Deaf-Accessible Tax Services Expands Thanks to Advocacy by DEAF, Inc.’s Lori Siedman

For over 15 years, DEAF, Inc. has offered tax preparation, organizing ASL interpreters and volunteer tax professionals to help people understand their tax-filing responsibilities and file their returns. We partnered with the local Deaf and Hard of Hearing Task Force, led by the National Disability Institute and including the Boston Tax Help Coalition (BTHC) and other local partners, including AARP (American Association of Retired Persons), ASL interpreters, including some CDIs, help bridge communication gaps. Each year, Lori Siedman, Boston Regional Director of Independent Living Services at DEAF, Inc., works tirelessly to organize the tax prep program at DEAF, Inc.

Lori represents DEAF, Inc. at meetings with members of the Boston Mayor’s BTHC and others, increasing visibility and awareness of Deaf people, and our culture and language.

Recently, DEAF, Inc. and BTHC collaborated with Disability Rights Maine’s Meryl Troop, to plan and host a special training for ASL interpreters who are interested in interpreting for tax prep sessions. Over 20 certified interpreters (both Deaf and hearing) learned tax-related terminology, tax concepts, and more. By increasing the number of interpreters trained in tax-related concepts, more Deaf, DeafBlind, Hard of Hearing, and Late-Deafened people can benefit from accessible tax services. For the second year, Certified Deaf Interpreters (CDIs) played an important role in DEAF, Inc.’s Tax Season. Over half of the people who received tax preparation services through DEAF, Inc. benefited from having a CDI involved.

The success of the DEAF, Inc.’s Tax Season preparation services is shown by a steady increase in demand over the last few years. For many years, DEAF, Inc. could offer tax prep meetings only once a week for a month or so at DEAF, Inc. Now, the program schedules appointments 2-3 days a week at DEAF, Inc. and other locations around the greater Boston area, including Dorchester House in Dorchester, and Urban Edge, in Roxbury, to name just two. This year, nearly 90 Deaf, DeafBlind, Hard of Hearing, and Late-Deafened people received ASL-accessible tax services through the tax coalition.

Registration for free tax services begins in January/February and appointment are available on a first come, first serve basis. To be notified when open registration begins for the next tax season, sign up for our email list by contacting Lori Siedman at LSiedman@deafinconline.org.

Can you tell tax season is our favorite season? From L-R (back row): Lori Siedman, Joe Toledo, Sandra Bass, and Nkiki Akwunafor, all IL staff at DEAF, Inc. From L-R (front row): AARP volunteers Chris, Robert and George. Photo credit: Anonymous

At DEAF, Inc. a Deaf woman receives tax preparation help from AARP volunteer George. With a qualified sign language interpreter to facilitate communication, tax preparation is a breeze! Photo credit: Lori Siedman
DEAF, Inc. staff and BTHC members celebrate another successful Tax Day at Urban Edge in Roxbury. From L-R: Mimi Turchinetz, Assistant Deputy Director, Mayor’s Office of Financial Empowerment and Director of BTHC; Leticia Paterlini, Ambassador and BTHC Program Coordinator; Jessica Doonan, Chief of Staff, Mayor’s Commission for Persons with Disabilities; Lori Siedman, DEAF, Inc.'s Boston Regional Director of IL Services, and Nkiki Akunwafor, DEAF, Inc. IL Specialist. Photo credit: Katie Liesener
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