Accept Calls on Behalf of the Hearing- or Speech-Impaired
Q I manage an assisted site and there are several residents who are hard of hearing. When they get telephone calls, staff time gets taken up dealing with interpreting for them. Do we have to take these calls for them?
A Yes, says Cheryl McMillon, a 25-year veteran of assisted housing management and an expert on the Fair Housing Act, 42 USC §3601 et seq.
To avoid discriminating against the hearing- or speech-impaired, train your staff to accept calls made by hearing- or speech-impaired prospects or residents using the teletype telephone (TTY) operator relay phone system. Although calls from a relay service operator may be more time-consuming and awkward than regular calls, fair housing laws require owners and staff to accept these calls. Here’s how these calls work: The hearing or speech impaired person has a telephone operator connect her to a relay service operator. The hearing- or speech-impaired person then types her message into her teletype telephone, and the relay service operator places the call and reads the message aloud to the recipient. The recipient speaks in reply, and the relay service operator types in the reply, which appears on the caller’s screen.
You can use relay service operators to initiate calls too, if you need to contact a hearing-impaired prospect or resident. Ask a telephone operator to connect you to a relay service operator for the hearing impaired. The relay service operator will then type your message into a TTY that sends the message to the hearing-impaired person’s TTY. There is no additional charge for the service, McMillon says.
Source: Cheryl McMillon, Property Manager, Rampart Apts., Port Arthur, TX