Couple weeks ago I went to a Rick Hansen Foundation (RHF), Accessibility Professional Network (APN)- Building Together conference in Richmond, British Columbia out of curiosity. My husband is an architect and went for his business learning. APN had teams of interpreters present and provided closed captions on the screen for in-person and online viewers that made the event enjoyable as well as educational. Great speakers sharing their wisdom and progress. Met other Deaf professionals who are architects and a Vancouver airline consultant there as well as people motivated to provide access to buildings. RHF is all about physical access, do check them out.
I want to talk about after the conference when my husband and I explored Vancouver downtown. We decided to have lunch, discovered a unique simple business name display and was intrigued by their menu. Meat & Bread on Robson street. We were looking forward to a sandwich which sold out with the people before us. A nice man named Colin appeared and started signing to the best of his ability. Explaining what was available. I chose a sandwich and asked if it was spicy. He relayed this to the woman (forgot her name opps) working there and she said it isn\’t.
But it was. I am super sensitive to even a little spice. Colin saw my signing spicy to my husband and came to offer water. The sandwich was GOOD but oh my, very spicy for me. He signed I\’m Sorry, and I laughed, and signed that it was ok. He gave me a ranch dressing to cool down for me to continue to enjoy my sandwich which it helped. My husband and I enjoyed our meal and ended up having a conversation with Colin. I asked him about his learning sign language and he shared that his Deaf friends motivated him to learn. I always ask out of curiosity when I see people signing, he did well while he\’s still learning.
Colin then explained about the business after my husband was impressed with the simplicity of the sandwiches. It was nice to be able to learn more about the restaurant through signs. We learned everything was compostable; the box sandwich came in, wooden fork, container that held ranch dressing. They offer glasses for people to refill their own water. Their menu is simple yet delicious.
Colin was attentive to make sure I understood and was included in the conversation. We talked about what I do and so on.
Why did I bring up this business? Because people like Colin made me feel welcome. Not just because I\’m Deaf but because he was attentive to my needs as well as others. I watched him serve a woman who is not Deaf but I can see that English was not her first language, he managed to clarify her needs and provided what she wanted. It was all in body language which you would learn overtime when learning sign language. Facial expression and body language is 70% of Sign Language.
Be like Colin. When I train businesses, it\’s not about sign language altho part of it is, because you already know some and don\’t realize it. It\’s mainly about creating a truly accessible environment through inclusive communication training serving people coming to your business. You would exceed current standards to meet the needs of those who struggle with listening and speaking environments. Reach out to learn more.