Accessibility and compliance analysis
September 27, 2011
Personality Matters, Inc. (PMI) was sub-contracted to support internal assessment, environmental scan, and target audience survey of IRS. PMI provided insights into Deaf/Hard of Hearing (DHOH) experience to ensure that DHOH users have reasonable and preferable accommodations to gain access to the IRS.
The PMI Team provided recommendations which served as a platform for continued internal dialogue for ongoing collaborative and actionable communications between W&I and DHOH taxpayers. Some of the primary recommendations that were provided were:
- Deaf individuals and hard of hearing individuals have distinct communication needs and what works for one group may not work for the other. The IRS should continue to provide multiple access points via quality TTY/TTD, VRS, CapTel, IPR, and Voice Carry Over technologies.
- The IRS should provide ongoing sensitivity/awareness training for CSRs. Such training should include cultural understanding of the DHOH community.
- The IRS should consider having an ASL interpreter/CSR to work directly with DHOH taxpayers’ video-to-video with a pre-arranged meeting schedule allowing the taxpayer to schedule an appointment during tax season.
- Since Public and private organizations and DHOH consumer groups increasingly use social media (i.e., Facebook, Twitter) and e-newsletters to communicate and advertise to DHOH communities, the IRS should consider leveraging social media platforms to provide preventative information.
- Deaf taxpayers prefer to communicate with deaf IRS employees. IRS Executives should consider using deaf employees as frontline CSRs for deaf taxpayers that use sign language as their primary means of communication.
- Improving the current IRS Website was also a recommendation uncovered from the survey. Survey participants indicated that the IRS should enhance clarity and usability of the Website, and consider updating user interface to ease site navigation