono coordinators as
well as several clients and volunteer attorneys that we work would.
>> TOM WENDT: Where's that at?
>> Skadden, 155 north Wacker. 5:30 to 7:30.
>> TOM WENDT: Perfect. Any ->> KAREN: Midwest Center on Law and the Deaf has a new young
professionals board. If you're interested in joining, everything's on
our website. And our Facebook page. Midwest Center on Law & the Deaf.
>> TOM WENDT: Any other announcements?
We don't have a legislative update today but I am assure we will next
time. Our next meeting is on November 14th at 12:15.
And if there's any other comments or -- I'd like to get -- again,
thank for the third time now our presenters. If you would give them a
hand again.
>> TOM WENDT: And I will -- we will see everybody and talk to
everybody on the 14th. Thank you.
-END* * *
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