The ever-growing map of deaf-friendly businesses just got bigger … again. Seattle-based deafREVIEW (http://deafreview.com/), a community-led search and review website to rate, review and find deaf-friendly businesses announced today the availability of deafREVIEW in Austin, Dallas, Houston of Texas, as well as Portland, Oregon.
It will be the third major launch since the startup's inception in May 2012. Spoiler: This will be deafREVIEW's last city-based launch before it opens nationwide in Spring 2014. Only 200 reviews shy of their 1,000-review goal, deafREVIEW's Web 2.0 platform shows no signs of slowing. A year and a half after launching in its flagship city of Seattle, it is now ready to serve large deaf populations within a century-mile radius of three new major Texas hubs: Austin, Dallas, and Houston.
Because of its close proximity to deafREVIEW's flagship city of Seattle, the city of Portland, OR is also joining the latest round of city launches.
As with its California and East Coast launches, deafREVIEW put these cities through an informal deaf-friendly checklist. Plentiful deaf schools, ample deaf and deaf-blind social services, a vibrant deaf and hard of hearing social scene are a few examples of what qualifies a city for admission into the review platform.
"This school has the best location of any deaf school in the country due to its prime location in downtown Austin," one recent Austin transplant wrote in a review about the Texas School of the Deaf. "The education there is in the top five in the country in my opinion, which is why we moved to Austin to allow one of our kids to attend this school."
Using up to five stars and 250 words, visitors and residents can now log in to deafREVIEW's proprietary online platform to digitally rate and review the deaf-friendliness of businesses they frequent. Four new city platforms have gone live today, showcasing business reviews including a bookstore, bank, amusement center, doctors office, the Austin Club of the Deaf, and various restaurants and coffee houses.
Debuting in Seattle approximately one year ago, deafREVIEW also launched in California (San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego) last October. It has built a solid West Coast presence as well as 5K unique monthly website visitors and nearly 6,000 Facebook fans nationally. A recent Deaf Awareness Week #deaffriendly viral campaign garnered over 115K Facebook views, 2,000 shares, and helped cement the brand's national footprint via the sales of nearly 100 #deaffriendly t-shirts and stickers sold via e-commerce site Shopify.
deafREVIEW analyzed factors like reputable deaf schools, ample deaf and deaf-blind social services, and a thriving Deaf cultural scene. A local Deaf reviewer has already logged into his deafREVIEW account to write about Wazoo's, an amusement center in a prime deaf-friendly location:
"This place is right next to the Austin Club of the Deaf so they are familiar with the deaf community. They even have a working relationship where members of the Austin Club of Deaf get a discounted admission. This is a popular spot for deaf families to meet to allow their kids jump in their various bouncy stations."
With a large concentration of deaf/hh people, Texas is a natural aggregate of potential reviewers with a hunger for deaf-friendly services. Deaf411, Inc. reports that the University of Texas' football stadium shows captions on its plasma jumbotron TV, and that the Austin Visitor Center has ASL versions of the GPS Ranger for deaf tourists.
Texas' steadfast economy also makes it an attractive review platform. This year, the U.S. Bureau of Statistics listed Houston as the No. 1 city for job creation. Last year, Forbes ranked Houston as #1 for paycheck worth. With more disposable income in their pocketbooks, deaf and hard of hearing residents may have access to a wider array of businesses. The question is, just how deaf-friendly are these businesses? What can be done to continue innovating their technologies or customer services to make life easier for deaf consumers in Texas, Oregon, and all other states?
But deafREVIEW isn't just for consumers: Business owners can enjoy access to many free educational resources (such as the ASL Manual Alphabet, and information about accessibility tax credits and deductions). To learn more, check out Recent Reviews and deafREVIEW News (http://deafreview.com/deafreview-news/) for weekly content about Deaf Culture topics.
deafREVIEW is a web site that connects deaf, deaf-blind and hard of hearing people to deaf-friendly businesses. Taking root in Seattle, it is new face of crowd sourcing: Bringing awareness to deaf-friendly businesses, and corrective feedback to “deaf-challenged” businesses. Reviewers fit a number of categories: deaf, deaf-blind, hard of hearing, friends/family of the deaf and those with a special interest in creating a deaf-friendly world. Shared insight and corrective feedback on a much-needed public platform is what slowly improves the consumer experience as well as businesses’ customer service. We invite you to write consumer reviews, so that we can increase deaf-friendliness in millions of businesses across the nation. For more information, please visit http://www.deafreview.com or send an email to press(at)deafreview(dot)com