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Which Different Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services are Available?

Article Details
  • Written By: S. Anderson
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 25 October 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2018
    Conjecture Corporation
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Many assistive devices are used to provide deaf and hard of hearing services, allowing the hearing disabled to participate in day-to-day communication. Personal FM communicators or sign language translators are available for group situations. Hotels can provide visual or vibratory alerts to provide alarm cues. Closed captioning provides access to television and movies. Telephone companies provide teletype or telecommunications relay to allow the hard of hearing to phone businesses or family members.

In the United States, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that accommodations be provided to those who are deaf or hard of hearing. Reasonable accommodations can be requested from any public service or in any public building. In a hospital, for example, patients can request a sign language interpreter. In hotels, deaf and hard of hearing services may include the provision of a telephone with visual alerts.

In a hearing world, most alert systems — smoke alarms, telephones and doorbells — are audible. Such services are not useful to the deaf and hard of hearing. Adaptive alarms are available that use vibration or flashing lights instead of sound. Universal receivers can link multiple alert systems and be programmed with various patterns of vibration or lights to distinguish the different alerts. Employers can provide these alternate alert systems to hard of hearing employees.

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Telephone companies offer two types of deaf and hard of hearing services. TTY, or teletype, allows the user to type and read conversations. TTY-compatible phone numbers are different from an agency’s usual phone number. TTY is not practical for phoning family or friends, so telecommunications relay services (TRS) may be available. In TRS, a human translator reads the TTY to the hearing person and then translates his speech back to TTY text for the deaf person.

As an alternative to sign language translators, personal FM transceivers may be provided in instances when large groups make it difficult to hear a speaker. Such deaf and hard of hearing services may be available for lecture theaters, live performances or conferences. In personal FM, the speaker's microphone is connected to an induction coil and associated antenna. If the person is wearing a hearing aid, switching to the telephone setting will allow the hearing aid to pick up the signal. Alternately, an FM receiver with head phones can be provided by the organizers.

Closed captioning (CC) is one of the deaf and hard of hearing services available for television and movies. This option has been available on all televisions and TV shows since the early 1990s. DVD technology has allowed movies to be provided with CC as a language option. Reverse-text display of captions is a service offered by some movie theaters, or the theater may offer special screenings with captions.

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