communications access for people with hearing loss
People with hearing loss are denied access to a variety of situations because they are denied
communications access. This happens all too frequently in entertainment, education,
and transportation situations.
A common complaint of hard of hearing, late deafened,
and oral deaf people is that they are denied access to situations that the normally
hearing population takes for granted. These situations are so numerous
that people with normal hearing can't imagine how prevalent they are.
Here's a great summary of the issues as
reported by SHHH.
has the potential to provide access to people with hearing loss in a
variety of situations. People normally think of television when they
hear the word, but it also applies to movies, meetings, and even the
internet. Here's some information on what's going on in captioning.
of the most challenging access situations for people with hearing loss
is the field of education. Long
mandated by a variety of laws, equal education access for people with
hearing loss is not yet a reality.
Does it seem
that you've been reading more newspaper articles about the tendency of
law enforcement agencies to ignore citizens' civil rights? Imagine how
much worse that situation might be for people who have communications
difficulties. What are the issues with law enforcement
and people with hearing loss?
Can you imagine
going in to talk to your doctor, and not being able to understand what
he was saying? That's the situation with many people who have hearing
loss. The lack of medical access can
be extremely stressful to people with hearing loss.
the current technology explosion, it is critically important for people
with hearing loss to maintain access to existing and future telecommunications
equipment and services.
One ongoing source of frustration for people with
hearing loss is getting information while traveling. Read about people's
access complaints involving transportation.
about vacations? What kinds of vacations can a person with hearing loss
take and expect to have access to the communication aspects of the
vacation. This vacation guide can help you
figure out where to go.
Another issue that often comes up
when people with hearing loss talk about their issues is the
high cost of equipment and the lack of assistance in paying for it.
of the most important technologies for providing access in public places
are assistive listening devices
(ALDs), including FM systems, Infrared systems, and induction loops.
August 2012 - Neck loops for movie theaters
August 2012 - People with Hearing Loss Suffer Housing
August 2012 - Consumer Groups Fight Back Attempts to
Water Down 21st CVAA Regulations
August 2012 - FCC Program Provides Communications
Technology to Americans with Vision and Hearing Loss
July 2012 - Court Decision May Lead to Better
Accommodations for People with Disabilities
March 2012 - Designing a City for the Deaf
September 2011 -
Industry Attempts to Dilute 21st Century
Communications and Video Accessibility Act
April 2011 - Handbell Choir Adventures of
Musician with Hearing Loss
April 2011 - National Park Service
Adds Assistive Technology System
March 2011 - FCC Implementing "Twenty-First
Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010"
January 2011 -
Hotel ADA Defense Lawyer: How a recent ADA case
affects all hotels but particularly conference centers and meeting
November 2010 - A Dark Night, a
Hearing Dog, and a Day in Court
October 2010 - What S. 3304 Will Do For Us -
September 2010 - 21st Century Communications and
Video Accessibility Legislation Passes
August 2010 - Senate Passes Important
July 2010 - The National Broadband Plan and You
June 2010 - The Sky is Falling! The Sky is
June 2010 - Electronics Industry Bad Attitude
Affirms Need for Accessibility Legislation
June 2010 -
Organizing for Effective Advocacy
March 2010 - Class Action Lawsuit: eBay
Violated Americans with Disabilities Act
March 2010 - Justice Department and H&R Block
Franchisee Reach ADA
March 2010 -
Working with the FCC's
Consumer Advisory Committee
December 2009 - Wash-CAP Is Getting a Southern
Sept 2009 - Microsoft's Efforts in
Sept 2009 - Las Vegas Casino Provides
Accommodations for Woman with Hearing Loss
July 2009 - COAT Applauds
Representative Markey's Accessibility Bill
June 2009 - WANTED: You to Sign the COAT
Petition for Access
March 2009 - TDI and COAT Needs Your Support on
the 21st Century Communications and Video Access Act
June 2008 -
New and Emerging Technologies 911
May 2008 - Wash-CAP Advocates for Rights of HOH in
March 2008 - CHHA Releases Universal Design Document
February 2008 - Requirements for Assistive Listening
Systems in Conference Facilities
September 2007 - TDI
Converence keynote Presentation by Deborah Kaplan, the Director of
Accessible Technology at the California State University (CSU) system
April 2007 - Concert
Listening Technology for Deaf and Hard of Hearing
2007 - Coalition of Organizations for
October 2006 - Device helps deaf musicians stay on beat.
October 2006 - Teaching a Cochlear Implantee to Play
September 2006 -
IBM develops mobile system for the hard of hearing
August 2006 - And here's a
summary of the HLAA Presentation to the Access Board Information Meeting
on Communications Access.
August 2006 -
NAD Presentation at Access Board Meeting on
August 2006 -
Here's a great discussion of several communications access issues:
Access Board Information Meeting on Communication
May 2006 - The hearing loss community in the US
is expressing growing concern that ongoing technological advances are
reducing, rather than increasing, access for people with hearing loss. One
glaring example is the explosion of non-captioned video on the Internet.
Folks in the UK are expressing similar concerns, and they've undertaken a
comprehensive program to do something about it!
Here's the report from the RNID.
March 2005 - One of our continuing articles on the
OHL community is a discussion of Grace Tiessen's presentation at the
2005 SHHH California conference. The title is "Grassroots
Advocacy for Hard of Hearing People".
January 2005 - When we think about communications access
at movies we often think in terms of captioning. And we have lots of
information on that topic here.
But don't forget that most movie theaters also provide ALDs to assist
people with hearing loss. Here's Steve
Barber with lots of great information on how everyone can better use
this neglected resource.
October 2004 - OK, you know about some of the access
issues in the US. How about other countries? How are they doing in
providing access to people with hearing loss? How about Britain for
example? Here's a great article on the DDA, which is the British equivalent of our ADA.
October 2003 - Following up on
the previous article on accessibility, here's an article from a recent
workshop on Emergency Preparedness for People
2003 - There are some things that seem a bit incongruous when you first
hear them, but may turn out to make a lot of sense. That's how the
concept of "Radio for Hard of Hearing People"
April 2003 - Is the war on terrorism
accessible? Suppose there is a disaster that requires large groups of
citizens to seek medical care. Will the emergency facilities be
accessible? Randy Collins' "So You Thought
Terrorism Would be Accessible" provides an interesting
perspective on this issue.
March 2003 - Looking for
an accessibility manual that pretty much covers it all? The FCC has just
released theirs. It was developed for internal use, but applies to any
organization that wants to provide accessibility. Here's more
information on the FCC Accessibility Guide.
2003 - Think the rights of people with disabilities are gradually being
eroded? Worried that the ADA no longer offers the protections that were
intended? Then you've got to read Diane Edge's
"Then They Came".
A recent review of comments in the FCC docket in
regard to proposed new rules to implement the 21st CVAA reveals that,
despite this significant legislation, the fight to secure accessible
advanced communications technology and services continues during the
rulemaking process. One blind cable TV subscriber wrote eloquently asking
the FCC to not grant a waiver exempting the nation's largest TV trade
association (NCTA) up to 2016 to make their set-top boxes accessible.
Read NCTA request for this waiver here. Several national consumer groups
have protested this industry exemption request for accessible
communications equipment saying "petitioners are abusing the CVAA's
limited primary purpose waiver provision to collectively exclude people
with disabilities from accessing the entire universe of increasingly
convergent multi-purpose living room-based devices and services,
potentially perpetuating a serious digital divide." The National
Association of the Deaf (NAD) and other consumer groups have asserted that
industry groups are "trying to make an end run" around proposed new FCC
rules under 21st CVAA through asking for waivers and other "we want lots
of flexibility" type requests.
Many thousands of Americans who have combined
vision and hearing loss may soon be able to connect with family, friends,
and community through the National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution
Program. Mandated by the 21st Century Communications and Video
Accessibility Act (CVAA), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
established this new program to provide support for the local distribution
of a wide array of accessible communications technology. Technology can be
a difference maker in getting or holding a job, managing a household, or
simply living a safe, healthy life. The distribution program is designed
to ensure that every individual has the tools needed to interact with the
world as an involved, contributing member of society. The program provides
outreach,assessments, telecommunications technology, and training free of
charge to those who meet federal eligibility guidelines.
In 2009, Deaf411, a public relations firm
serving the deaf community, released a report on Deaf-Friendly Cities in
the U.S., saluting places like Washington, D.C., Chicago, Seattle,
Raleigh, and Denver for their efforts to accommodate the deaf or hard of
hearing. But for every city on the list, countless others-including San
Francisco, St. Louis, Atlanta, and Philadelphia-did not make the cut.
Now Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., the nation's leading
institution for the deaf and hard of hearing, has produced a set of
so-called DeafSpace Guidelines that address those aspects of the urban
environment that inhibit communication and mobility among those who
communicate with their hands. In doing so, architects and design
researchers have used technology to gather information on how deaf
people use public spaces and modify them to meet their needs. Campus
officials say that the guidelines have already begun a dialogue that
they hope will have an impact on urban development nationwide.
Lawmakers who spearheaded efforts to get makers of
smartphones, tablet computers and communications services to better meet
the needs of the disabled are pressing the Federal Communications
Commission to resist industry pressure to short-circuit landmark law. As
the FCC nears an Oct. 11 deadline for a vote on ways to implement the 21st
Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act, commissioners are
being urged by some key House and Senate Democrats to stand their ground.
The lawmakers are concerned that segments of the tech industry want to win
blanket waivers for some services, shield some products from the law's
reach and delay implementation of the law. "This sweeping new law is
designed to ensure that Americans with disabilities can access the
technology tools that are indispensable for full participation in the 21st
century," Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) said in a statement to POLITICO. "My
colleagues in the House and Senate have joined me in urging the commission
to ensure that the implementing regulations are broad and do not delay or
dilute the act's provisions."
What do movie theaters and hotels have in common?
For one thing, both movie theaters and hotels are considered "public
accommodations" under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and both
are required to provide disabled patrons equal access to facilities,
including accessibility to movies, slideshows, and other audio and video
presentations. In some instances, new technology can make it easier to
achieve equal access... but it still can be a challenge.
A recent class action filed against Cinemark USA
Inc. for discrimination against hearing impaired individuals due to lack
of closed-captioning in theaters could have broad implications for hotels,
particularly conference centers and hotels which cater to meetings and
group business, in addition to hotels which cater to state organizations
and governmental groups.
I was talking about this case the other day with
my partner, ADA defense lawyer Marty Orlick. Marty is an expert in ADA
defense and counseling, having defended owners and operators of properties
in more than 400 cases. After a little collaboration, Marty put together a
summary of the Cinemark case and its implications for the hotel industry.
There is more to it than meets the eye.
What responsibilities do hotels have to deaf and
hard of hearing guests? And what are the exceptions? How do hotels best
protect themselves? How do hotels maximize business opportunities by
providing auxiliary aides and services?
Battat, Associate Executive Director of the Hearing Loss Association of
America, recently presented several hearing loss issues at the Access
Board Information Meeting on Communications Issues. The issues were:
for Continuing Education on Existing Guidelines
Information Presented Over Public Address Systems
Emergency Information Given over Public Address Systems
Sound Input for Assistive Listening Systems in Different Venues
Fire and Carbon Monoxide alarms
Control for Telephones
Through and Point of Sales Machines and Counters