Lessons from NAD Conference Make Phoenix a More Deaf-friendly City

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Frontline employees from Phoenix’s visitor industry are now better equipped to communicate with deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals thanks to the city’s hosting of the 53rd Biennial National Association of the Deaf Conference in early July. In advance of the conference, which was held at the Phoenix Convention Center, the National Association of the Deaf teamed with deaffriendly to conduct a two-hour workshop focused on deaf-friendly customer service. More than 200 travel and hospitality professionals attended the workshop, including staff from Visit Phoenix, the Phoenix Convention Center, Aventura Catering, the Downtown Phoenix Ambassadors and downtown hotels.

The workshop was led by deaffriendly CEO and founder Melissa Greenlee and community outreach manager Socorro Moore. They provided some basic American Sign Language (ASL) training and shared deaf-friendly tips such as being aware of one’s physical presence—so as not to block views of screens—and using bright yellow or orange paper to make signs easier to read. 
The Starbucks inside Phoenix Convention Center was one of several downtown businesses that made changes to better accommodate NAD Conference delegates. A deaf barista who attends nearby Arizona State University assisted the coffee shop’s staff for the duration of the conference, and menu cards were printed so deaf customers could write down their orders in advance of approaching the counter.

All Phoenix’s preparation seemed to pay off: Numerous complimentary reviews of the conference experience were posted on deaffriendly.com.