News & Information

Despite Technology, Hard of Hearing Still Face Difficulties

TTD and Text Messaging for HOH People

Source: 3 KRTV

Technology has allowed great strides to be made in the hard of hearing community; unfortunately, it’s not enough. For anyone who’s ever made the request to communicate via instant messaging, email or even texting, only to be met with a rehearsed, “I’m sorry, we need to speak to you to confirm your identity (or change your account, verify you’re the credit card holder, etc.)”, understands those frustrations.

Many simply do not understand how intrusive, and often discriminating, those requests are. The good news is there are bills that are making their way through the lengthy political and legislative channels.

The National Association of the Deaf, or NAD, co-founded the Coalition of Organizations for Accessible Technology (COAT) in 2007. This coalition encompasses more than 250 disability-related organizations. The purpose is to advocate for changes and safeguards with the goal of ensuring full access to the ever-changing and advancing technologies. These technologies include wireless and other IP advances.

Within its first year, it introduced legislation to Congress,

Twenty First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act,

A year later, in 2009, the bill was introduced again. When it’s passed, it will provide many updates to the current Communication Act while also putting into place new¬† guidelines.

While there are many provisions in this particular legislation, HOHYPF is particularly hopeful for the passage of a few specific ones –

Emergency Access and Real-Time Text Support will, when passed, make a significant difference in the lives of those who are all too familiar with the above referenced scenario. According to COAT,

It contains a specific requirement for real-time text support, to ensure that people with disabilities, especially individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing or who have a speech disability, are able to communicate with others via text in an IP environment with the same reliability and interoperability as they receive via the public telephone network when using TTYs. A primary goal of this section is to ensure that individuals who rely on text to communicate have equal access to emergency services during and after the migration to a national IP-enabled emergency network.

Also, the Hearing Aid Compatibility section extends current federal laws that require hearing aid compatibility on new telephones that are compatible with equipment used to provide IP-enabled communication services. This, of course, will put into place the assurances that the hard of hearing community has technologically advanced resources.

These bills extend current authority that’s already in the Communications Act. While we’re barely scratching the surface, there are many more provisions built into the legislation. While no one can be sure of when – and if – it passes and eventually becomes law, there’s sure to be a long overdue shift for those in the hard of hearing community.

HOHYPF will be closely monitoring this legislation as it moves forward. You can read more about the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act here.




Donna is a professional writer residing in south Mississippi. With more than 15 years writing experience, she has written several e-books, countless newsletters and has provided content for more than 150 websites. She completed her first novel last year and is currently in the research phase for her second novel. She has worked with battered women for two decades as they seek safety away from their abusers. Many of these victims suffer hearing damage or hearing loss as a result of the abuse they endure. With this insight, she brings an interesting dynamic to the Hard of Hearing for Young People Foundation. Donna on Google+

1 Comment

  1. Brandon McBride says:

    The available technologies are bridging the gap, and I feel that fact is downplayed in this article. I’m hard-pressed to think of a major service that doesn’t operate online, allowing everyone the ability to manipulate their account information without needing to speak over the phone with a representative.

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