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Government Services

This section is about federal and provincial services such as taxes; ODSP; driver’s license; social insurance, RDSP etc.

The following information is intended to provide a starting point to improve access to services for people with Speech and Language Disabilities (SLDs), not caused by hearing loss. It is by no means a full comprehensive list of barriers or accommodations. It presents some of the unique challenges that people with SLDs may experience within this situation.

Contact us for more information on making your services accessible.

Sample Communication Access Barriers to Government Services

Many of us who have Speech and Language Disabilities (SLDs), experience the same barriers as people who have mobility, sensory and other disabilities. In addition, we may experience unique communication barriers due to our speech and language disability. These barriers may include:

  • Not having our speech and / or communication device understood in person or over the phone
  • Having someone hang-up because they think our unclear speech is due to being drunk or that our device is an automated sales call
  • Not accepting assistance from our communication assistant / interpreter
  • Confusing a communication assistant that assists people understanding our messages with a power of attorney or someone who is authorized to make decisions for us
  • Not being able to use automated prompts such as numbers to navigate the phone system

Suggestions for Government Services

In addition to generic communication access accommodations, people who work in government services should:

  • Develop clear accessibility policies that are consistent and enforced at every level of government
  • Provide an accessibility stream (in person, over the telephone or via email) where service providers have extra training in assisting and communicating with people who have SLDs
  • Provide multiple ways for communication to happen such as email, text and telephone
  • Provide the option to speak with a person on the phone rather than automated phone messages and prompts
  • Implement a secure procedure with security passwords for our approved communication assistants to assist us communicating over the phone
  • Provide the option to use secure, encrypted email communication
  • Include a section on driver’s license that can be used to indicate if we have a SLD

Resources for Government Services

Suggestions for People with SLDs

  • Be prepared to tell government workers how we communicate and what they can do to make communication go smoothly (See Communication Access Card in resources)
  • If we choose to use a speech-generating device, we should be prepared to state up front that we are using a device to communicate and ask the person to be patient and to stay on the line as it may take some time for us to type and speak out our messages
  • If we choose to use our own speech, we should be prepared to tell the person that we have a disability that makes our speech unclear, to tell us if they don’t understand what we are saying and that we will repeat our message
  • If we prefer to use ways other than the telephone, we can tell the organization what works best for us. For example, text, email, message relay service or a communication assistant
  • If we choose to use an assistant when communicating over the phone about sensitive or confidential matters (e.g. financial, taxes, applying for health card etc.), we should negotiate a process telling them that we authorize the person to assist us. That may involve signing a document with the name(s) of our assistants, negotiating a personal identification code or password they can use to identify themselves and a process which can be used to ensure that we are present and directing our communication assistant over the phone (e.g. video / audio / messaging).