Friday, September 09, 2005

Salon makes hearing-impaired clients comfortable

Can we find at least one place here in NYC where we're comfortable? I know of one great place in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn where deaf clients are very comfortable and the owner is very easy to communicate with. He has deaf relatives. So, I've been in paradise since I found him. I'd love to find a hearing one in Manhattan tho.


From the newsroom of The Republic, Phoenix, Arizona, Thursday, September 8, 2005 .....

Hair stylist listens to hearing impaired

Salon makes hearing-impaired clients comfortable

Kathie Price
Special for The Republic

Other than the snip of scissors or the running of water, it's pretty quiet in Nancy Tayler's hair salon.

But thanks to word of hand, the one-chair, one-sink salon keeps the owner and stylist quite busy.

Tayler, who said she has been a hair stylist for 37 years, opened Nancy's Hair De-SIGN a year ago in Ahwatukee to serve the deaf and hearing-impaired community. She uses American Sign Language, has a TTY (for "talking" via text) and a wireless text pager to connect with her clients.

Clients also feel at home in a cozy spot where a red clock uses hand signals for numbers, hand-shaped chimes spell out "I love you" and other artwork "speaks" using sign language.

Tayler, who is not deaf or hearing impaired, learned to sign from neighbors in New Jersey.

One of Tayler's deaf clients, Marlene Orlando, has naturally wavy hair and wears it short. In the past, she needed her husband, Pat, who is hearing impaired, to try telling a stylist what his wife wanted.

Usually, she left unhappy.

"They always misunderstood her when she'd go alone," said Pat Orlando. "When she walked out, it was just not what she had in mind."

Now the Orlandos come to Tayler's salon for the cuts and styles they want, along with enjoyable conversation through signing.

Throughout her career, Tayler said she has seen deaf clients ignored, rushed or misunderstood by insensitive and uncomfortable salon employees.

"I know there is ignorance, and I was tired of the discrimination," she said. "Deaf people are just as entitled to a good haircut as anyone else. They should feel comfortable and not have to write everything down."

The final straw came after 15 years at a salon. Tayler was told to stop using American Sign with her deaf clients.

"Then the manager deducted a half hour from my time clock each time I had a deaf client," Tayler said. "I saw employees hang up on the hearing impaired and people run in the back when a deaf person came in. Stylists would stop and stare when a deaf person signed or talked."

Tayler quit that job and took up a cause.

Tayler, a Tempe resident, said she has reached into the local deaf community through events.

She set up a booth at the Deaf Nation convention in Phoenix to introduce hair styling with signing to the community.

She did a demonstration for the Phoenix Deaf Women's Association in Phoenix, signing about summer hair care.

Many deaf clients never receive important information from their hair salon, she said. "I had one woman who was about to leave for Amsterdam and came for a perm," Tayler said. "When I found out she had colored her hair that morning, I felt bad, but I told her you should wait at least seven days between chemicals. No one had ever educated her because she couldn't hear."

Tayler is able to explain how to use the products she sells, to ask a client if they want her to cut it shorter or find out what highlight shade they want.

"A miscommunication can make or break a hairstyle," Tayler said.

Nancy Li became a client of Tayler's this year after a friend told her about the salon.

Li, through the use of TTY, said,"Nancy's hair salon is a great place to go to. I'm satisfied with her service and professionalism."

"I'm far from an interpreter," Tayler said. "I'm still learning new words, mostly from my clients. When I moved to Arizona I found out that some East Coast words are different from West Coast words."

Tayler's clientele includes people who are completely deaf, use a hearing aid but cannot hear if it is removed, read lips or do not read lips and some speak well enough to be understood.

Nancy's Hair De-SIGN, 36 E. Chandler Blvd., No. 135, offers usual salon services including cuts, perms, color and highlights. Tayler is offering a haircut special for $10 this month.

Copyright © 2005, The Republic. All rights reserved.