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Yantern Offers Online Webinar for Aspiring Deaf/HoH Business Owners

Successful Deaf entrepreneurs, Melody and Russell Stein, have established Yantern to share the skills that have made them successful. In 2011, they opened Mozzeria, a popular pizza restaurant, in San Francisco. The restaurant has thrived and is in the process of becoming a franchise business.

Yantern offers a variety of approaches to help other entrepreneurs. It provides an online webinar to support deaf and hard of hearing to set up and strengthen their businesses, consulting services for start-ups and for enhancing existing businesses. You can also arrange for speaking engagements through Yantern. All webinar lessons are presented in American Sign Language (ASL).

Melody (left) and Russell (right) standing and smiling. Russell is wearing a sweatshirt with the Mozzeria logo.
Picture from
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Workplace and Client Accommodations for Deaf/Hard of Hearing

As a small business owner, working with a deaf, or a hard of hearing customer or employee, your technique and decision-making will determine a positive or negative result. You must determine what kinds of services are needed, contact an agency to provide the services and ensure the settings are arranged to allow for the best provision of these services. The article “How to Work With Deaf or Hard of Hearing Customers and Employees” provides guidance on what is needed for communication, how to hire an interpreter, appropriate behaviors when working with an interpreter and a deaf/hard of hearing person.

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Intuit and Aira Partnership

Through an innovative partnership, Intuit and Aira have been providing Small Business Owners and QuickBooks services for self-employed, small business owners, and independent contractors who are blind or have low vision, since October of 2018. This service works through a combination of trained agents and augmented reality to provide verbal descriptions and real-time access to ensure that users have the information that they need. For more information on how this works:

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Google Slides Captioning

Google Slides’ captioning provides real time captioning of presentations. It is less than 100% accurate, which means it should not be used for big events, workshops, orientation, and trainings because it does not provide “best practices” accessibility. It should only be used, if the deaf and/or hard of hearing colleagues have been asked, if they are okay with using it for a small meeting, stand up meetings, or 1:1 meeting. Furthermore, if the deaf and/or hard of hearing colleagues have previously agreed on using it, you cannot assume that is an ongoing consent. It may not have worked as well as expected, or there may be issues that make it a poor choice for a subsequent meeting or event, so you need to ask for approval for each future event.

For professional captioning, it is recommended using a professional captioner/stenographer.

Why is it not recommended to use Google Slides with CC for big or important events?

Google Slides with CC does not caption 100% accurately, which means you cannot expect deaf/hard of hearing employees to understand everything or to be able to follow the information being presented. Because it is less accurate than professional captioning, it does not meet “best practices” standards.

When using Google Slides, how do you turn on captioning?

Google Slides is open with the black circle on the top right. Inside of the black circle reads Present. Click Present.

Google Slides is now in presentation mode. On bottom left of the screen, there is a black circle. Inside of the black circle, it reads CC and under it reads Captions. Click CC Captions.

A zoom in picture of the black circle with CC Captions in it.

Does Google Slides with CC work when using BlueJeans for meetings?

Yes, it works when using BlueJeans for meetings. There are two different ways to use it, and sometimes one will work better than the other. The first way it can work is for the person who uses the laptop to connect the projector and to use Google Slides. It works efficiently, if screen sharing shows the Google Slides. However, if the presenter wants to be showing something else, there will be a split screen. Split screens can cause people to struggle, because it results in small CC, which is neither effective nor truly accessible.

The second way, which can circumvent the issue of having a split screen with tiny CC, is for the deaf/hard of hearing colleague to have the Google Slides on their laptop and be close to the presenter and to the conference phone/external microphone, so that it can pick up the auditory information from both sources.

Would Google Slides with CC be able to pick up spoken information from remote workers via BlueJeans?

Yes, if the laptop is close to phone conference/external microphone. The internal microphone (inside of the laptop) won’t help with the accuracy of the CC.

If a deaf/hard of hearing colleague is working from home, is it still feasible for them to use Google Slides with CC on their laptop?

Yes, it works well if the deaf/hard of hearing colleague uses a cell phone to join the BlueJeans meeting, puts it on speaker phone, and places it next to the laptop. Google Slides with CC should be able to follow the conversation.

Can I use Google Slides with CC to show an uncaptioned video?

No, Google Slides works best using an external microphone, not an internal one; but, again, it is possible that it will work if there is an external microphone that is close to laptop. Putting an uncaptioned video on Google Slides does not mean Google Slides with CC will work correctly while the video is playing. The quality of CC will be unreliable and sporadic. It is best to show only captioned videos, separate from Google Slides with CC.

Can I keep the transcript from Google Slides?

Unfortunately, Google Slides does not save the captioning, which means there are not transcripts.

Are there any tips/tricks that I should know about, when using Google Slides with CC?

  1. When using Google Slides with CC, do not close it until the meeting is finished. The CC should continue until the end of the meeting. It is not appropriate to only have it available for a presentation. The deaf/hard of hearing person should also be able to follow the questions and conversations that follow the presentation.
  2. Make sure to put any words/vocabulary on slides that Google Slides might be unfamiliar with, especially acronyms, industry terms, and unique names. Google Slides with CC will capture the words more accurately, if they are on the slide. Also, if you put “FY19” on the first slide, and you’re still on the first slide and you said “FY19”, the CC would be likely to get it right, but if you’re on the second slide and it doesn’t have “FY19” on it, the CC will not get it right.
  3. It is highly recommended recording all of the meeting using Google Slides with CC, because it can be helpful for deaf/hard of hearing colleagues to be able to look back and watch the video to see if they forgot or missed something from the meeting. It is difficult for deaf/hard of hearing colleagues to write notes during meetings, because they need to be able to concentrate on the presentation (using their eyes). Hearing people are able to look down and take notes while listening. People who rely on their eyes to follow communication do not have that ability. Their eyes can only be on one thing at a time. Recording the meeting will allow them to have “notes” from it.
  4. It’s very helpful if you say your name before you start speaking. Sometimes conversations have overlapping speakers, and it is a struggle for deaf/hard of hearing colleagues to follow and to know who’s talking.
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What’s the Difference Between VRS and VRI?

When interpreting services are needed to provide access for a deaf/hard of hearing colleague or client, it is important to know the options. Traditionally, interpreting services have been provided by having the interpreter(s) come to the meeting, interview, or conference location to provide services, and this is still common. Technology has, however, created an entirely new way in which to access interpreter services through video technology. By using a video connection from a laptop, desktop, tablet, or even a cell phone, interpreting services can be provided remotely. This has several different advantages, depending upon the type of service.

It is important to understand that the same issues that are involved in using an interpreter who is physically present at a meeting or an event apply to using a remote interpreting service. For example, the interpreters will not necessarily have specialized vocabulary which can create some confusion when they are interpreting.

The differences between Video Relay Service (VRS) and Video Remote Interpreting (VRI) are commonly misunderstood. The two services are very different in terms of what is allowed and what is not allowed and how the services should be used.

Is it free? Yes, the Federal Communications Commission pays for it. No, the business of organization using it is responsible for paying for the service.
What kind of equipment do we need to have to use these services? An employee would need to install the VRS company’s software to use the service on their laptop, computer, or tablet. It depends on which agency the organization is using. Some agencies prefer for employees to use a laptop and others prefer for them to use a tablet.
Can we use VRS in a team meeting? This is allowed if a deaf/hard of hearing person is working from home or is a remote employee. Using VRS is acceptable, only if the two parties are in different locations. Yes, VRI can be used in a team meeting. This works best if it’s a small team meeting, but not as well if more than three or four people are in the room.
Can it be used anytime? The service is available 24/7 in the United States and Canada. No, there needs to be a scheduled appointment for meetings.
Is there a minimum time for the service? No, if an interpreter needs to leave because of the break schedule, they’ll transfer the call to a different interpreter. Depends on which agency the organization is using. Some agencies charge for a minimum of 15 minutes, some 30 minutes, etc.
Does it work for a deaf/hard of hearing person to use VRS for BlueJeans meetings? Yes No.
Are there recommended companies to use for the service? Canada:
SRV Canada

United Kingdom:

United States:
Deaf Services Unlimited
Partners Interpreting
Does it work if a hearing person calls a deaf/hard of hearing person through the service? Yes, but be aware that while calling a deaf/hard of hearing person through VRS, sometimes it takes some time for VRS to find an interpreter. The call might not ring through right away, but might have a slight delay. Also, if someone uses BlueJeans to call someone else through VRS, it usually disconnects. For BlueJeans, it is better to have the deaf/hard of hearing person make the call. For this situation, there will be an appointment scheduled for the service, so this means the deaf person or the interpreter will call the other to get the meeting started.
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Small Business Accessibility at CSUN 2015

The CSUN conference is the largest technology and accessibility conference in the world. BizAbility was featured in the presentation: Small Business in a Box: Enabling Entrepreneurship with Accessible Tech by JJ Meddaugh and Ted Drake.

Business in a Box evaluates tools and services to make small business management easier for entrepreneurs with disabilities and recommends next steps toward attaining universal access.

Small Business in a Box: Enabling Entrepreneurship with Accessible Tech

This  presentation  was  developed  for  the  CSUN  2015  conference  by  JJ  Meddaugh  and  Ted  Drake.       For  more  information,  visit   Business  in  a  Box  evaluates  tools  and  services  to  make  small  business  management  easier  for  entrepreneurs  with  disabilities  and  recommends  next  steps  toward  attaining  universal  access.


  • J.J. Meddaugh, A T Guys, Blind Bargains – entrepreneur @atguys
  • Ted Drake, Intuit – small business software @ted_drake


Entrepreneurship provides employment opportunities for many individuals with a disability. Efficient management requires a set of tools that enable sales, business management, financial reporting, and education. This presentation seeks a solution to discovering these resources.


  • Not bound by location
  • Choose your technologies
  • Set your own hours

Problem for small businesses

  • What technologies are accessible
  • Lack of peers and mentors
  • Finding education resources
  • Unsure where to start

Small Business Accessibility Toolkit

BizAbility.Org is an online collection of software, applications, devices, and resources that provide an accessible experience for small business owners, entrepreneurs, and employees. This is to be a living document and depends on feedback from users. Toolkit includes basic information on a product and their accessibility functionality.

  • Inclusion

  • Provides a function necessary for establishing and running a small business
  • Factors for being considered accessible:
    • Product has been tested for accessibility
    • Endorsed by a user
    • Product has an accessibility team and making progress

While the items within the toolbox are affordable, and many are free, cost was not a determining factor. While researching products for this toolbox, surveys were sent to small businesses, product accessibility managers, forums, and social media for suggestions.


Mobile technology has become key to small business management. Mobile payment solutions enable low cost credit card processing. Invoicing, estimates, note taking, and account management can be handled on location. Many mobile applications are more accessible than their older desktop equivalents. There are tools and backend functionality that is not available on a mobile application.

Product Categories

BizAbility is broken into the key categories for business management.

Point of Sale

Point of Sale is where the consumer completes the process of purchasing goods and services. There are several mobile solutions for credit card processing. This also includes bar code scanners and devices that improve communication.


The Square Stand for iPad bypasses the headphone jack, which is a common accessibility problem. Square provides an accessible interface for consumers and business owners.


Wire Tap is a headphone splitter that separates the input an output. This means you can record via one port and listen from another port. Originally this was design ed for musicians, but it also works for credit card scanners and listening to a screen reader at the same time. Wire tap works with Square and reportedly with PayPal.

AfterShokz Bone Conducting Headphones

It’s difficult to listen to a screen reader while also having a conversation with a customer or paying attention to ambient sounds. Bone conducting headphones, such as AfterShokz, leave the ears exposed and send the sound waves through the skull.

Online Stores

Online businesses are great opportunities for individuals with limited mobility. Today, there are many platforms for starting an online business, the only limit is your time and imagination. uses WordPress with WP Accessibility and Woo Commerce. WordPress is an open source platform that is extremely flexible and offers many accessible templates and plugins. WP Accessibility by Joe Dolson fixes and improves the accessibility of WordPress Woo Commerce is an open source ecommerce solution. The default theme is accessible. Drupal is also a great content management system

Online Store Services

Many businesses tie into large e-commerce solutions for selling, receiving payment, and managing inventory. Etsy is an online market place for hand crafted and vintage items. Amazon allows companies to list and sell their items within their platforms. It also provides great affiliate opportunities for highlighting their merchandise and receiving a commission on sales. eBay and PayPal allow companies to sell online and collect payments.


Accounting includes much more than balancing a checkbook. It also includes projecting sales, tracking popular products, watching invoice due dates, scheduling payments, and organizing employees and their wages. Today’s accounting tools are also flexible and tie into third party Point of Sale, inventory, and payroll systems.

Intuit QuickBooks

QuickBooks is the industry standard for small business accounting. QuickBooks Desktop is the most accessible solution, when combined with scripting for JAWS, Window-Eyes, and NVDA. QuickBooks Online works seamlessly with mobile applications. Learn more about QuickBooks Accessibility

Online Banking

  • Chase
  • PNC
  • PayPal – payment

Marketing and Social Media

How do you acquire new customers and tell the world about your business? These marketing tools provide marketing advise, management, and social media presence.

Accessible Twitter Clients

Chicken Nugget and Easy Chirp are built to be accessible from the ground up. Each allows you to create tweets and view your Twitter stream. Twitter’s web site provides the most accessible option.

Email Mailing List

  • Sendy: self-hosted mailing list software. Works with Amazon’s Simple email service.
  • Mail Chimp is a cloud-based email distribution marketing tool
  • Demand Force, from Intuit, provides integrated marketing, emails, and appointment reminders for small businesses.

Education and Training

These online resources will provide the education and training needed to efficiently start and run a small business. Many of these resources are free and range from economics theory to the nuts and bolts of entrepreneurship. They provide transcripts and/or captioning. They may also provide downloadable course outlines, handouts, and supporting web sites. iTunes U and Khan Academy are free, while is a subscription-based business.

Payroll Tools

Payroll can quickly become a complicated process for companies. A robust accounting software will make it easy to track employee’s hours, wages, taxes, vacation time, and much more.

Intuit Payroll

Intuit Payroll is a subscription service that integrates with QuickBooks. It provides paycheck distribution, tax documentation, and employee management. The iOS applications are very accessible. The QuickBooks Desktop integration is also accessible.


Completing a purchase is only the first step for many businesses. These tools will help your business track inventory, package, and manage shipping costs.


Use the Dazzle Endicia software to print postage from a desktop interface. The Windows version has been tested and is mostly accessible for shipping needs. This also works well with the Dymo scale:


Future Steps

  • Identify funding and resources to ensure site is properly maintained and updated
  • Develop a best practices guide for companies who wish to implement accessibility in their business tools, or link to existing guides which serve this purpose
  • Explore training modules, classes, or other educational tools to enable business ownership and management by individuals with disabilities
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Small Business in a Box

Small business entrepreneurship has laid the foundation for economic growth within all sectors of the US Economy. New technology is making it easier than ever for a person to take their idea and build it into a successful business. This is especially important for the disability community, where underemployment and lack of growth opportunities leaves many with low-income employment and social support. According to the 2012 American Community Survey, 67% of working-age adults with a disability reported lack of employment.

Biz Ability consolidates the available, accessible technology that supports the various aspects of running a small business in many areas including customer management, social networking, employee payroll, point of sale and bookkeeping among others.  It also explores the growing presence of mobile and cloud-based applications for business management