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Two-Way ASL Interpretation

On May 1, 2018, TD introduced an on-demand, two-way American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation feature within its Canadian branches, offering the Deaf and hard of hearing community greater flexibility for everyday banking.

Going beyond the limits

In conversation with TD about the importance of increasing banking accessibility, and the strides being made to close the gap

TD Bank Group

Dealing with finances can often be stressful. Add to this different language requirements and routine banking transactions can become daunting, emotional tasks. Finding ways to make online, mobile and other technological experiences accessible and usable to people with different needs is paramount.

On May 1, 2018, TD introduced an on-demand, two-way American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation feature within its Canadian branches, offering the Deaf and hard of hearing community greater flexibility for everyday banking.

We sat down with three longtime employees to give us the rundown of how this new feature will benefit customers and colleagues alike – Nancy Goduto, a 20-year veteran of TD who’s had a varied career and uses her experience as a person who is Deaf to proudly advocate for accessibility within TD and for its customers; Patricia Barnes who works directly with customers every day as a Manager of Customer Service in one of the Oshawa branches that first piloted the new feature; and Jen Popkey, a long-time sign language interpreter at TD.

Abilities: Why is the ASL interpretation feature important for people within the Deaf and hard of hearing community?

Nancy: Up until now, our access to language accommodation in banking has been very slow. Previously, the community and I needed to book an interpreter up to three weeks in advance, even for simple, every day banking activities.

Having access to this new ASL interpretation feature will facilitate immediate, on-demand, two-way dialogue, which levels the playing field and allows us to fully express ourselves more easily.

Abilities: Can you explain what the feature is and how it works?

Jen: This real-time video service app, available on iPads in branches, is important in helping more customers fully participate in their banking experience.

A customer from the Deaf and hard of hearing community can now walk into any branch across Canada and immediately access ASL interpretation via iPad video chat. For the customer, it’s as easy as knowing about and asking for the service. For the employee, it’s as easy as two clicks to open LanguageLine and select ASL as the desired language.

TD has been working with LanguageLine for many years to provide 24/7 access to translations in over 240 languages. It’s exciting that ASL is the latest addition.

Abilities: Tell us a bit about real-time interpretation and why it’s so important.

Nancy: ASL is our first language, and it’s an art. Think of communicating without an interpreter – it would be like viewing a painting in black and white. With an interpreter, it’s like seeing the same painting in full colour.

Interpreters relay subtle yet important nuances through body language, facial expression and unique rules within ASL called “facial grammar.” This enables clear communication of nonverbal cues that would be expressed through vocal tones, intonations and volume.

Abilities: How does real-time interpretation help hearing employees better serve customers who are Deaf or hard of hearing?

Patricia: Two-way, real-time interpretation bridges the gap between the customer and employee, removing barriers and allowing the employee to provide a fuller, more personalized experience.

Nancy: Real-time interpretation allows the branch employee and customer to relay information to one another and better understand each other. This lessens anxiety and reduces confusion that can cause an otherwise ordinary transaction to become stressful.

Abilities: Who needs to be aware of this feature to ensure people benefit from it?

Patricia: For TD, it’s important that all of our employees know this feature is available. Once they have that awareness, the positive impact will build and accelerate – they will be able to communicate to customers who can benefit from it, and use it to provide a better customer experience, every time.

Nancy: Awareness within the deaf and hard of hearing community is important, because people can only benefit from this app if they know it exists. That’s why I’m thrilled it rolled out in time for Mayfest* earlier this year.

*Mayfest is the largest event for Deaf awareness in Canada. Now in its 44th year, it brings together exhibitors from all over North America including artists, education providers and interpreters within the Deaf and hard of hearing community.

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