Answering services often use customized software. A virtual receptionist "speaks" to callers in words and tones that are selected for the social/professional/business purpose of the call.Some answering services include receptionist services, and these services can be critical to people with disabilities.Inquiries can be made about the availability of assistive equipment, and the training of receptionists in the use of specific equipment.
Some companies charge a flat rate for services that include a toll-free number, software, and access to a phone receptionist. A separate set-up fee may also be charged.Fees for answering services often vary with the choice of software options.
Attention should be focused on communication issues for people with disability when choices are made between answering services. A person with disability can be the CEO of a major business, Chairperson of a department of medicine, or a customer who wants to inquire about the arrival of their flowers. Regardless of their role, people with disabilities----like all other people--- need effective equipment to communicate via telephone. Gallaudet University reports that there are more than six million Americans who are deaf. However, the availability of telecommunications relay equipment is not sufficient--- employees must be trained to effectively use this equipment.
Telephone receptionists should also be sensitized to the realities of disability. People who are blind report being asked for written information that they cannot read. People who have hearing impairments report that receptionists refuse to adjust their voice. Finally, the meaning of invisible disabilities needs to be clarified. People with learning disabilities, for example, report being treated dismissively. Disability awareness should be part of an the training program for an answering service.
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