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Serving The Needs of People Living With Hearing Loss.


Founder, Tess Crowder, shares her heart.  View our video:


"I Hear Deaf People"

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In 2007, I had recently been diagnosed with Neurofibromatosis Type 2 "NF2."  Because of this, my hearing had been slowly declining for years. I was told by my Audiologist to start learning sign language before I totally lost my hearing.


I met Tess Crowder at an ALDA support group meeting where she was providing CART services via CAI.  Never seeing CART before, I was blown away.  I’ve since learned Tess has provided CART for several different deaf groups or functions for over 20 years.  (I can only imagine the look on peoples faces 20 years ago when a 10 year old little girl showed up to CART for them.)


Make no mistake , hearing loss is a game changer. You go through the same emotions as the loss of a family member or close friend.  But after your time of grieving you must pick up and move on.  If you don’t, life moves on without you.


Tess Crowder and CAI are results of God-answered prayer from not only the local area but from all over the country. It’s not unusual to see her anywhere in the country providing CART service at any national medical event.  Her tireless work within the deaf community is second to none.


 Tess has a special place in not only my heart but in the hearts of any person or family member with hearing loss. She and CAI are an Angel of Communication for our deaf community.  -- Tim Kimball, CART consumer


Communication Access, Inc., will provide services and/or funding for the following non-profit organizations that serve people with hearing loss:

  • Advocates for Better Hearing

  • Advocure NF2, Inc.

  • American Deafness and Rehabilitation Association

  • Association of Late-Deafened Adults (Local & National)

  • Blossom School for the Deaf

  • Children’s Tumor Foundation

  • Community Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing of Manatee and Sarasota County

  • Deaf and Hearing Connection of Tampa Bay

  • DeafSun – Center for Victims of Domestic Violence

  • Family Center on Deafness

  • Florida Association of the Deaf

  • Hearing Loss Association of America (Local, State, & National)

  • Hillsborough County Alliance for Citizens with Disabilities

  • Moffitt Cancer Center

  • National Association of the Deaf

  • Sharing and Caring – Center for Independent Living

  • Southeast Regional Institute on Deafness

  • Self-Reliance, Inc., Center for Independent Living

“The first time I lost my hearing, I felt like it was the end of the world for me. I lost my job, lost my friends, and lost contact with my family. Then I met Lois from DHC (Deaf and Hearing Connection) and she has helped me a lot. She meets with me and we talked with Tess Crowder for the CART.  Without Tess, CAI and CART, I can’t even think how Lois and I could have managed talking to each other, explaining to her how I feel and her trying to help me sort out my new life of being deaf.”
Tessie Cruz
Late Deafened Consumer


“A small group of us had a vision for starting a Hearing Loss Association of America Chapter in Sun City Center, Florida.  Our biggest hurdle was figuring out how to caption the meetings since we had no money.  But we knew there is no point in getting persons with hearing loss together unless they can understand what is being said – and no matter how good the loud speaker system is – it is never adequate for those with severe/profound hearing loss – the ones who would need our group the most. I sent out e-mails to a list of captioners asking for cost estimates.  The costs came back – $300 to $350 plus transportation costs for each meeting. Imagine my surprise when Tess Crowder answered my e-mail saying she would love to caption our meetings and had just set up a foundation, Communication Access, Inc. to provide pro bono captioning for non-profit hearing loss groups.  I couldn’t believe it!  I e-mailed back to confirm, “Did you mean ‘pro bono’ as in free?”  Tess answered right back – “Yes, isn’t that cool!”  From that point on – we knew we could do it.  We had our first meeting in October 2007. Tess has continued to provide our Sun City Center HLA Chapter with dependable, professional captioning service – with a smile!”
Shirley Nauman
Vice President/Publicity HLA
Sun City Center Chapter

“Tess has been doing CART for the HLAA/Clearwater group for two years. Without Tess, I’m sure our group would have disbanded.  We all wear hearing aids and one member is deaf.  Tess is fast, keeping up with the dialog that is taking place.  She has so much knowledge regarding hearing loss and deafness.  I find I turn to her often during the meetings for answers.  CART is vital to so many at meetings, in churches, and at general functions.  When asked, Tess is always there to help.  She finds time to sign at her church and CARTs for many other HLAA groups.  Way to go Tess.”
Barbara Emmons
HLA Clearwater Chapter

“Lois, our behavioral therapist, is crucial to this effort. Lois shares a common language and bond so she is easy to talk to.  She has a wonderful ability to connect with our students, to help them better understand themselves and their relationships and to communicate better with their families and others.”

Blossom Montessori School for the Deaf

Director, Julie Rutenberg

“Over the past several years, you have provided tremendous support, not only for the gala, but for the agency….and we greatly appreciate you!  We look forward to every time we have the opportunity to see you and to work with you.  Thank you very much.” Holliday Lisowski & Julie Church -- Deaf and Hearing Connection of Tampa Bay


Services We Provide


Communication Access services will include:

  • Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) services

  • Accessible rehabilitation and mental health counseling for individual and group sessions

  • Speechreading classes and sign language classes

  • Providing psychological and technological education of hearing loss issues through workshops

  • Seminars and presentations

  • Assisting in the funding of other non-profit organizations that focus on hearing loss issues

  • Advocating for accessible communication access

Promoting awareness and education of hearing loss issues in our society


CART Services

Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) is a word-for-word speech-to-text interpreting service for people who need communication access. A Certified CART Provider provides instant translation on a computer monitor or other display utilizing a computer, a stenograph machine, and special translation software to provide this service. CART services are provided for the benefit of an individual consumer or larger group of consumers in a number of settings.

CAI provides CART services for non-profit organizations in the Tampa Bay area and beyond. Support groups, such as Hearing Loss Association of America chapters and Association of Late Deafened Adults (ALDA), require CART services in order to facilitate communication and to provide communication access during their meetings.

We also provide CART services for speechreading classes, rehabilitation counseling, mental health counseling, meetings, workshops, seminars, conventions, and fundraising events to assist other non-profit organizations.


Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling

CAI will provide rehabilitation and mental health individual and group counseling for people with hearing loss. Our Licensed Mental Health and Rehabilitation Counselors, Lois Maroney and Terri Pendleton, are specially trained counselors who have years of experience in counseling people with all types of hearing loss and are fluent in sign language. Lois Maroney, also a Late Deafened Adult, has years of experience with hearing loss and can share her successful coping skills with others.

In addition to the Culturally Deaf population (those born Deaf and have acquired sign language skills), there are many people who lose their hearing later in life.  Without direction, guidance, support or services to assist them in adjusting to their new disability, life becomes unrecognizable.  The physical and emotional aspects of losing your hearing can become devastating personally, professionally, and financially, especially when coupled with other mental and physical issues.

To call attention to the importance of the need for counselors who are educated in hearing loss issues, the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) published a position statement with regard to “Mental Health Services for People who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing.”

“The purpose of this position statement is to acknowledge and emphasize the importance and need for direct communication, sensitivity to cultural affiliation, and sensitivity to the psychosocial impact of hearing loss in the delivery of mental health, mental retardation, and substance abuse services to people who are deaf, hard of hearing, late deafened, and deaf-blind in every state throughout the country.”

“The NAD recommends that individuals with hearing loss be referred to specially trained providers whenever and wherever possible….”

To read the entire policy statement, please visit



CAI will provide classes to assist people with hearing loss, such as speechreading classes, sign language classes, hearing loss strategies classes, etc. We will also conduct seminars and workshops at hearing loss conventions and other venues to educate consumers on issues related to hearing loss.



CAI will advocate on behalf of people with hearing loss to find solutions to communication barriers and ensure communication access in various environments in our society.

“Tess Crowder, RPR, CRR, CCP, CBC, is a certified CART provider who has my complete endorsement. Her goals and priorities are in tune with the communication needs of people with hearing loss in many environments where equal communication access is needed. As a certified CART provider, Tess is eminently skilled in using state of the art techniques and computer software to provide excellent speech-to-text translation in a large variety of CART environments such as meetings (large or small), conferences, presentations, courtrooms, and so on. Along with others who have various degrees of hearing loss, I have personally benefited from CART provided by Tess at Hearing Loss Association of Sun City Center (HLA-SCC) and Hearing Loss Association of Florida (HLA-FL) meetings. In closing, I would like to join the ranks of others in saying, “Thank you, Tess, for all that you do so well for people with hearing loss.”
Richard Herring
First Vice President of Public Relations for the HLA-SCC chapter
Member of the state level Board of Trustees
and also serves as Chair of the Nominating Committee for the state-wide organization – HLA-FL

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