Give better information to people who are deaf or hard of hearing

Photography by Paul Wilkinson

People who are deaf or hard of hearing deserve access to information about cannabis, as do people who are hearing.

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, they are put in a situation where they are trying to communicate in another language. . In the United States, upon entering a dispensary for the first time, his only choice is to quickly relay any questions or concerns without the proper language tools.

How do you say "hash oil" in sign language?
How do you say "hash oil" in sign language?

The difficulties of communicating about cannabis

In dispensaries, even when the salesperson is fluent in sign language, there are major barriers for people who are deaf. For example, there is no sign to talk about the endocannabinoid system, topicals, distillate, hemp, terpenes, and other terms that give anyone a better understanding of the possible benefits of cannabis. Another barrier: a deaf person calling medical professionals for certification (in US states this is legal) or showing up for an appointment without any interpretation service, their 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 agree, even in the slightest way. David Cabral, activist in deaf communities and cannabis activist is the founder of the National Cannabis Disability Association. He often faces this discrimination. He was refused paper and a pen to convey information to him, and people hung up on him before the telephone interpretation service had a chance to reach him. Hearing people, even those who are fluent in sign language, are often unaware of how deaf people communicate.

In clinics, even with trained and knowledgeable staff, it 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 with deaf people.

Cabral explains to H that hiring deaf people to consult with them in the salesperson training process can really help. Living in Boston, he doesn't see much of a deaf representation in the cannabis retail space, but he does know that there are deaf people who want to work in the cannabis business. He suggests hiring deaf people in cultivation, manufacturing, and ancillary businesses; he says one of the main reasons for not seeing more deaf people in the cannabis world is financial.

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Cabral strives to get more deaf people to participate in these events by having performers in attendance, and his long-term goals include the participation of deaf-owned cannabis companies on panels, such as sponsors and suppliers.

Its short-term objectives are to provide information to the cannabis community to allow greater accessibility to the deaf community through concrete means such as remote video interpretation (VRI), video telephone and sub- titles for the hearing impaired available in stores. Through educational workshops and webinars, he wants to offer businesses accessible ways to train staff on how to interact with interpreters, and even simple sign language sentences that could facilitate a basic conversation with a person. deaf.

Even a rudimentary understanding would be a good start for companies that don't have the resources to implement the other tools. Stephanie Kerns, a cannabis activist who has worked in the cannabis business since 2011, says sellers are not receiving adequate training. Having practiced sign language for several years, she was often the salesperson that a deaf customer was looking for.

Ms Kerns says she has seen deaf customers become frustrated with the lack of attention given and that in such a delicate situation, patience is essential. If salespeople learned 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 provide some type of awareness training would also allow for a more accurate and therefore safer discussion about the products.

Adding other signs to cover these terms would make communication much easier for people who are deaf and hard of hearing. 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 remove some of these barriers.

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From this awareness was born a project called Signs for the Times, a collaboration between Dr Regina Nelson of the nonprofit educational association The ECS Therapy Center and a team of deaf professionals. Nelson was hired to teach team members the basics of cannabis, with the goal of creating a video glossary of cannabis terms available at each dispensary. The team of deaf professionals is led by Ryan Kobylarz, PhD.

“Ryan and Regina Nelson will be meeting soon to make a plan to allow this project to flourish,” Erbaccia says.

Unfortunately, Erbaccia and Cabral's projects lack funding and attention from the rest of the cannabis community. Due to the lack of fundraising, Erbaccia says the project did not start as planned, but things are still moving forward. Cabral didn't even get a quarter of the amount he needed on his Go Fund Me page, but that doesn't 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 period of time. In order for the deaf community to adopt cannabis, they must have the same opportunities to apply for a license as producers and manufacturers. Barriers to accessibility exist across all sectors of the cannabis space, well beyond medical and retail, and Cabral is doing everything in its power to change that.

Having access to the available video chat, Cabral points out, would be a big bonus for deaf people. At the moment, there isn't much choice for a deaf person who wants to discuss products or ask questions. Cabral says hearing people assume deaf people can read something that doesn't have a sign language translation.

"People can't understand that you can read one thing, understand one thing, and they're just going to avoid [buying cannabis] based on my findings," Cabral told High Times.

Tags : dispensarytrainingHightimesMedicalEndocannabinoid system
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