What to do if a Deaf/hard-of-hearing person comes to your meeting

What is ASL & why is it necessary in meetings?

ASL is the acronym for American Sign Language. An ASL-interpreted meeting or A.A. workshop makes it possible for Deaf alcoholics to share their message of experience, strength and hope with you. With ASL interpretation, you will be able to carry the message to Deaf alcoholics. Deaf alcoholics do not have access to daily meetings, which has gotten countless of hearing alcoholics sober.

  • Remember that Deaf/hard-­of‐hearing alcoholics are like any other alcoholic – they just have a different way of communicating. Help them to feel welcome by including them.
  • Communicate by speaking clearly (some Deaf/hard-­of-hearing people can read lips), using your smartphone to text them, or using pen and paper.

Let the Deaf/hard-­of-­hearing person know there are ASL-interpreted meetings and A.A. materials available. Offer them a newcomer packet if your group has them. In addition, ask if they would like to have a Deaf person in recovery contact them. Give them the contact information for the Accessibility Committee at Greater Seattle Intergroup, (206) 587-­2838, accessibility@seattleaa.org.

Collect email addresses and phone numbers (for texting) from your home group members and see if one member would be willing to be the main contact person between your group and the Deaf/hard-­of-­hearing person.

Have the main contact person visit the Greater Seattle Intergroup website (www.seattleaa.org) for a list of ASL-interpreted meetings in the Seattle area, the Area 72 website for Western Washington-area ASL-­interpreted meetings (www.area72aa.org), and the GSO website (aa.org) for literature and ASL-­interpreted materials. Try to establish whether the Deaf/hard-­of-­hearing person would like to continue attending your meeting. If so, the Accessibility Committee can send a couple of members to your group’s business meeting to bring you more information and to answer questions. If your group is interested, they can help you set up an ASL-interpreted meeting.

How does a meeting schedule an interpreter?

There’s a standing position within the committee to coordinate assistance. For more information, please contact accessibility@seattleaa.org.

Seattle Intergroup schedules only professional, certified interpreters. As professionals, they adhere to a code of ethics and confidentiality; so all alcoholics remain anonymous at ASL-interpreted A.A. meetings.

How can I help?

Join our committee! We meet the first Wednesday of every month at 6 p.m. at the Seattle Intergroup office. To donate to the ASL Fund, A.A. groups or individuals members of A.A. can contribute by sending a check to:

Greater Seattle Intergroup, 5507 6th Ave S, Seattle, WA 98108

(Please write “Accessibility” on the memo line of check.) ASL Fund contributions are used to help fund interpreters at A.A. meetings and business meetings.

What is the Greater Seattle Intergroup Accessibility Committee and what do they do?

The Accessibility Committee at Greater Seattle Intergroup works to provide aid and resources for the fellowship to overcome obstacles limiting access to Alcoholics Anonymous in our area. Accessibility is about ensuring equal access to everyone.

Download the What to do brochure to share with your homegroup. Make sure to click ‘2 Sided’ in the print box.