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Effective Communication Policy

DirectBuy Policy for Ensuring Effective Communication with Individuals with Disabilities

DirectBuy’s Effective Communication Policy

Ensuring Effective Communication with Individuals with Disabilities

Consistent with the requirements of title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), it is the policy of DirectBuy not to discriminate against any individual with a disability in the full and equal enjoyment of our goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations. 42 U.S.C. §§ 12181 - 12189. It is also our policy to ensure that communications with individuals with disabilities are as effective as our communications with individuals without disabilities. 28 C.F.R. §§ 36.301(c), 36.303(c). Consistent with our obligations under title III of the ADA, DirectBuy will provide, free of charge, appropriate auxiliary aids and services, whenever necessary, to ensure effective communication with individuals with disabilities. This policy applies to all members and potential members with disabilities, and their companions, who are using or attempting to become a member of or use DirectBuy Clubs.

What Are Appropriate Auxiliary Aids and Services?

Appropriate auxiliary aids and services include a wide variety of equipment, materials, and personal services that may be necessary to ensure effective communication for people with disabilities. The following is a description of certain auxiliary aids and services that may be appropriate depending upon the circumstances. As set forth below, the particular auxiliary aids and services appropriate for a particular situation depend on the circumstances. It is not necessary to offer each and every one of the following auxiliary aids and services in every situation.

  • For persons who are deaf, are hard of hearing, or have speech disabilities: Qualified sign language and oral interpreters, hand-held or portable devices offering access to qualified sign language and oral interpreters, video remote interpreting services (as described below), note takers, computer-aided transcription services, written materials, telephone handset amplifiers, assistive listening devices, assistive listening systems, telephones compatible with hearing aids, closed caption decoders, open and closed captioning, TTYs / TDDs, videotext displays, telephone communication using relay services, accessible websites (e.g., those that convey audibly presented information visually), and other methods of delivering effective communication to these individuals, including methods that may come into use or existence; and
  • For persons who are blind or have low vision: Qualified readers, note takers, assistance in filling out forms, audio recordings, Brailled materials, large print materials, materials in accessible electronic formats (e-mail, HTML, word processing format), tactile materials (e.g., signature templates), video magnification devices and software, screen reader software, accessible websites (e.g., those that convey visually presented information in a format accessible to screen readers and other adaptive software and that will convey text in fonts and colors that persons with low vision can see), and other methods of delivering effective communication to these individuals, including methods that may come into use or existence.

Effective Communication During Face-to-Face Services

Pursuant to the Policy, DirectBuy shall provide members and potential members who are deaf, are hard of hearing, or have speech disabilities with appropriate auxiliary aids and services, including qualified sign language interpreters and oral interpreters, where necessary to ensure effective communication during face-to-face encounters.

DirectBuy will consult with members or potential members whenever possible to determine what type of auxiliary aid is needed to ensure effective communication, but the ultimate decision as to what measures to take rests with DirectBuy provided that the method chosen results in effective communication. The determination shall take into account the nature, circumstances, length, complexity, and importance of the communication, as well as the communication skills of the person with a disability for whom auxiliary aids and services have been requested.

What does the term “qualified interpreter” mean?

The term "qualified interpreter" includes "sign language interpreters," "oral interpreters,” or other “interpreters” who are able to interpret competently, accurately, and impartially, both receptively and expressively, using any specialized terminology necessary for effective communication with an individual who is deaf or hard of hearing or who has a speech disability, given that individual’s language skills and education. Not all interpreters are qualified for all situations. For example, an interpreter who is qualified to interpret using American Sign Language (ASL) is not necessarily qualified to interpret orally. Also, someone who has only a rudimentary familiarity with sign language or finger spelling is not a "qualified sign language interpreter." Likewise, someone who is fluent in sign language but who does not possess the ability to process spoken communication into the proper signs or to observe someone signing and translate their signed or finger-spelled communication into spoken words is not a qualified sign language interpreter. An interpreter who knows tactile interpreting may be the only interpreter who is qualified to interpret for someone who is both deaf and blind. Although an interpreter may be certified, a certified interpreter is not necessarily “qualified.” Similarly, certification is not required in order for an interpreter to be “qualified.” To provide reliable and effective qualified interpreter services, if in-person qualified interpreter services are called for and appropriate to the circumstances, DirectBuy may offer such services on a regular schedule, such as on a monthly basis, but persons requiring qualified interpreter services will not be required to accept such services solely on such regular schedule. The frequency of periodic in-person qualified interpreter sessions may be determined according to the circumstances appropriate to each location, which circumstances may include the general availability and suitability of qualified interpreters and the frequency of demand for their services.

Can DirectBuy ask or require family members or friends of individuals who are deaf, are hard of hearing, or have speech disabilities to interpret or provide other auxiliary aids and services for them?

No. DirectBuy may not ask or require friends or family members to interpret for individuals who are deaf, are hard of hearing, or have speech disabilities or provide other auxiliary aids and services for them. A family member or friend may not be qualified to render the necessary interpretation or other services due to factors such as professional or personal involvement or lack of the required skill.

What does the term "video remote interpreting ("VRI") services" mean?

The term "video remote interpreting ("VRI") service" means an interpreting service that uses video conference technology over dedicated lines or wireless technology offering high-speed, wide-bandwidth video connection that delivers high-quality video images meeting the following requirements:

   A. Real-time, full-motion video and audio over a dedicated high-speed, wide-bandwidth video connection or wireless connection that delivers high-quality video images that do not produce lags, choppy, blurry, or grainy images, or irregular pauses in communication;

   B. A sharply delineated image that is large enough to display the interpreter’s face, arms, hands, and fingers, and the participating individual’s face, arms, hands, and fingers, regardless of his or her body position;

   C. A clear, audible transmission of voices; and

   D. Adequate training to users of the technology and other involved individuals so that they may quickly and efficiently set up and operate the VRI.

Can DirectBuy charge an individual with a disability for the cost of providing an auxiliary aid or service needed for effective communication?

No. People with disabilities must not be asked to pay or be charged for the cost of an auxiliary aid or service needed for effective communication.

Are there specific procedures for requesting auxiliary aids and services?

Requests can be made by an individual with a disability who needs the auxiliary aids or services or by someone acting on that individual’s behalf. Requests can be made orally or in writing. Requests for interpreters should be made in advance whenever possible; in order to better enable DirectBuy to address the communication needs of the individual. All requests for auxiliary aids and services will be addressed promptly and in accordance with ADA requirements.

How does DirectBuy determine which auxiliary aids and services to provide?

The determination of which appropriate auxiliary aids and services are necessary, and the timing, duration, and frequency with which they will be provided, in order to ensure effective communication shall be made by DirectBuy. Where possible, DirectBuy shall make the determination in consultation with the individual who is deaf or hard of hearing or the individual who is blind, has low vision, or has a speech disability based on an individualized assessment. The assessment will take into account all relevant facts and circumstances, including without limitation, the following:

(a) The nature, length and importance of the communication at issue;

(b) The individual's communication skills and knowledge;

(c) The individual's request or statement of need for a specific auxiliary aid or service (e.g., interpreter, materials in Braille format);

(d) The availability at the required times of appropriate auxiliary aids and services, including qualified sign language or oral interpreters.

Before determining the type of interpreting service or materials in alternative format to be secured, DirectBuy will consult with the individual requiring the auxiliary aid or service and recognize the individual’s preferred mode of communication (e.g., American Sign Language, Signed English, oral interpreting, Braille, large print, materials in accessible electronic or audio format). In determining what type of auxiliary aid(s) or service(s) is/are necessary, DirectBuy will give consideration to the request(s) of the individual with a disability.

How will DirectBuy handle requests for auxiliary aids and services?

DirectBuy personnel will confer with the individual with the disability upon notification that any auxiliary aids and services have been requested to ascertain the circumstances, requirements, and preferences of the individual. DirectBuy will respond promptly to requests for auxiliary aids and services so that delays in responding do not deny individuals with disabilities an equal opportunity to participate in, and benefit from, DirectBuy’s services. Documentation of disability will generally not be requested or required.

DirectBuy personnel will maintain an Effective Communications Log containing records of requests for auxiliary aids and services except for simple requests that are immediately granted. Simple requests would typically include auxiliary aids and services that do not involve advance scheduling, such as using written notes or a telephone relay service to communicate with an individual who is deaf, is hard of hearing, or has a speech disability; providing large print, Braille, or electronic copies of standard brochures or account statements, reading and filling out forms, or providing way-finding assistance to a person who is blind or has low vision, The Effective Communication Log shall include each request for an auxiliary aid or service, the time and date the request is made, the name of the individual who made the request, the name of the individual for whom the auxiliary aid or service is being requested (if different from the requestor), the specific auxiliary aid or service requested, the time and date of the scheduled

Appointment (if a scheduled appointment was made), the purpose of the scheduled appointment (e.g., appointment to discuss membership), the time and date the auxiliary aid or service was provided, and the type of auxiliary aid or service provided if different from what was requested.

If, after consulting with an individual requesting auxiliary aids or services, DirectBuy determines that the circumstances do not warrant their provision, DirectBuy shall promptly provide written notice to the person requesting the auxiliary aid or service; the notice shall document the following: date and time of denial; any alternative auxiliary aids and services that were provided; the date and time they were provided; all facts considered in connection with the request; all reasons for the denial or provision of alternative auxiliary aids and services; and, the name(s) and title(s) of the person(s) who made the decision. DirectBuy shall maintain a copy of this notice with the Effective Communications Log.

When DirectBuy denies a request because the provision of the requested auxiliary aids and services would result in a fundamental alteration or undue financial and administrative burdens, DirectBuy shall provide an alternative auxiliary aid or service, if one exists, that would not result in such alteration or burden but would nevertheless ensure that, to the maximum extent possible, individuals with disabilities receive the full benefit of the products, services, privileges, advantages, benefits, facilities, and accommodations offered by DirectBuy.

DirectBuy personnel will ensure the confidentiality of members’ disability-related information provided in connection with a request for auxiliary aids and services and will keep it in a secure location separate from other records relating to the member, such as members’ account files. DirectBuy will not disclose information about an individual’s disability or requests for auxiliary aids and services except to DirectBuy personnel who have a need to know this information (e.g., to make a decision on a request for, and/or to provide, the auxiliary aids and services). Information about an individual’s disability and requests for auxiliary aids and services will not be disclosed to individuals who have no legitimate need to know this information, including DirectBuy personnel and participants in DirectBuy’s services. Notwithstanding these confidentiality requirements, DirectBuy personnel may maintain and disseminate members’ disability-related information as reasonably necessary to effectuate this Effective Communication Policy, and a member’s file may reflect the need to communicate with a member in a particular way which is necessary to ensure effective communications – e.g., telephone calls via relay services or print information provided in a requested alternative format (Braille, large print, audio or electronic format).

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