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Why I started Deaf Friendly Biz

I started Deaf Friendly Biz because I believe in the wisdom of the old adage “Do what you love and never work another day.” Growing up as a CODA (Children of Deaf Adults) I was present for countless business transactions between my parents and every type of business that comes with day-to-day life. This was normal life for me and I did not feel a desire to change anything. It was just my family, simple as that. My parents did not depend on me to interpret for them. However, often businesses would look to me to translate for them and at times, I did. Growing up as a CODA did present challenges but let's be real, there are challenges within every family! And challenges are opportunities to grow. I also had a ton of fun growing up as a CODA. My friends adored my parents and loved learning sign language from them. As I grew older, and started working as a Placement Specialist I became increasingly aware of the dynamics between being a deaf or hard of hearing consumer and a business that is struggling to communicate with their customer. As a Placement Specialist part of my job is to build the foundation for effective communication between the client and the employer. Through doing this work I began to realize that there is often the misperception that businesses are not motivated to improve communication with their deaf and hard of hearing customers. What I was experiencing is that many were indeed motivated, but often unsure about how to approach it. Each business is unique, which means there is not a one-size-fits-all approach to becoming a “deaf-friendly” business. It is also important to acknowledge that each business has its own strengths and capacities. My goal is to assist businesses in creating a manageable, effective plan that works for their business and then to connect them to people who would like to utilize their service/products. It’s marketing, but with social change at its core. DFB is a new concept and I felt that Faribault was the right place to launch this business given that it is home to Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf (MSAD.) I would like to express my gratitude to my family and friends, Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation, Northfield Enterprise Center and the Faribault Chamber of Commerce for their support of Deaf Friendly Biz. Deaf Friendly Biz has been enthusiastically received and that tells me it is the right time to take this next step towards progress.

Jamie Duncan
651-808-2340 (Voice) or  507-399-0010  (Video Phone)