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Keys open doors. In our lifetime we are required to enter many different doors to education, employment, leisure, etc. We need different keys to enter our destinations.
Advances in communication technology are providing persons with hearing loss keys to their future. Communication technology is growing so fast it is difficult for the average person to keep track of the newest developments and gadgets on the market.
Computer owners are aware of the speed of technological development. They know that whatever they buy now will be obsolete in 3 years. Similarly, a new device on the market costing several hundred dollars will often sell for less than $100.00 within three years.
The future of persons with hearing loss will never be the same. Our younger generation will use technology that was just a pipedream to our grandfathers and wishful thinking to us. Employment, classroom education, television viewing, conferences, workshops, staff meetings, communication with family, friends and strangers, emergency broadcasts and accessible facilities are on the point of becoming so easy that in the next 30 years, accessibility barriers will come tumbling down like Jericho's Wall.
What about devices for persons with hearing loss? In the past 25 years we had many developments such as closed captioning, telephone relay services, portable TTYs, and an assortment of assistive listening, telephone and signalling devices. Then, quite unexpectedly there was a slump, or appeared to be one when no breakthrough devices were marketed. We had refinements of the old ones but, they were basically the same devices wrapped in new packages with the proverbial add-ons, bells and whistles.
Advances in communication devices for persons with hearing loss had to wait while the Internet and computer-based technology advanced to a level that could integrate the needs of persons with hearing loss with the general communication needs of our society.
Though many of these Keys are in actual use, they still require full integration into North American culture in order to benefit all Canadians with hearing loss.
These keys are:
- Wireless communication
- Internet-based communication
- Stand-Alone Technologies
Examples of KEY technological breakthroughs: (click on the link for further information)
|Wireless Communication||Internet-based Communication||Stand-alone Technologies|
» Technology Access Program
» Harris Communications
» How Stuff Works
|Assistive Listening Devices
Portable Induction Loops
|Personal Data Assistants
» How Stuff Works
|CapTel Relay Services (Not available in Canada)
» How Stuff Works
|Alternative Power Sources
» B is for Batteries
» Technology Access Program
|Speech Recognition technology in telephone relay services, conferences, television
|Speech Recognition technology at staff meetings, workshops, classrooms
» Liberated Learning
|Highway TTYs (Not available in Canada)
» AllDeaf Forums
|Internet-Protocol (IP) Relays (Not available in Canada)
|Voice over the Internet Protocol (VoIP) (Not available in Canada)
Public TTY Pay Phones
|ITYs - Interpreter Type Systems
|VRS (Sign Language phone calls via video relays) (Not available in Canada)
» Sorenson VRS
» NEW 120 Channels of Full-Spectrum Sound
» MicroLink Freedom
» The Vibrant Soundbridge
|Wireless CART - the StenoCast X-7 transmits to 7 receiver laptops
|Remote CART for teleconferences and meetings
|Computer Assisted Realtime Translation (CART)
Imagine a world where every phone in the office can answer TTY calls...
» SNA Consulting
|Special TTY features
» Remote answering
» VCO and HCO capability
» Built in microphone
» Audible ringer
» Connects to computer printer
» Connects to cordless or cellular phones
Universal Design: The process to ensuring the needs of persons with hearing loss is not forgotten.
"Universal design is the process of creating products (devices, environments, systems, and processes) which are usable by people with the widest possible range of abilities, operating within the widest possible range of situations (environments, conditions, and circumstances)" (http://trace.wisc.edu/docs/whats_ud/whats_ud.htm)
Consumers need alternate communication methods because when they talk to others on the telephone, pay attention to their tasks, work or eat or drink in a noisy environment it is less important whether they have a hearing loss or not.
The hard of hearing and deafened benefited from this universal design application in the past when we advocated for:
- Volume controls in all telephones to the benefit of everyone, whether they used a hearing aid or not
- Closed captioning decoder chips (CC) in all televisions that benefited not just persons with hearing loss but also those who did not use hearing aids, children and adults learning to read and the restaurant and entertainment providers (quiet televisions you can still understand)
- FM and IF systems in meeting facilities that benefited all, especially where there were problems with acoustics and lines of view
Advocacy for Universal Design
CHHA will continue to advocate for Universal Design principles but we need your help. Let your voice be heard!
- CHHA Universal Design and Banner Free Access & Guidelines for Persons with Hearing Loss
- Links to consumer membership organizations that are active in advocating for communication accessibility. The publications of these organizations regularly publish articles on communications and technology accessibility
- Trace Research & Development Center: Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Telecommunications Access
- National Centre for Hearing Assistive Technology
- Gallaudet University -Technology Access Program
Copyright © 2009 the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association (CHHA)
Direct commercial exploitation is not permitted. No warranty of accuracy is given concerning the contents of the information contained in this publication. To the extent permitted by law, no liability (including liability to any person by reason of negligence) will be accepted by CHHA its subsidiaries or employees for any direct, or indirect loss or damage caused by omissions from or inaccuracies in this document. CHHA reserves the right to change details in this publication without notice.