Auxiliary Aids and Services

People who are hearing impaired, Deaf, visually impaired, Blind, or have problems with speaking, reading, writing, remembering or understanding may use different ways to communicate.

Effective communication depends upon the complexity of the information being exchanged. There are many ways to provide equal access to communications for disabled people. Often referred to as “auxiliary aids and services,” these are devices or services that enable effective communication.

Generally, the requirement to provide an auxiliary aid or service is triggered when a person requests it, though there may be some circumstances where it would be appropriate to notify an individual, for example a person who is blind, that they have a right to request auxiliary aids and services since that individual could not be expected to read of such a right on their own. Different auxiliary aids and services may be required for the same person at different times depending upon the complexity of the communication.

Here are some examples of different auxiliary aids and services that may be used to provide effective communication for disabled people. Not all ways work for all communication disabled people or even for people with one type of disability, so consult with the individual to determine what is effective for her or him.

  • Qualified British Sign Language interpreters
  • Lip speakers
  • Notetakers
  • Electronic Screen reader software
  • Computer Aided Real-Time Transcription (CART)
  • Written materials
  • Telephone handset amplifiers
  • Assistive listening devices
  • Hearing aid compatible telephones
  • Text telephones
  • E-mail
  • Text messaging
  • Qualified readers
  • Taped texts
  • Audio recordings
  • Braille materials
  • Large print materials
  • Material in electronic formats


Sign Language Interpreters

Most deaf individuals consider the Deaf community a distinct cultural and linguistic group. The syntax and grammar of Sign Language is independent of English or other languages, and those who use it are a distinct linguistic group. People who use Sign Language as their primary language share experiences that parallel those of other cultural and linguistic minority groups. In order for a hearing person, such as a Navigator, to communicate effectively with someone who is deaf and whose primary language is Sign Language, an interpreter will likely be necessary. Sign Language interpreters are highly skilled, certified professionals that facilitate communication between hearing individuals and people who are deaf or hard-of-hearing. Navigator organisations should identify community groups that refer Sign Language interpreters in order to be prepared to accommodate any consumers who request interpreters.(See Resources.)


Written Communications

Accessing written communications may be difficult for people who are blind or have visual impairments, who have certain cognitive or learning impairments, or who have other related disabilities. Alternative formats such as Braille, large print text, emails, text messages, or other digital formats, or audio recordings are often effective ways of making  information accessible to these individuals. In instances where information is provided in written form, organisations and services should ensure effective communication for people who cannot read the text. Consider the context, the importance of the information, and the length and complexity of the materials.

When planning ahead to print and produce documents, it is relatively easy to print or order the materials in alternative formats, such as large print, Braille, audio recordings, and documents stored electronically. It is also easier to produce these alternative formats with accuracy and within a reasonable time if organisations and services have established relationships with community organisations that produce materials in accessible formats.


Telecommunications Relay Service

Relay service allow people with communications disabilities, such as those who are deaf, hard of hearing, and who have a speech impairment, to interact with voice telephone users through a keyboard or other input method.  

Type Talk uses operators, called communications assistants  to facilitate telephone calls between people with a hearing and speech disability and other individuals. Either a person with a hearing or speech disability, or a person without such a disability may initiate a Type Talk call. When a person with a hearing or speech disability initiates  the call, the person uses a teletypewriter or other text input device to call the  relay centre, and gives the number of the party that he or she wants to call. The Tele Type assistant in turn places an outbound traditional voice call to that person and then serves as a link for the call, relaying the text of the calling party in voice to the called party, and converting to text what the called party voices back to the calling party.

Organisations and services that can provide information and advice on accessing auxiliary aids and devices:

  • Low Incidence Needs Service
  • Hearing Impaired Service - Darlington Adult Social Care
  • Rehabilitation Service for the Visually Impaired
  • Access to Work
  • DAD
  • RNIB
  • Action on Hearing Loss
  • Independent Living Fund for equipment
  • Speech and Language service
  • Living Made Easy


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