Business and Unemployment Resources for COVID-19 Response

glass door with sign in English and braille that reads "unemployment insurance claims office"

Updated March 23, 2020 – 


In response to the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19), many colleges, schools, and businesses are rushing to move their courses and meetings online. As a result, they have canceled most contracts and requests for real-time transcription services for the rest of the Winter/Spring 2020 semester (and possibly longer).

Does this mean that meetings and classes are no longer taking place in real time?

No, but there are far fewer real-time classes and meetings than before.

Here are the trends we have observed:

  • Many classes and meetings are shifting to real-time videoconferencing platforms like Zoom, Blackboard Collaborate, Adobe Connect, etc.  However, schools and businesses have fallen behind in making these “live” online meetings accessible to deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals.  Unfortunately, many individuals who need transcription or interpreting services are simply being left out of the conversation.
  • Some classes have transitioned from “live” instruction to asynchronous teaching methods, such as text-based discussion forums, independent or small group assignments, reading assignments, etc.  This has resulted in a significant reduction in the demand for real-time services.
  • Some lectures are now being pre-recorded for students to watch at their own pace.  Organizations like the National Deaf Center are advocating for students and reminding schools that recorded media needs to be captioned in order to be truly accessible.  We anticipate that this could result in an increase in the demand for post-production services.

What does this mean for TypeWell service providers?

Most, if not all, outsourced TypeWell services are provided by small businesses or freelancers (sole proprietors who work as independent contractors). These businesses — and the transcribers who work for them — are experiencing a drastic, sudden, and unexpected loss of income with little or no “safety net.”

Staff transcribers (i.e., those who are classified as employees rather than contractors) may be somewhat less vulnerable than freelancers if they qualify for unemployment benefits.

Are there assistance programs for small businesses and/or unemployment benefits for transcribers?

Yes. Eligibility for such programs and benefits will vary by state.  Below are some resources to help transcribers, small businesses, and employers navigate this difficult time.

U.S. Individuals & Employers:

U.S. Small Businesses:

U.S. Mortgage Assistance:

Canadian Individuals & Employers:

Canadian Small Businesses:

Canadian Mortgage Assistance:

Ideas and comments submitted by members of our profession:

“Another option: Try offering service to local boards and organizations now meeting online. Doesn’t have to be for Deaf/HOH only. Can make the transition to meetings easier for all participants.” — Darla Sautter

What’s your experience so far?

Chat with us online or via social media, email us at support [at], or call OR text (SMS) at (844) 897-3935.


See also:


Photo credit: by Bytemark on Flickr