Reviewer Spotlight: Ariele Belo - Seattle, WA

Posted by: Staff Writer on July 3, 2014

Do you know the people who are plugging in reviews on deafREVIEW? Every quarter, we pick the brains of our most active reviewers. They are the words behind our deaf-friendly mission, the stars of our 1-5 star ratings, and the souls of this website.

Meet Ariele Belo, a Deaf advocate extraordinaire who calls Seattle home. As the Director of Case Management and Advocacy at the Hearing, Speech, and Deafness Center (HSDC), Ariele is always on the lookout for local #deaffriendly businesses for deaf gatherings 

As an alumna of HSDC’s Birth to 3 program, her fierce roots in the local Deaf Community recently came full circle: In March, she made history by writing our 1,000th review about Capitol Hill’s Cafe Presse. Coincidentally, she considers this French establishment her favorite #deaffriendly hangout spot.

So, what has changed over the years?

“(Seattle) has become more deaf-friendly,” the native summed up the city’s evolving deaf consciousness. Most of her 22 (and counting) reviews on this site are filled with detailed examples: She described getting a properly fitted hat for a loved one by VRI-and-email- friendly staffers at Goorin Bros, that she can find an ASL-fluent bartender at Queen City Grill, and the rep that suggested a hearing aid-friendly “Bern” snow helmet at Evo.

On requesting interpreters, and “paying it forward” for the next Deaf customer

Of course, not all of Ariele’s experiences are 5-star worthy. She was able to request an interpreter for the Triple Door, but struggled to get any email follow-up from the hostess about will-call.

The two lessons she’s learned over the years (and shares with others):

Firstly, “when a business won't provide an interpreter, they may not know their responsibility under ADA law until you educate them about it.  They will appreciate the information.”

Secondly, “when a business provides an interpreter for the first time but it didn't meet my expectation, I would thank them for providing them because it was their first experience. Then I would give them feedbacks so that the next deaf person will have better experience than me.”

On old fashioned adaptability

Though she’s a lover of Apple products (you can occasionally find her at the U-Village Apple’s accessibility workshops), orders her event tickets online, and has taught many an establishment to text her when a table is ready, Ariele stresses that advocacy is not strictly a tech-oriented concept.

She’s quick to grant deaf-friendly kudos for a business (like The College Inn Pub, and Brad’s Swingside Cafe) that patiently engages in good ol’ fashioned paper-and-pen banter.

Geek girl: On the evolution of adaptable tech

One of the things about being born and raised in a city famous for Microsoft, Amazon, and tech start-ups, is that you quickly learn which technology improves the life of Deaf individuals.

At Pagliaccis, Ariele used to order pizza through the TTY relay services for many years until transitioning to VRS. Not a problem, at this adaptable dough-slinging joint that quickly became accustomed to her new preferred technology. She’s also a huge fan of the new Husky stadium’s captioning system: “Thank you for allowing us to be part of the game!”

The future is ripe with deaf-friendly possibilities, she said, excitedly predicting more accessibility advances:

“I have seen a TV screen with a Starbucks barista at the drive-thru. That was amazing, so I hope to see more of that at other locations.  Technical improvements have dramatically improved over the years, so I am sure one day there will be virtual reality interpreters for short periods of interpreting at businesses."

On the Golden Rule of rewarding #deaffriendly businesses

Advocacy and good service is a two-way street, says Ariele, and that is one reason she writes reviews. 

Indeed, she rewards businesses for being accommodating: When Corina Bakery accepted her VRS call about gift certificates, she decided to walk there immediately to buy them.

“Successful businesses will know the importance of providing great customer service to everyone including deaf people so that deaf people will return,” she said.

Her three key principles of self-advocacy: “Be patient, show respect and be friendly to businesses in hopes that, vice versa, they will be patient, show respect and be friendly to me as we work together.”



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