May 3, 2021

Member Spotlight | Beth Wagmeister of the Wag Group


Business: Helping organizations become more accessible, inclusive, and ADA compliant

Launched: 2016

HQ: West Palm Beach

LinkedIn Profile: Beth Wagmeister

West Palm Beach-based Beth Wagmeister of the Wag Group is on a mission to make our community more inclusive and accessible. 

An American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter by trade, Wagmeister is an advocate for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. Her advocacy work includes helping businesses strategize on how they can be as inclusive as possible. Wagmeister also helps organizations become Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant, and makes them aware of related tax benefits.

Top of mind for Wagmeister is increasing the accessibility of events. “My mission is that anytime someone has a public event, to make it inclusive for everyone to participate and join in,” Wagmeister told South Florida Tech Hub. “People who are deaf or hard of hearing should be able to participate,” she continued, adding that events coordinators should factor in the price of hiring a captioner or interpreter when planning an event.

Wagmeister expressed positivity about the South Florida tech community, calling its approach to inclusivity “the most receptive and innovative of any industry that I’ve come across.” Despite seeing some push back from organizations with limited resources, such as not-for-profits, Wagmeister thinks that tech firms increasingly prioritize funds for interpreters.

The pandemic’s push towards digital-first events has been a positive for the deaf and hard of hearing community, according to Wagmeister. “Since events are now virtual, we can have interpreters from anywhere.”

She said that the main issue with signing tech events is that interpreters “have to adapt” because “many don’t know the industry-specific vocabulary.”

Wagmeister herself had to adapt to this new landscape when she started working with local organizations like software development training school Boca Code. For example, she explained that the sign for “server” (the computer hardware) is different from the more common use of “server” (waiter in a restaurant).

At the Wag Group, Wagmeister and team provide services that go beyond signing events. She works with organizations before events to help employees learn how to most effectively engage with interpreters. “Sometimes we need to get people over the fear factor of working with the interpreters.” Wagmeister also conducts debriefs with companies, helping them assess what went well and think about how they can improve going forward.

“Technology has been wonderful for the deaf and hard of hearing community,” said Wagmeister. She explained how new technologies are making it easier for deaf and hard of hearing people to lead more independent lives. 

One highlight for Wagmeister is West Palm Beach founder Saïda Florexil’s invention that makes it easier to see who is talking during group conversations. “It’s a game changer,” said Wagmeister, “I love it.” She also expressed positivity about video phone use and the ability to send a text to 911 in Palm Beach County.

Still, Wagmeister thinks that there is still room for innovation. For example, “captioning still has too many glitches,” Wagmeister noted.

Wagmeister is excited to be part of the South Florida tech community, which she says “brings [her] such energy.” She is passionate about “seeing people raising awareness” and feels like some or her “hard work is already paying off.”