The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced December 11 that people who are deaf or hard of hearing seeking to file discrimination complaints will now be able to communicate, via videophone, directly to intake representatives fluent in American Sign Language.
Previously, individuals only had the option to relay their communications through translation services.
“About 98 percent of people who are deaf and hard of hearing use videophones,” Carrie St. Cyr, an ASL information intake representative, said in an EEOC news release. “Now, when those individuals call EEOC, they will now be able to communicate face to face with a staff member who speaks their native language and whose gestures, body language, and expressions they can read easily.”
At present, the Federal Communications Commission and the Small Business Administration are the only other federal agencies providing a similar program.
“EEOC is proud to strengthen our service to the deaf and hard of hearing community and provide a more effective way for individuals to connect with our agency,” EEOC Chair Jenny R. Yang said in the news release. “This enhanced means of communication helps to ensure that all individuals have access to EEOC resources on employment rights and responsibilities.”