Businesses that display merchandise, labels, or signs (but do not hand out printed materials) can usually conduct business successfully by speaking or reading information to a customer who is blind or has low vision. They can also assist a customer who is blind by locating and retrieving a product from a display shelf, describing the visual features of a product or the layout of an area, or helping the customer locate where to sign the credit card slip. Most businesses fall in this category.
Businesses that hand out simple printed materials have several options. A restaurant, for example, can have its waiters read the menu to a diner who is blind or can provide an audio recording of the menu. For customers who have low vision, the restaurant can have some menus printed in larger print or can keep a magnifying glass available for customer use (and a flashlight in low light situations). These techniques also work for small brochures, flyers, and other simple printed materials that are provided to customers. When these techniques are offered, it is not necessary to provide the materials in Braille.
In a restaurant, a waiter is reading the menu to a woman who is blind.
Businesses that rely on printed materials to communicate extensive or specialized information must be prepared to deal with customers who use different techniques for absorbing printed information. Materials such as sales contracts or insurance policies should be made available in alternative ways, such as on a computer disk, in an audio format, in Braille, or in large print, so the customer can adequately study the information.
The important thing is to find out what technique(s) a particular customer can use. Some people who are blind have computer programs that convert written words into spoken words. Others use audio recordings in various formats. Some, but not all, people who are blind read Braille. Large print is useful for people who have some vision.
At a real estate office, a wife is reading a large print version of a sales contract
What oral information does your business provide?
For short, simple conversations, most businesses can successfully communicate with a customer who is deaf or hard of hearing by using gestures and notes.
A car salesman is negotiating a sale with a couple. The husband listens while his wife uses a sign language interpreter to understand what the salesman is saying.
Generally, a sign language interpreter is required for complex communications when the customer’s primary method of communication is sign language. There are several sign languages used in the United States. American Sign Language (ASL, or Ameslan), Signed English, and Pidgin Signed English are the three most prevalent ones.