People who are deaf or hard of hearing deserve access to information about cannabis, just like hearing people.
When a deaf person tries to communicate without the presence of an interpreter and is given paper and a pen to try to have a conversation, she is put in a situation in which she tries to communicate in another language. . In the United States, entering the clinic for the first time, its only choice is to quickly relay all questions or concerns without the appropriate language tools.
The difficulties of communicating about cannabis
In dispensaries, even when the salesman is fluent in sign language, there are major obstacles for deaf people. For example, there is no sign of the endocannabinoid system, topical products, distillate, hemp, terpenes, and other terms that allow anyone to better understand the potential benefits of cannabis. Another obstacle: a deaf person calling medical professionals to obtain certification (in the United States this is legal) or shows up for an appointment without any interpretation service, his ability to discuss medical benefits is very limited.
Discussions may not even take place if the person on the other end of the phone or on the other side of the desk refuses to acquiesce, even in the slightest way. David Cabral, an activist in deaf communities and a cannabis activist, is the founder of the National Cannabis Disability Association. He often faces this discrimination. He was denied some paper and a pen to send him information, and people hung up on him before the telephone service had a chance to reach him. Hearing people, even those who are fluent in sign language, often do not know how deaf people communicate.
In dispensaries, even with trained and competent staff, this does not work when the client has to spell "endocannabinoid system". There is no way to express the nuances of different strains. A whole vocabulary is missing in sign language. In addition, companies do not offer any type of communication training to speak specifically to the deaf.
Cabral explains to H hiring deaf people to consult them in the salesperson training process can really help. Living in Boston, he does not see much deaf representation in the cannabis sales space, but he knows there are Deaf people who want to work in the cannabis field. He suggests hiring deaf people in culture, manufacturing and ancillary businesses; he says that one of the main reasons for not seeing more deaf people in the cannabis world is financial.
Cabral strives to get more deaf people to attend these events by having interpreters present, and its long-term goals include engaging deaf-based cannabis companies in panels, such as: sponsors and suppliers.
Its short-term goals are to provide information to the cannabis community to enable greater accessibility to the deaf community through concrete means such as remote video interpretation (VRI), video telephones and sub-devices. titles available for the hearing impaired. Through educational workshops and webinars, he wants to provide businesses with accessible ways to train staff to interact with interpreters, and even simple sign language phrases that could facilitate a basic conversation with a person. deaf.
Even a rudimentary understanding would be a good start for companies that do not have the resources to implement the other tools. Stephanie Kerns, a cannabis activist who works in the cannabis business since 2011, says sellers are not getting proper training. Having practiced sign language for many years, she was often the saleswoman a deaf client was looking for.
Ms. Kerns says she has seen deaf clients feel frustrated by the lack of attention and that in such a delicate situation, patience is essential. If salespeople learn 10 to 15 signs that would help with communication, the environment would be more inclusive. Hiring a deaf person to teach the signs and to offer a type of awareness training would also allow a more accurate and therefore safer discussion about the products.
Adding other signs to cover these terms would greatly facilitate communication for deaf and hard of hearing people. A professional interpreter, Renae Erbaccia, saw this need when she tried to discuss the medicinal properties of cannabis. She saw the need for a comprehensive glossary of cannabis terms in sign language that would eliminate some of these barriers.
From this realization came a project called Signs for the Times, a collaboration between Dr. Regina Nelson of the non-profit educational association The ECS Therapy Center and a team of deaf professionals. Nelson was hired to teach the team the basics of cannabis, with the goal of creating a video glossary of cannabis terms available at each clinic. The team of deaf professionals is led by Ryan Kobylarz, PhD.
"Ryan and Regina Nelson will meet soon to establish a plan to allow this project to flourish," says Erbaccia.
Unfortunately, the Erbaccia and Cabral projects lack funding and attention from the rest of the cannabis community. Due to lack of fundraising, Erbaccia says the project has not started as planned, but things are still moving forward. Cabral did not even receive a quarter of the amount needed on his Go Fund Me page, but that does not slow him down.
Because cannabis is an emerging industry, things move fast, and Cabral understands that there is a lot of work to be done in a short time. For the deaf community to be able to adopt cannabis, it must have the same opportunities to apply for a license as producers and manufacturers. Barriers to accessibility exist in all areas of the cannabis space, far beyond the medical and retail sectors, and Cabral is doing everything in its power to change that.
Having access to the video discussion available, says Cabral, it would be a big bonus for deaf people. For now, there is not much choice for a deaf person who wants to discuss products or ask questions. Cabral says that hearing people assume that deaf people can read something that has no sign language translation.
"People can not understand that one can read something, understand one thing, and they will just avoid [buying cannabis] according to my findings," Cabral told High Times.