Communication Support assists people of all ages to communicate. If you are deaf or hard of hearing, blind, or deafblind this type of support can assist you. Such support is also useful if you have vision or speech impairments.
Large print and Braille are examples. Sign language and cued speech are examples, too. Communication Support also includes speech access or readers, and open or closed captioning. More examples are sign language and cued speech. Oral transliterators and interpreters support communication, too. Telecommunications devices and relay services are high-tech support.
Communication Support includes making websites usable by all people. The best websites give everyone equal access to information. Find out more at the National Federation for the Blind website and the American Council of the Blind website.
If you have a vision loss or a combined vision and hearing loss, contact the Virginia Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired (DBVI) about their services. These include:
- rehabilitation teaching
- independent living
- vocational rehabilitation
- education coordination
- deafblind services
- low vision services
- rehabilitation engineering services
If you are deaf or hard of hearing, the Virginia Department for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (VDDHH) offers:
- Interpreter Services Coordination
- A Directory of Qualified Interpreters
- Virginia Quality Assurance Screening for Sign Language Interpreters
- Technology Assistance Program
- Library Services
- Virginia Relay Oversight
- Video Relay Services Access
- Training and Technical Assistance
- Information and Referral
- Individualized Problem Resolution
VDDHH also has a network of Outreach Services Providers offering these services locally.
If you have a hearing or speech impairment, you can use a free telephone relay service by calling 7-1-1. For general information, visit the Virginia Relay. To learn how to use the relay service, or if you have a speech impairment go to speech to speech.
If you have a vision loss or a combined vision and hearing loss, costs are based on a sliding fee scale that varies by DBVI program.
Costs for services provided by VDDHH depend on which service you need. Most of these services are provided at no cost. If you meet the income guidelines, you may qualify for no-cost devices through the Technology Assistance Program. Costs for interpreter services are usually covered by the public provider asking for the service.
If you have a vision loss or a combined vision and hearing loss and live in Virginia, you may apply for these services. Eligibility for DBVI programs varies, and is based on how much vision loss you have.
Most VDDHH services are available to the public except:
- In the Technology Assistance Program, you must provide certification of hearing loss, proof of Virginia residency, and income information.
- Interpreter Services coordination is available for state agencies and courts. It is also available on a limited basis to individuals in situations not covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act. Usually, a billing address is needed for VDDHH to coordinate interpreter services.
If you have a vision loss or a combined vision and hearing loss, the first step is a toll-free telephone call to DBVI at 1-800-622-2155 (Voice/TTY). Be ready to give your contact information and describe your vision loss.
For services from VDDHH, contact them at 1-800-552-7917 (Voice/TTY) or send an e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Another program that may be helpful to you is a service that reads newspapers, magazines, and other current publications every day. This service is to help people that cannot read for themselves because of a vision loss or another condition or disability. To find a service near you, visit the following websites:
- The Metropolitan Washington Ear (serving Northern Virginia) or call (301) 681-6636
- Valley Voice (serving the Shenandoah Valley) or call (540) 568-3811
- The Virginia Tech Radio Reading Service (serving the Roanoke/Blue Ridge area) or call (540) 989-8900
- Virginia Voice (serving Central Virginia) or call (804) 266-2477
- The WHRO Voice (serving the Tidewater area) or call (757) 889-9400
- The American Association of the Deaf-Blind
- The American Council of the Blind
- The Blinded Veterans Association
- The Hearing Loss Association of America (formerly Self Help For Hard of Hearing, Inc.)
- The National Association of the Deaf
- The National Federation of the Blind
- The Virginia Association of the Deaf