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!
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.
We promise to provide our clients with outstanding professional services in their language by our agents and certified business partners.
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.
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.
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 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?
Deaf with an “uppercase D” is used to describe people who identify as culturally Deaf and are actively engaged with the Deaf community.
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.
When should an interpreter be present?
Onboarding. There is a lot of business information that is discussed during the onboarding process. Since clarity is so important an interpreter must be present.
Large Office Meetings. Always assume that your Deaf agents will participate in your office meetings and trainings. However, you can request RSVP's from your Deaf agents. They will understand.
In-person Market Center Trainings. Follow the same guidelines as with office meetings.
Annual Business Plan Meetings. The member of leadership (or coaching) who is facilitating the meeting with the Deaf agent should have an interpreter present.
BOLD, ALC meetings and other major events. Plan in advance and budget interpreter cost within your event's expenses (always assume and expect participation). Interpreter cost can be high when requested hourly in a regular bases or a lumpsum. Contact REIS or your local interpreting servicer in advance to obtain a quote.
SIMPLE TIPS FOR
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.
Great resources to use in a pinch or in informal situations
THESE ARE NOT SUBSTITUTES FOR ADEQUATE AND PROFESSIONAL COMMUNICATION.
VOICE TO TEXT
VOICE TO SIGN
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.
Promote KW-Signs designation PERKS:
Access to our nationwide referral network
Direct access to all our ASL-Accessible resources.
Free use of all KW-Signs marketing material to promote yourself as ASL-accessible.
Access to our free certification program for your preferred vendors to expand your branding as a fully accessible real estate service team. (plumbers to lawyers)
A unique downline recruiting tool.
Helping KW-Signs expand our goals of equity, empowerment, and resources for the DHoH communities.
And more, check out the link for the full list of current and upcoming benefits. ( https://www.kw-signs.com/membership )
Q: NOT LICENSED?
Easy! share the membership page on the KW-Signs website. KW-Signs has access to Deaf accessible real estate school programs.
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.
Sign up with REIS and set up an interpreter in advance. (If REIS is not yet in your market area , hire from a different interpreting company)
Provide the new agent with a "KW-Signs New Agent Manual" and explain the unique resources and services available with a KW-Signs membership.
❑ Have TL, MCA and Officer of First Impression take the KW-Signs Certification classes.
❑ Display all KW-Signs ASL-Accessible Business signage. (a digital and physical signage package will be sent to the Market Center -if you have not received one please request one)
❑ Encourage MSAs and other business partners/ vendors with great costumer service to become a KW-Signs ASL-Accessible Certified Business. (refer to the Vendor ASL-Accessible Training section in this manual for more information on certification)
❑ Obtain an REIS (Real Estate Interpreter Services) membership for the office. (If REIS is not yet available in your area make sure you have easy access to a local interpreting company)
❑ Obtain a Video Phone and Number for the office if agent request it. (refer to the technology tab in this manual to know how, or contact KW-Sigs)
❑ Make sure ALL Market Center videos are recordings or displayed with CC. This include all forms of social media.
BEST PRACTICES & STANDARDS
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 REIS 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Market centers with KW-Signs expansion teams or KW-Signs Agents should acquire the following technology:
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.
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.
DOWNLOAD THIS APP.
It allows the caller to see the interpreter and the person being called simultaneously. It is extremely useful to pick up non-verbal clues that can help with clear communication.
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.
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 cituation, 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.