Author Archives: Valerie Stafford-Mallis

ACS Is Headed to USBLN

Welcome back after the Labor Day holiday weekend!  We hope you had a great Labor Day and are ready to dive back into an exciting work week.  We at Alternative Communication Services (ACS) LLC are very excited to be back at work.  Actually, we never really leave work at ACS.  Someone is always monitoring the email address and the 1-800-335-0911 toll free number.  The need for equal and effective communication access never sleeps!

So Excited to Attend USBLN


Are you planning on attending the 2013 United States Business Leadership Network’s (USBLN) Annual Conference September 30th – October 3rd in Los Angeles, CA?  We are!  ACS is a proud member of USBLN and will have an exhibit at USBLN.  Do let me know if you will be attending and I will look for you.

At USBLN, there will be exciting presentations on disability inclusive diversity in the workplace, in the supply chain, and in the marketplace.  Networking opportunities will abound.  For more information on attending the conference, please click on .

Exciting Offer for First-time ACS Clients


I will have a special offer for you at the ACS Exhibit.  If you become a new client of ACS after speaking with me at our exhibit, we will offer you 20 hours of speech-to-text services for the price of 10!  That is a 50% discount!  You can send me an email at and I will add you to my list of people to connect with.

Tips for Best Ways to Get the Most From Attending USBLN

(1) Don’t forget to visit the ACS Exhibit.

(2) Be sure to link to the USBLN Official Conference Hotel web site for ideas for places to go and things to see while you are in Los Angeles. .


(3) Go to as many mixers, tweet-ups, hospitality suites, and business-after-hours events as you can.

(4) Chat with people while standing in line at Starbucks and meal functions.  Make it a point to meet at least three new people at every function.

(5) Take LOTS of business cards.  If you are job hunting, there is still time to get some business cards printed inexpensively at   Stay tuned to this blog for more exciting USBLN information as time gets closer.

Looking for Information on Hearing Loss Accommodations in the Workplace


In the meantime, here is an exciting website to checkout if you are seeking accommodations in the workplace or if you are attempting to provide accommodations in the workplace: .  The Job Accommodation Network has a searchable database with information on just about any workplace disability accommodation topic you might have.  I have used their hearing loss resources on more than one occasion and the information has always been spot-on.  Please see . I particularly like the Accommodation and Compliance Series: Employees Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing and the Effective Accommodation Practices Series: Hearing Loss.   Please email me if you have any questions: .

Are You Looking Forward to Back to School?


Back-to-school is an exciting time of year for most children.  But not for all, especially not for the child who is having trouble hearing.  Is your child, or your student,  not hearing well enough in the classroom to perform up to his or her full potential?

There is a world of assistive services and technology that can make the spoken word accessible to the student who is D/deaf, hard of hearing, or deaf-blind. Things such as personal FM systems, CART or text-interpreting, and sign language interpreting are more readily available now than ever before. The National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities (NICHCY) offers brief but detailed fact sheets on Deafness and Hearing Loss. Click here to download.

Would you like to learn more about how assistive listening devices, speech-to-text transcription, and/or sign language interpreting services might benefit your child or your student? Click here to download this free paper  Accommodating Students with Hearing Loss from the Job Accommodation Network.  

Are you confused about how to go about getting your child or your student the help they need? If they attend public school, their accommodations must be specified in their Individualized Education Plan (IEP).  Many parents and teachers find the process overwhelming and confusing.  The National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities has excellent materials on the IEP process and the components of an IEP. Click here  to read it. You can also attend a free webinar  Demystifying Individualized Education Plans (IEP): An Introduction to the Individuals with Disabilities Edcation Act & IEPs. Click here to register.  But hurry! The webinar takes place Tuesday, September 17th. It will be captioned, by the way.

As students who are deaf or hard of hearing head off to school, some parents and teachers may wonder if CART (Communication Access Realtime Translation) would help. For people whose first language is ASL, a sign language interpreter may be best.  For people who read English, especially for people with certain learning disabilities and people for whom English is a second language, CART may be right.  CART is an approved accommodation under the ADA as long as it facitlitates effective communication for the person using it.  Would you like to learn more about verbatim speech-to-text transcription (also known as CART, Communication Access Realtime Translation) in the classroom?  Click here for an excellent paper from the National Court Reporter’s Association about  CART in the Classroom. Other students benefit from a meaning-for-meaning text interpretation of what is said as opposed to a word-for-word transcript. Click here for more information on Text Interpreting.

Contact us today
and let us help you support students who are deaf and hard of hearing, their families, and their schools.

Making the Spoken Word Accessible to Students Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing


A new school year is getting ready to begin.  If not  being able to hear everything that gets said in the classroom, or on the webinar, is impacting academic achievement, we can help.  Imagine being able to read what is being said, even when spoken at speeds of 225 words per minute and above, on a computer screen in real time. Now THAT is equal access!

Alternative Communication Services (ACS) has been transcribing the spoken word into English text (and other languages) for hundreds of students in school districts, post-secondary educational institutions, and graduate schools since 2007.  We specialize in remote voice-to-text (either word-for-word or meaning-for-meaning), where it does not matter where the student or the service provider is.  We can also bring the service provider onsite.  We work with the student, the teacher, the student disability services coordinator, and the school’s IT accounting departments to make the process as seamless as it can be.

One of the characteristics that sets ACS apart from our competition is that we do not tell you what you need. We listen to you. Although we have vast experience doing voice-to-text services, we have found the most effective service happens when we listen to you and provide a solution that best meets your needs. That is the ACS Alternative.

To learn more, please visit our website or email me at  You are only an email away from accessing the spoken word.

Winter the Dolphin Inspires Persons With Disabilities

Here's Winter the Dolphin_0003

During a 30th wedding anniversary trip, my husband and I visited the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, home of Winter, the dolphin featured in the hit move The Dolphin’s Tale.   That’s us in the picture holding one of Winter’s prostheses.  I have visited Winter three times in 12 months.  As a late-deafened person who uses cochlear implants (considered prosthetic devices), I find her so inspiring.  I want to share her story with you.

Winter was just a baby when she suffered a traumatic injury which caused her to lose her tail.  Without a tale, Winter would suffer cumulative spinal cord damage that would eventually kill her.   To keep that from happening, Dan Strzempka, of Bradenton’s (my home town) Hanger Prosthetics & Orthotics, developed the first dolphin prosthetic tale ever for Winter.   Her survival of the traumatic tail loss and her acceptance of the prosthetic were not guaranteed.  But Winter not only survived…she thrived!  Her pluck and determination in the face of a very long road to recovery was nothing short of miraculous.  Because Winter refused to give up on herself, she touched many lives along the way. People with disabilities come from all over to see her and to revel in the hope and inspiration her story exemplifies.  She inspires and encourages me.

You can see Winter at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium or by visiting the Aquarium’s web cam

The sequel movie Dolphin Tale 2 has just been green lighted with principal photography to begin this October.  I will watch it.  Many times.

Has anybody else been moved by Winter’s story?

Governor’s Hurricane Conference Week 7/16

GHClogo2We are in the heart of the Atlantic hurricane season—a time when all of us should be considering what to do BEFORE disaster happens.  Toward that goal, we wanted to share with you a recent presentation from the Governor’s Hurricane Conference in Ft. Lauderdale, FL.  The presentation, “Real World Planning for Persons with Access & Functional Needs…Before the Official Disaster Declaration” gives great insight into access and functional needs of individuals who may be in need of assistance.  Our own Valerie Stafford-Mallis was part of this great group presentation and can answer any questions you may have.

Click here to download: