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Transcript: Communication Access and Self-Advocacy

[White text on black background reads: Communication Access and Self-Advocacy. Under the text is the Minnesota Department of Human Services Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services Division logo. Regina Daniels, Certified Deaf Interpreter, is on the right side of the screen, wearing glasses and a lavender sweater.]

Receiving and sharing information is essential to learning, exchanging ideas, expressing feelings, and forming relationships. This can be a major obstacle for people who are deaf, deafblind and hard of hearing. 

Your right to communication access is protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act and other federal laws. It’s important to understand these rights and where they apply. You can learn more about the ADA in this section of the website. Other important laws are IDEA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. 

Communication access is not a “one size fits all” solution. Effective communication will depend on your degree of hearing loss, your preferred mode of communication, and the situation where communication is taking place. 

Assistive technology is an important part of your communications toolbox. 


People who are deaf, deafblind, or hard of hearing must be flexible, creative, and prepared to advocate for their communication needs. 

Self-advocacy means advocating for yourself and telling someone what you need in order to have equal communication access. 

Successful self-advocates know their rights and can explain their needs in a clear, respectful way. You know what you need in order to access and share information with others. By advocating for your needs, you are taking control of your life. 

The National Association of the Deaf suggests explaining exactly what you need for communication access, making your request as early as possible, and offering resources for finding an interpreter or the auxiliary aid or service you are requesting. 

It can be very empowering to advocate successfully for what you need instead of relying on others to decide what they think will work best for you. You will find tips for effective self-advocacy in this section of the website. 

We’re Here to Help 

You can learn more about communication access and self-advocacy in this section of the website. You’ll find information on communication access and your legal rights, The Americans with Disabilities Act, communication tips and best practices, tips for communicating on the telephone with callers who are hard of hearing, information on CART, the TED program, and telephone relay options, and emergency preparedness and safety tools and information Select Contact Us on this website if you have questions or need personal assistance.

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