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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.”
Ways To Communicate With a Deaf and Hard of Hearing Individual

Brochure (prepared specifically for the State of Connecticut Department of Children and Families.)

  1. All DCF offices have a TTY available. The keyboard is similar to a standard computer keyboard. There is TTY etiquette you need to follow. Type “GA”, which means go ahead, at the end of your sentence to inform the other person it is their turn. Also watch for “GA” which means it is your turn to talk. Type “SK” to end the conversation.
  2. Call 711 for relay services.  Tell the 711 operator the number you wish to call. The relay operator will dial it and then communicate using a TTY with the individual.  Remember to use “go ahead” and “SK” just as you would with using a TTY. Please speak directly to the individual, not the operator.
  3. Some individuals use video relay. They utilize a computer equipped with a video camera and use sign language to communicate with an interpreter instead of a TTY. Not many have access to this, but if they do, it is very helpful for an individual with limited English who is not able to communicate with a TTY.


Practice Standards for DCF Workers
ALL visits, including home visits, court appearances and treatment meetings (ACRS), must include interpreting services. Interpreting services must be provided by a certified interpreter. Certified interpreters are provided by two agencies in the state of CT, CDHI and FSW. You may be able to find other local agencies that have certified interpreters.


When Requesting an Interpreter
  1. Request a certified interpreter through CDHI or FSW. (numbers listed on back)
  2. Always try to obtain the individuals preferred mode of communication prior to scheduling the interpreter. Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals can use a variety of communication to include (ASL – American Sign Language, Oral – lip reads and uses voice, PSE- Pidgin Signed English, Signed English, MLS – Minimal Language Skills or Gestural) If you cannot determine their preferred mode of communication, then ask the individual when the interpreter is present. 
  3. Try to schedule interpreting services two weeks in advance. A suggestion is to plan your home visits (even unannounced) a month at a time to ensure the availability of interpreter services for your home visits. Interpreter services are available on an emergency basis.
  4. There are different types of interpreters for different uses.  Interpreters are certified nationally at different skill levels (medical, legal). Some situations may require the use of more than one interpreter to ensure effective communication between all parties.

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.



Delivery of Services Using a Client’s Preferred Method of Communication21-3



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

ASL: American Sign Language
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


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 and Video Remote)
139 North Main Street
West Hartford, CT 06107 


Contact: Sara Gerhold, source@asd-1817.org

Phone: 860-570-1829
Fax: 860-969-0195

Interpreters Unlimited (Only Video Remote)
11199 Sorrento valley Rd  Suite 203
San Diego, CA

Contact: Shamus Sayed
#: 800-726-9891
Fax: 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


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


Office of Multicultural Affairs Home