How to Accommodate Callers With Disabilities


Kayla Matthews explains how your agents can accommodate different disabilities and provide great customer service to everyone. 

Helping those with hearing impairments

People who cannot hear well are at a disadvantage when calling into a help centre.

In order to make their lives easier, it behoves any company to offer the following:

  • TTY (Teletypewriter) and TDD (Telecommunication Device for the Deaf) services that will allow the hearing-impaired individual to type through the telephone and receive answers the same way.
  • Customer service help through online chat rooms.

Conversations can be entirely written, which takes the burden off the person with the hearing impairment. Please note that this necessitates that all call centre employees know how to communicate from a written perspective.

Not every person who calls with a hearing problem will be deaf. Some will simply need to work with a call centre representative who can speak slowly, clearly and loudly. Therefore, all employees of your company need to be prepared for this possibility.

Helping those with visual impairments

Visual impairment can range from total blindness to having trouble seeing certain colours or patterns. For instance, someone who is colourblind may have difficulty navigating your company’s web page.

To help someone with any condition related to limited vision, your call centre employees may need to:

  • Know how to explain your services or processes over the telephone. This means more than just reading off your website; they have to be able to thoroughly teach others who cannot read the words.
  • Input information on behalf of the person. If your website or call centre cannot allow people to “speak” their desired action, call centre workers may have to make their inputs for them.

It’s important to remember that those with visual impairment cannot necessarily be sent to a website or web page for information. Thus, the service provider assisting them must be fully versed in becoming the caller’s eyes.

Helping those with learning disabilities

The final type of disability that your call centre workers are likely to encounter is people with learning disabilities. These can range from problems in remembering certain actions to dyslexia.

To assist those with learning disabilities, your call centre should have:

  • People who are trained to explain answers in a wide variety of ways. For instance, someone who has trouble remembering may need to be prompted to write the answers down.
  • People who are accustomed to taking their time. Many call centre employees are taught to quickly solve problems. This may not be possible when helping those who have a learning disability.

The trick to helping this kind of customer lies in being able to efficiently diagnose that there is a barrier to overcome. Many persons afflicted with learning disabilities will not instantly tell the call centre employee of their disability; thus, he or she will have to be creative and make the diagnosis on his or her own.

Know the guidelines for your industry

Kayla Matthews

Kayla Matthews

One final word of advice when talking about disabilities is that it’s important to know the guidelines for your industry in terms of what you are legally expected to provide to help these customers.

Don’t overlook the importance of following these rules. They’re in place for a reason, and you cannot afford to violate them. It’s important to put standards in place to make assisting any person who contacts your team as easy as possible.

With thanks to Kayla Matthews, a content coordinator and technology blogger. You can read all of her latest articles by following her on Twitter.

Published On: 17th Sep 2014 - Last modified: 14th Nov 2018
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