Deaf Services

Deaf Services

The River City Group is proud to serve our South Texas Deaf and Hard of Hearing communities. Our program is managed by Liana Davis, a BEI certified interpreter with over 5 years of experience assisting members of the deaf community with their work-related needs.  Our Deaf Services division is driven by the intrinsic desire to assist individuals in achieving their employment goals. Our entire service array, including VAT, job placement, RiverWorks, job coaching, ASD supports, work experience training, and supported employment services are customized for the deaf community as well.

Deaf Advocacy

Article 30, paragraph 4 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities states the following: “Persons with disabilities shall be entitled, on an equal basis with others, to recognition and support of their specific cultural and linguistic identity, including sign languages and Deaf culture”.  The River City Group endorses this mandate, and we view it as our responsibility to not only facilitate employment outcomes for this community, but to assist in dispelling the myths that surround deafness and employment.  Making San Antonio a deaf friendly city by bringing our deaf community and employer partners together to create strong, diverse workplaces is our ultimate goal.

Employment

Individuals with disabilities face a number of barriers to employment, and deaf workers are no exception.  Some of the more consequential employer concerns we encounter include:

  • How will we communicate with a deaf worker?
  • Can deaf people work safely in our environment?
  • How will a deaf worker affect our workplace culture?
  • How do we make a deaf worker feel welcomed?

Ultimately, we knock down these barriers one company, one person at a time.  With each success story we facilitate, another opportunity arises in its wake and another deaf worker serves as ambassador for those who will follow.

DEAF Interpreter Services (DIS)

The River City Group provides certified interpreter services for an array of events and proceedings throughout the community.  Our interpreters are professional and attuned to the needs and expectations of our clientele. DIS affords additional value to organizations by conducting Americans with Disabilities (A.D.A.) Compliance Consulting, and offering Job Coaching and Deaf Support Specialists to organizations needing to integrate their deaf employees into their work environment, establish reasonable accommodations, and improve communication amongst staff.  A sampling of our employment related work includes:

  • New-hire orientations
  • Safety meetings
  • Human Resources meetings
  • Conferences, seminars, and mandatory training sessions

FAQs

Is it acceptable to just write notes back and forth to our deaf client/coworker?

American Sign Language (ASL) is a distinct and unique language with its own grammar and syntax. Unless the deaf person has an extremely good command of the English language, writing notes in English would have little benefit. It could be compared to writing notes in English to a Spanish-speaking person.  The deaf individual may understand a few English words, but may miss the full meaning or content of the conversation. Structurally and conceptually, ASL is very different from English and is not based upon English. Because of the linguistics differences, many English words and ideas do not transfer well to paper.  Depending on the situation, this could be detrimental and liability issues should be considered. Utilizing the skills of a professional interpreter is the best choice for accurate and effective communication with a deaf individual.

Do all individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing use the same kind of interpreter?

No.  There are various kinds of interpreters.  The health care provider should ascertain the particular language needs of the person who is deaf or hard of hearing prior to hiring an interpreter.  Some individuals may require interpreters who are fluent in American Sign Language, a language with grammar and syntax that is different from the English language.  Others may require interpreters who use Signed English, a form of signing which uses the same word order as does English.  Still others who do not know any sign language may require oral interpreters, who take special care to articulate words for deaf or hard of hearing individual, or cued speech interpreters, who give visual cues to assist in lip reading (also called speech reading).

Is lipreading an effective form of communicating with individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing?

Not often.  The ability of a deaf or hard of hearing individual to speak clearly does not mean that he or she can hear well enough to understand spoken communication or to lipread effectively.  Forty to 60 percent of English sounds look alike when spoken.  On average, even the most skilled lipreaders understand only 25 percent of what is said to them, and many individuals understand far less.  Lipreading is most often used as a supplement to the use of residual hearing, amplification, or other assistive listening technology.  Because lipreading requires some guesswork, very few deaf or hard of hearing people rely on lipreading alone for exchanges of important information.  Lipreading may be particularly difficult in the medical setting where complex medical terminology is often used.  Individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing who rely on lipreading for communication may need an oral interpreter to ensure effective communication.

Do written notes offer an effective means of communicating with deaf and hard of hearing individuals?

Exchanging written notes may be effective for brief and simple communication.  Communication through the exchange of written notes is inherently truncated; information that would otherwise be spoken may not be written.  Moreover, written communication can be slow and cumbersome.  If a healthcare provider is communicating less or providing less information in writing than he or she would provide when speaking to a patient, this is an indication that writing to communicate is not effective in that context.

Understanding written material may also depend on the reading level or literacy skills of the individual.  The reading level of deaf and hard of hearing individuals is as variable as the reading levels found in the general population.  Additionally, for some deaf and hard of hearing people, American Sign Language (ASL) is their first language.  Because the grammar and syntax of ASL differs considerably from English, exchanging written notes may not provide effective communication between a deaf or hard of hearing patient and a health care provider.  For some deaf or hard of hearing individuals, the services of a qualified sign language interpreter offer the only effective method of communication.

What is the difference between a person who is “deaf,” “Deaf,” or “hard of hearing”?

The deaf and hard of hearing community is diverse.  There are variations in how a person becomes deaf or hard of hearing, level of hearing, age of onset, educational background, communication methods, and cultural identity.  How people “label” or identify themselves is personal and may reflect identification with the deaf and hard of hearing community, the degree to which they can hear, or the relative age of onset.  For example, some people identify themselves as “late-deafened,” indicating that they became deaf later in life.  Other people identify themselves as “deaf-blind,” which usually indicates that they are deaf or hard of hearing and also have some degree of vision loss.  Some people believe that the term “people with hearing loss” is inclusive and efficient.  However, some people who were born deaf or hard of hearing do not think of themselves as having lost their hearing.  Over the years, the most commonly accepted terms have come to be “deaf,” “Deaf,” and “hard of hearing.”

Is sign language universal?

There are about 70 million deaf people who use sign language as their first language or mother tongue. It is also the first language and mother tongue to many hearing people and some deafblind people (tactile sign languages). Each country has one or sometimes two or more sign languages, although different sign languages can share the same linguistic roots in the same way as spoken languages do.  Sign language is not pantomime or a simple gestural code representing the surrounding spoken language. It is not an international language, but there are universal features in sign languages. This helps to make it possible for users of different sign languages to understand one another far more quickly than users of unrelated spoken languages can. This has been called International Sign.

Deaf Services

The River City Group is proud to serve our South Texas Deaf and Hard of Hearing communities. Our program is managed by Liana Davis, a BEI certified interpreter with over 5 years of experience assisting members of the deaf community with their work-related needs.  Our Deaf Services division is driven by the intrinsic desire to assist individuals in achieving their employment goals. Our entire service array, including VAT, job placement, RiverWorks, job coaching, ASD supports, work experience training, and supported employment services are customized for the deaf community as well.

Deaf Advocacy

Article 30, paragraph 4 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities states the following: “Persons with disabilities shall be entitled, on an equal basis with others, to recognition and support of their specific cultural and linguistic identity, including sign languages and Deaf culture”.  The River City Group endorses this mandate, and we view it as our responsibility to not only facilitate employment outcomes for this community, but to assist in dispelling the myths that surround deafness and employment.  Making San Antonio a deaf friendly city by bringing our deaf community and employer partners together to create strong, diverse workplaces is our ultimate goal.

Employment

Individuals with disabilities face a number of barriers to employment, and deaf workers are no exception.  Some of the more consequential employer concerns we encounter include:

  • How will we communicate with a deaf worker?
  • Can deaf people work safely in our environment?
  • How will a deaf worker affect our workplace culture?
  • How do we make a deaf worker feel welcomed?

Ultimately, we knock down these barriers one company, one person at a time.  With each success story we facilitate, another opportunity arises in its wake and another deaf worker serves as ambassador for those who will follow.

DEAF Interpreter Services (DIS)

The River City Group provides certified interpreter services for an array of events and proceedings throughout the community.  Our interpreters are professional and attuned to the needs and expectations of our clientele. DIS affords additional value to organizations by conducting Americans with Disabilities (A.D.A.) Compliance Consulting, and offering Job Coaching and Deaf Support Specialists to organizations needing to integrate their deaf employees into their work environment, establish reasonable accommodations, and improve communication amongst staff.  A sampling of our employment related work includes:

  • New-hire orientations
  • Safety meetings
  • Human Resources meetings
  • Conferences, seminars, and mandatory training sessions

FAQs

Is it acceptable to just write notes back and forth to our deaf client/coworker?

American Sign Language (ASL) is a distinct and unique language with its own grammar and syntax. Unless the deaf person has an extremely good command of the English language, writing notes in English would have little benefit. It could be compared to writing notes in English to a Spanish-speaking person.  The deaf individual may understand a few English words, but may miss the full meaning or content of the conversation. Structurally and conceptually, ASL is very different from English and is not based upon English. Because of the linguistics differences, many English words and ideas do not transfer well to paper.  Depending on the situation, this could be detrimental and liability issues should be considered. Utilizing the skills of a professional interpreter is the best choice for accurate and effective communication with a deaf individual.

Do all individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing use the same kind of interpreter?

No.  There are various kinds of interpreters.  The health care provider should ascertain the particular language needs of the person who is deaf or hard of hearing prior to hiring an interpreter.  Some individuals may require interpreters who are fluent in American Sign Language, a language with grammar and syntax that is different from the English language.  Others may require interpreters who use Signed English, a form of signing which uses the same word order as does English.  Still others who do not know any sign language may require oral interpreters, who take special care to articulate words for deaf or hard of hearing individual, or cued speech interpreters, who give visual cues to assist in lip reading (also called speech reading).

Is lipreading an effective form of communicating with individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing?

Not often.  The ability of a deaf or hard of hearing individual to speak clearly does not mean that he or she can hear well enough to understand spoken communication or to lipread effectively.  Forty to 60 percent of English sounds look alike when spoken.  On average, even the most skilled lipreaders understand only 25 percent of what is said to them, and many individuals understand far less.  Lipreading is most often used as a supplement to the use of residual hearing, amplification, or other assistive listening technology.  Because lipreading requires some guesswork, very few deaf or hard of hearing people rely on lipreading alone for exchanges of important information.  Lipreading may be particularly difficult in the medical setting where complex medical terminology is often used.  Individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing who rely on lipreading for communication may need an oral interpreter to ensure effective communication.

Do written notes offer an effective means of communicating with deaf and hard of hearing individuals?

Exchanging written notes may be effective for brief and simple communication.  Communication through the exchange of written notes is inherently truncated; information that would otherwise be spoken may not be written.  Moreover, written communication can be slow and cumbersome.  If a healthcare provider is communicating less or providing less information in writing than he or she would provide when speaking to a patient, this is an indication that writing to communicate is not effective in that context.

Understanding written material may also depend on the reading level or literacy skills of the individual.  The reading level of deaf and hard of hearing individuals is as variable as the reading levels found in the general population.  Additionally, for some deaf and hard of hearing people, American Sign Language (ASL) is their first language.  Because the grammar and syntax of ASL differs considerably from English, exchanging written notes may not provide effective communication between a deaf or hard of hearing patient and a health care provider.  For some deaf or hard of hearing individuals, the services of a qualified sign language interpreter offer the only effective method of communication.

What is the difference between a person who is “deaf,” “Deaf,” or “hard of hearing”?

The deaf and hard of hearing community is diverse.  There are variations in how a person becomes deaf or hard of hearing, level of hearing, age of onset, educational background, communication methods, and cultural identity.  How people “label” or identify themselves is personal and may reflect identification with the deaf and hard of hearing community, the degree to which they can hear, or the relative age of onset.  For example, some people identify themselves as “late-deafened,” indicating that they became deaf later in life.  Other people identify themselves as “deaf-blind,” which usually indicates that they are deaf or hard of hearing and also have some degree of vision loss.  Some people believe that the term “people with hearing loss” is inclusive and efficient.  However, some people who were born deaf or hard of hearing do not think of themselves as having lost their hearing.  Over the years, the most commonly accepted terms have come to be “deaf,” “Deaf,” and “hard of hearing.”

Is sign language universal?

There are about 70 million deaf people who use sign language as their first language or mother tongue. It is also the first language and mother tongue to many hearing people and some deafblind people (tactile sign languages). Each country has one or sometimes two or more sign languages, although different sign languages can share the same linguistic roots in the same way as spoken languages do.  Sign language is not pantomime or a simple gestural code representing the surrounding spoken language. It is not an international language, but there are universal features in sign languages. This helps to make it possible for users of different sign languages to understand one another far more quickly than users of unrelated spoken languages can. This has been called International Sign.