A guest article by Dr. Theresa Szczurek, former CIO / Executive Director of the Governor’s Office of Information Technology for the State of Colorado.
CODA won the best picture Oscar in 2022. The acronym CODA means ‘child of deaf adult’. This touching movie raises awareness of the challenges faced by people with hearing disabilities, as well as CODA family members. The question we need to ask is, what are we doing to support people with hearing loss and improve their accessibility?
Why Should You Care?
1. NEGATIVE IMPACT. Hearing loss has been shown to negatively impact nearly every dimension of the human experience, including physical health, emotional and mental health, perceptions of mental acuity, social skills, family relationships, and self esteem, as well as work and school performance.
2. FINANCIAL IMPACT. Those with unaided hearing loss earned on average $20,000 less annually than those who used hearing aids or cochlear implants.
IT’S THE LAW. U.S laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), require that accommodations be made to improve accessibility to those with hearing and other disabilities. Accessibility is defined as “the quality of being able to be reached or entered, easily understood or appreciated.” ADA prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in several areas, including employment, transportation, public accommodations, communications and access to state and local government programs and services.
Practical Pointers for Coping with Hearing Loss
1. GET EDUCATED. Learn about hearing loss and other disabilities and what you can do to accommodate the situation.
2. SEEK MEDICAL HELP and get tested. People with hearing loss wait an average of 7 years before seeking help.
3. COPE AND SUPPORT. The Mayo Clinic offers tips to help you communicate more easily despite your hearing loss. For example, tell your friends and family that you have some hearing loss. Position yourself to hear by facing the person you’re talking to. Turn off background noise. For example, noise from a television may interfere with conversation. See the complete list.
4. TURN ON CAPTIONS. During virtual meetings and while watching TV, turn on captioning so audio is represented in text format. In this way, people can leverage visual as well as audible information sources.
5. TAKE ACTION. Government and businesses must consider the Americans with Disabilities Act and provide technological and other solutions that can help people accommodate hearing loss.
6. USE ‘VOICE WITH VISUALS’ COMMUNICATIONS. According to Dr. John Medina, author of Brainrules, when you see and hear information you are 600% more likely to understand. That’s one reason why Radish Systems offers ChoiceView® as a way to transform voice-only transactions into multi-modal ‘voice with visuals’ communications for both automated and live interactions. Learn more.