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Deaf and Hard of Hearing

Acronyms   Policy   Interpreting Services for Deaf and Hard of Hearing

At some time in your career at DCF, you may have the opportunity to work with a Deaf or Hard of Hearing parent or child. There are specific laws and general guidelines that should be adhered to when working with this population. 



In partnering with communities and empowering children and families, CT Department of Children and Families (CTDCF) ensures that people with disabilities, including Deaf and Hard of Hearing, are treated fairly and equitably within the child protection system. Committed to its Safe-and-Sound Culture, the Department believes in the values of inclusion, sensitivity, and respect for the children and families we serve. Specifically, we believe in the inclusion and perspectives of all persons with physical and/or intellectual disabilities. This will be apparent in the Department's structures, policies, practices, and committed efforts for effective service provisions by qualified community providers. As an organization committed to equity and anti-racism, we will decisively identify behaviors, inequities, and challenges, on the basis of disability, which impact the psychological and physical safety of our children and families.

Purpose Statement

The Statewide Deaf and Hard of Hearing Advisory Team (DHHAT) is comprised of collective minds from within the agency and the community. Internal staff from across all area offices, central office and facilities serve as liaisons to their respective areas and actively collaborate with our community partners, who have a wealth of knowledge and navigation of effective resources. This collaborative team approach is intended to support the needs of family members who are Deaf, Hard of Hearing, or Children of Deaf or Hard of Hearing adults while addressing child safety and well-being. Therefore, in partnership with representatives from all divisions of DCF and members of the professional community, the DHHAT aims to identify, assess, and explore ways of improving the implementation of best-case practice for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing population.

The Statewide Deaf and Hard of Hearing Advisory Team (re-established in 2020) meets monthly and consists of meaningful discussion, review of recent research aligned with national guidelines, sharing of resources for staff working with the DHH population, guest speakers, and the development of trainings in collaboration with The Academy of Workforce Development. The DHHAT has shown to serve as a beneficial opportunity to enhance knowledge, discuss best practices that are culturally and linguistically appropriate, enhance partnerships with providers, and determine what is working well, as well as barriers, when assisting children and families we serve with DHH needs. The DHHAT offers staff the opportunity to request consults from the team that are purposeful and valuable on how (strategies) to move forward, allow for better understanding on how to work with the family, receive feedback, guidance, recommendations, and other opportunities to resolve challenges in working the Deaf and Hard of Hearing population.

Legal Requirements


“Deaf and hard of hearing people are entitled to effective communication with state and local government agencies. Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. ŠŠ12131-12134, forbids discrimination by any public entity.”

“Under the ADA, local and state agencies are required to give equal access and equally effective services to people with disabilities. 28 C.F.R. 35.130. They may not deny people an opportunity to participate in their programs, or give them an opportunity that is less effective than the opportunity given to others. Often, the public entity must provide qualified interpreters, TTYs, visible warning devices, or captioned materials and other auxiliary aids to ensure effective communication with deaf and hard of hearing people.”

ASL: American Sign Language (ASL FACT Sheet)
CART: Communication Access Real Time Translation
NAD: National Association of the Deaf
RID: Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf
NTECU: National Training, Evaluation & Certification Unit
VRI: Video Remote Interpreting
CDI: Certified Deaf Interpreter


(1) "Deaf person" means a person who has a hearing loss which is so

severe that the person has difficulty in processing linguistic information

through hearing, with or without amplification or other assistive


(2) "Deafblind person" means a person who has both a hearing loss

and a visual loss that present challenges in (A) processing linguistic

information through hearing and sight, and (B) functioning

independently as a sighted person without training;

(3) "Hard of hearing person" means a person who has a hearing loss,

whether permanent or fluctuating, which may be corrected by

amplification or other assistive technology or means but presents

challenges in processing linguistic information through hearing;

(4) "American Sign Language" or "ASL" means the visual language

used by deaf and hard of hearing persons in the United States and

Canada, with semantic, syntactic, morphological and phonological rules

distinct from the English language;

(5) "English-based manual or sign system" means a sign system that

uses manual signs in English language word order, sometimes with

added affixes that are not present in ASL;

(6) "Oral, aural or speech-based system" means a communication

system which uses a deaf or hard of hearing person's speech or residual

hearing abilities, with or without the assistance of technology or cues;

(7) "Language, communication mode or style" means one or more of

the following: (A) ASL, (B) English-based manual or sign systems, (C) a

minimal sign language system to communicate with persons who use

home-based signs, idiosyncratic signs or a sign system or language from

another country, (D) oral, aural or speech-based systems with or

without assistive technology, and (E) tactile method ASL or Pro-Tactile

ASL as used by [deaf-blind] deafblind persons;

(8) "Primary language, communication mode or style" means the language, communication mode or style which is preferred by and most effective for a particular person, or as determined by an appropriate language assessment undertaken by persons proficient in the language, communication mode or style being assessed;

(9) "Culturally and linguistically affirmative mental health services" means the provision of a full continuum of mental health services to a deaf, deafblind or hard of hearing person through an appropriately licensed mental health professional fluent in the primary language, communication mode or style and cultural needs of the person requiring such services; and

(10) "Accessible mental health services" means the provision of a full continuum of mental health services with the use of auxiliary aids and services necessary for a deaf, deafblind or hard of hearing person to communicate with appropriately qualified mental health professionals who are not fluent in the primary language, communication mode or style of the person requiring such services, including, but not limited to, qualified interpreters utilizing the language or communication mode used by such person, written communications or assistive listening devices.


Practice Standards for DCF Workers
ALL visits, including home visits, court appearances, Considered Removal Meetings (CRM's), Permanency Team Meetings, along with Administrative Case Reviews (ACR's) must include interpreting services. Interpreting services must be provided by a certified interpreter.


When Requesting an Interpreter (Brochure)
  1. Request a certified interpreter through DAS vetted interpreter referral agencies.

                See Interpreters and Translators: Deaf and Hard of Hearing

  1. Always try to obtain the individuals preferred mode of communication prior to scheduling the interpreter. Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals use a variety of communication to include different modes of communication.  Please see Fact Sheet (LINK to Fact sheet). If you cannot determine their preferred mode of communication, then ask the individual when the interpreter is present. 
  2. Try to schedule interpreting services with as much time in advance as possible.  While interpreter services are available on an emergency basis, there are many different types of interpreters for different uses.  s.  As such, please try to plan ahead to ensure the most appropriate interpreter can be identified." (Note:  specify the need for a qualified interpreter when law enforcement is involved. 
  3. There are different types of interpreters for different uses. For example, some are certified nationally at different levels (medical, legal, etc), and some situations may require the use of more than one interpreter to ensure effective communication between all parties.
  4. Always meet the interpreter outside prior to entering the home.
  5. Deaf, deaf-blind and hard of hearing persons may exercise their right to request or use a different registered interpreter than the one provided to interpret for such persons in any interpreting setting in accordance with a nationally recognized interpreter code of professional conduct.

More information on working with interpreters is available here.


Things to Know About Deaf Culture
There are many barriers to effective communication and they may not all be apparent to you. Try to be mindful of your body language, facial expression, and maintaining eye contact with the deaf individual. When an interpreter is present, look and speak to the individual, not the interpreter.


Working with Providers:

Fact sheet/Tip sheet on how to work with providers (Hearing providers) (Tip Sheet)

PLEASE NOTE: Taking racial equity into consideration for specialized, clinical populations, the Department must ensure that the provider has knowledge and competency of the Caregiver/Child's specific cultural and linguistic needs. The Department is expected to ensure the Caregiver/Child is connected to a provider equipped with expertise and understanding of life experiences and cultural and linguistic circumstances at the onset of initial contact throughout the time period of the case.



Delivery of Services Using a Client’s Preferred Method of Communication, 21-3



Best Practice Guide:  Preferred Languages (Delivery of Service in a Client's Preferred Method of Communication)


Training offered by DCF Academy for Workforce Development

Our Work With Children and Families Within the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Population:Given Social Work Staff have a legal and ethical obligation to address the needs of diverse clients through nondiscriminatory stands and with a culturally competent lens this 3 hour interactive webinar was crafted to support staff in developing and/or boosting an awareness on the specialized needs related to work within the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Population. The goal of for staff to gain insight and an understanding of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community to strengthen their ability to appropriately assess and meet their needs.



Deaf and Hard of Hearing Interpreter Services


Contract Number: 19PSX0008
Please refer to the DAS Contract Board for questions about this contract.


Source Interpreting at the American School for the Deaf (In Person / Video Remote/ Certified Deaf Interpreters)
139 North Main Street
West Hartford, CT 06107

Contact: source@asd-1817.org
Phone: 860-969-0195


Interpreters Unlimited (American Sign Language Services (ASL)  Video Remote Only):
P.O. Box 27660
San Diego, CA

Yamira Estrada; Director
#: 858-275-2589 or 800-726-9822

Language Link Corp (In-Person Foreign Language Interpretation for Puerto Rico)

420 East Main St. Suite 7 Bldg 2
Branford Ct 06405

Contact: Santiago Achinelli: gillio@mylanguagelinnk.org
Phone: 203-305-6960
Fax: 203-285-8656

MasterWord Services, Inc
(ASL Video Remote Only):

303 Stafford Street
Houston, TX 77079

Contact: Graciela Zozaya
Phone: 346-907-6499 / 281-589-0810 ext 8966
E-Mail: GZozaya@masterword.com

CoSignCT (In-person, Video Remote ASL American Sign Language Interpretation, Certified Deaf Interpreters (CDI) )

34 Shelley Road

Middletown CT 06457


Director: Maeve



Email: scheduling@cosignct.com

Bilingual Professional Agency, INC (In-Person ASL American Sign Language Interpreters, Certified Deaf Interpreters (CDI) )

1663 E 17th Street

Brooklyn , NY 11229


Suzanne Hersher (Director)

# 718-382-2026



Contact:  Monica Rams, MS (she, her, hers)
CT Department of Children and Families
Director, Multicultural Affairs
505 Hudson Street, Hartford, Connecticut 06106
(O) 860-550-6303


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