MARKET CENTER MANUAL

Welcome to the KW-Signs family!  This manual is intended to guide your market center leadership team on what it looks like to successfully support a Deaf, Hard-of-Hearing (HH) and ASL-Accessible agent in your market center. We will provide communication tips, best practices, necessary resources, and retention and recruiting strategies. 

Let’s get started!

KW-Signs

INTRODUCTION

OUR MISSION

We are trained Deaf/Hard of hearing and hearing agents with adequate tools to meet the real estate needs of the Deaf and HH communities.  KW-Signs provides our clients with access to an array of certified business partners who are in tune with the needs of the Deaf and Hard of hearing communities.   Beyond helping families attain the goal of home-ownership, KW Signs incentives the market to create new agent and vendor partnership opportunities for the Deaf and Hard of hearing communities in all fields related to real estate.  

OUR PROMISE

We promise to provide our clients with outstanding professional services in their language by our agents and certified business partners.

OUR GOALS
  • To provide strong opportunities for Deaf and HH real estate agents to participate in all levels of the real estate industry. 

  • To train successful Deaf and HH real estate agents. Their hard work will inspire other real estate related industries to hire Deaf, HH, or ASL proficient individuals in order to properly accommodate Deaf and HH clients. 

  • To create a fertile environment where Deaf and HH real estate agents can be successful and assist Deaf and HH community members to grow their wealth through real estate ownership and investment. 

  • To create a national home-ownership database of Deaf and HH homeowners, renters, buyers, sellers, investors, and landlords.

  • To set in motion a new perpetual real estate industry cycle nourished by wealth-building communities through employment and investments.

KW-Signs

  SUPPORT

    Structures

KW-Signs Group

A real estate group based in Fort Worth, TX with the ability to expand across the US. Members of the KW-Signs Group receive hands-on training, office support, marketing, and promotional materials, and other benefits. 

KW-Signs Designation

A membership for Keller Williams Agents who work with Deaf/HH clients. This membership allows agents access to exclusive KW-Signs resources without the benefits and responsibilities of the KW-Signs Group. KW-Signs Members only pay a monthly, or annual fee for direct access to KW-Signs resources. 

 

DEAF

CULTURE INSIGHTS

Deaf culture is important because it allows individuals to be who they are and to live in a way that is unique to who they are. When you are deaf, you see the world in a different way. Deaf community members communicate differently and seek out others who are deaf because they understand each other. 

Q: Why Deaf and NOT hearing-impaired? 

 

Hearing-impaired is a negative descriptor. The Deaf community does not see deafness as a disability.  A deaf person can physically do all the things a hearing person can do, the only difference is, Deaf community members communicate in a visual language rather than a spoken one.  Don’t be afraid of using the word Deaf, they embrace it and you should too. 

PARTICIPATE in local Deaf events

INVITE Deaf and HH neighbors, prospects, or past clients to events. 

SHOWCASE your Market Center as ASL-Accessible.

Q:   Deaf, deaf? Which one?ring-impaired is a negative

Deaf with an “uppercase D” is used to describe people who identify as culturally Deaf and are actively engaged with the Deaf community.

 

ASL

American Sign Language

American Sign Language (ASL) is a complete, complex language consisting of signs made by the hands, facial expressions, and body language. The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) calls ASL the “backbone of the American Deaf culture.  Is very important to keep in mind that ASL grammar is different from English grammar (Is more closely related to French), so it is not uncommon to see this grammatical order in their written communication.   Unfortunately, this discrepancy is seen or perceived as a lack of education or simple-mindedness. 

ASL is not the only form of sign language. 

There are many variations.  ESL for example is closer associated with the English language than ASL. Additionally, many countries and international areas have their own sign language and even within ASL there are small variations like accents in spoken language.   When a deaf individual is not fluent in ASL, a special intermediate interpreter is needed.  A CDI is a CertifiedDeaf Interpreter who interprets non-ASL signs into ASL.  

COMMUNICATING WITH DEAF/HH AGENTS AND CUSTOMERS

( Team Meetings, ALC Meetings, Onboarding, Office-wide In-office and virtual/zoom training)

(ADA) requires that a qualified sign language interpreter be provided.  A "qualified" interpreter means someone who is able to interpret effectively, accurately, and impartially, both receptive and expressive using any necessary specialized vocabulary.

 

Real Estate Interpreter Services

is the only interpreting company that appropriately fulfills ADA requirements for real estate companies. REIS trains interpreters in the complexity of the real estate process and vocabulary.

Other Interpreting Services:

There are a few other local interpreting companies in your area.  They are normally easy to find online, they have an hourly rate with a minimum of hours, and they have a single-use contract per visit. However, these interpreters are not specialized in real estate procedures and vocabulary. 

Inadequate communication creates frustration. In the event that the communication is not fluid, you have the choice to reschedule with a different interpreter. Your Deaf client/agent’s understanding is paramount. 

SIMPLE TIPS FOR 

COMMUNICATION

Embrace feeling uncomfortable. Your first attempts to communicate may feel uncomfortable and awkward. This will pass as your interaction progresses.

It’s OK to write it down. They will appreciate your efforts even more if you use a combination of communication methods, such as hand gestures, facial expressions, and the written word.

Communicate and connect. Deaf people consider communication an investment of time and effort. Slow down and ask for clarification if needed.

Deaf/HH people listen with their eyes. Vision is the most useful tool they have to communicate and receive information. For this reason, only speak when you have eye contact, even if they are using an interpreter. Maintaining eye contact is a sign of respect.

Physical & visual contact. At the beginning and end of a conversation,  make physical and visual contact with the Deaf/HH person, especially if they have been using an interpreter during your conversation. Smile, shake hands, touch their arm (if appropriate) and make eye contact. 

Check the noise and lighting. Turn off or move away from background noise. Make sure your face is not in shadow and there are no strong lights or sunshine in their eyes.

Keep your distance. Stand 3-4 feet away from the Deaf/HH person. This is especially important for those with hearing-aids, lip-readers, and signers.

Speak clearly, slowly and steadily. Don’t mumble, shout or exaggerate – it distorts your lip patterns and will impact the ability of someone who is reading lips to understand you.

Take turns. If there is more than one person in a conversation, do not overlap the conversation, take turns to communicate.

Repeat or say it differently. Saying the same thing in a different way might help a lip-reader understand because lips patterns may change into more recognizable ones.

Be patient. Keep trying. One of the most important points to remember is to keep trying – even if a deaf person does not understand what you’re saying the first few times. Be patient and don’t give up.

Q:  How do I interact with an interpreter? 

When communicating through an interpreter, remember to ALWAYS speak to the Deaf person directly as if they could hear.  DO NOT address the interpreter. Interpreters are not a participant of the conversation, they are hired to only interpret what is being said.  They may introduce themselves, however they are trained to refrain from engaging in idle conversation. Understanding and respecting these dynamics are important. The interpreter and the Deaf person will appreciate it.       

QUICK ACCESS

HEARING-DEAF

                                   CONNECTING APPS

Great resources to use in a pinch or in informal situations

THESE ARE NOT SUBSTITUTES FOR ADEQUATE AND PROFESSIONAL COMMUNICATION. 

VOICE TO TEXT

LIVE TRANSLATE

AVA

VOICE TO SIGN

JEENIE

ATTRACTING

DEAF, HoH and ASL-Accessible talent 

A good reputation.  The Deaf community is a very close-knit community.  Reputations, especially for hearing business, is paramount. 

Have and Market your KW-Signs ASL-Accessible Certification.

Keep your office KW-Signs signage visible. Signage PDFs provided by KW-Signs. 

Make a good impression, learn a little ASL.  Use REIS basic ASL class handout to practice. Keep the handout accessible for anyone to use and share its location.

Use KW-Signs logos,  Mission Statement, and Goals in marketing.

Q:  NOT LICENSED?

Easy! share the membership page on the KW-Signs website.  KW-Signs has access to Deaf accessible real estate school programs.  

ONBOARDING 

DEAF AND HoH TALENT

Don't do or say anything different than you would normally do.

Have the right technology available at hand in case they are needed.  Voice-Text apps installed for Deaf clients or sound amplifiers for Hard of Hearing agents.

Set up an interpreter in advance

Provide the new agent with a "KW-Signs New Agent Manual" and explain the unique resources and services available with a KW-Signs membership.

TRAINING 

       BEST PRACTICES & STANDARDS

live training

ASL- Interpreted

ASL- Interpreted

Turn on Closed Captioning or subtitle options on ALL your videos.  Best practices require that you read and fix any incorrect wording on the subtitles.

Help find and encourage business partners/vendors to become KW- Signs ASL Accessible Certified.

Schedule an interpreter ahead of time.  Don’t inquire whether an interpreter is needed, instead, always assume you need an interpreter if a Deaf Agent is participating. 

Guide Deaf agents to access KW-Signs ASL- interpreted video library of KWU content. 

Hearing ASL-Fluent or ASL-Accessible agents can find interpreted real estate vocabulary and concepts 

Video record training classes and meetings.

VENDOR

           ASL-ACCESSIBLE 

TRAINING

KW-signs ASL-ACCESSIBLE BUSINESS CERTIFICATION

Agents rely on close relationships with vendors and business partners to provide outstanding service to their clients and customers.   In order to help create these same relationships between Deaf agents, their clients, and the same providers hearing clients have, KW-Signs has designed a certification program that educates, and assists businesses become Deaf accessible and ADA compliant.   The program consists of 4 minimum standards including 3 sensitivity classes, and access to qualified interpreters with a REIS membership.  

STANDARD #1

Deaf and Hard of Hearing Culture: A 1.5 hour free class though by Deaf Action Center where business employees learn important facts about the Deaf and Hard of Hearing communities.   This course also brings light on how to properly communicate with a Deaf or HH client through technology and/or an interpreter.  Lastly, this class will help alleviate any misunderstandings or stereotypes perpetuated by the hearing community.   

STANDARD #2

ASL Introduction: A 1.5-hour free class taught by REIS where business employees learn a set of basic signs that will allow them to interact with Deaf clients. They learn simple phrases like Welcome!, good morning!, I am hearing, please hold on a sec, etc.

STANDARD #3

Communication Technology and Resources: A 1.5 H free class taught by Deaf Action Center where business employees learn about an array of technology used by Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals in order to communicate.  This class gives an overview of the technology but also the services that businesses can have available to communicate properly with Deaf and H.H. clients.

STANDARD #4

Maintain an active REIS membership.  

Q:  Why become KW-Signs ASL-Accessible Certified?

 

KW-Signs Agents prefer working with KW-Signs ASL-Accessible Certified Businesses because they know their Deaf/HH clients have a much greater chance to have an enjoyable and positive experience. Market Centers with Deaf or KW-Signs agents can help ensure their success by becoming KW-Signs ASL-Accessible Certified. We strongly suggest that the TL and Director Officer of First Impression take the certification classes.  Additionally, we ask market centers with KW-Signs agents, to assist KW-Sins agents on finding and encouraging reputable vendors and business partners to become KW-Signs ASL- Accessible Certified.  

 
 
 

TECHNOLOGY

Market centers with KW-Signs expansion teams or KW-Signs Agents should acquire the following technology:

VP-PHONE

A VP-Phone and its service are free of charge. 

HOW TO APPLY AND OBTAIN A VIDEO PHONE 

Market Center MCA or TL applies for the service on behalf of the Deaf Agent(s). This includes a signed agreement that explicitly points out that the VP-Phone and its services are only to be used by sign-proficient individuals. Not abiding by this agreement will result in fines and a revocal of the equipment and service.    Office Video Phone Notice PDF

The service provider will verify the application.

The service provider will mail the equipment and how to install it.  

Have a KW-Signs Agent complete the setup. 

Make sure the service is set up for “Private use” and not “Public use”  "Public use" is limited and will not allow call back video messages.

SERVICE PROVIDERS
Sorenson-Communications-logo.png
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Q:  Can a hearing person call a VP phone?

 

YES! When calling a VP phone using an audio phone,  the VP- phone service has interpreters who interpret the conversation. And vise-versa.

VOICE AMPLIFIERS

There are many different types of amplifiers.  These convenient devices are easy to use and are very convenient.   Unfortunately, the negative stigma of hearing loss keeps people with hearing loss from requesting assistance.   

Q:  How do you know if someone needs an amplifier? 

No need to ask your client whether they need it or not, just have the device visible during the meetings.  If the guest recognizes the technology, they will be comfortable requesting to use it; or many times, curiosity will push the guest to ask what that is. By explaining what it does and suggesting they try it, it may make them comfortable to use them.

 

OUR

COMMITMENTTO YOU!

KW-Signs is here to support you! 

 

We continue to create tools and resources to help market centers and agents succeed.  If you are not certain of what to do or know how to proceed in a specific citation, don't hesitate to reach out.    We have access to a series of advisors and partners in the Deaf community who can help us guide you. 

 

ASL.KWAgents@gmail.com

 

Visit KW-Signs main office

6333 Camp Bowie Blvd. #268

Fort Worth, TX  76123 

Call

VP: 682-730-9421

TXT: 682-231-0587

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