What are the Different Types of Services for the Hearing Impaired?
Hearing loss can occur in varying degrees of severity. Those variations mean people who are deaf or hard of hearing — terms preferred by some advocacy groups over “hearing impaired” — need varying levels of assistance. Many different services for the hearing impaired help them communicate, regardless of their level of hearing. Depending on the situation, deaf services provide methods of communication through systems such as schools, the media and personal communication.
Historically, deaf children and those who were hard of hearing attended private schools specifically for deaf students. Most public schools in the United States in 2010 are incorporating all students into the classroom, regardless of hearing status. The rise of multimedia availability in the classroom allows students who are hard of hearing to learn alongside their hearing peers through visual media, captioning and sign language. Additionally, many schools provide speech pathology services to help with the development of language among students who are hearing impaired.
American Sign Language (ASL) is a form of communication using hands and facial expressions to converse with people who are deaf or hard of hearing. ASL can be used in one-to-one communication between two people who understand the hand signs; it can also be incorporated into other settings to interpret for larger groups. For example, an ASL interpreter may translate spoken words during meetings, lectures or church services for the hearing impaired. Some situations, such as a doctor’s appointment or interview, require an ASL interpreter to sign and interpret between one person and the person who is deaf or hard of hearing.
Communication by phone can be facilitated through the use of teletypewriting (TTY), which is a type of telephone texting. These types of services for the hearing impaired send typed messages through a system attached to a telephone. One person types a message and it is sent to be read by the other person on a machine that has a readable screen. Relay services also allow messages between two people when one of them does not have a TTY. By calling a number, the relay service acts as an interpreter by typing the spoken message to the person who is hard of hearing so it can be read.
Closed captioning services for the hearing impaired are available through home television sets and can be set up to display spoken words of each character in the program. Since 1993, all televisions with screens greater than 13 inches have been required to have captioning capabilities as part of their design. Some movie theaters offer services to the hearing impaired by showing films that have captioning. These movies may be available at certain times or in specific locations, depending on the showing.
Various types of hearing-assisted technology is available that amplifies sound for the person with hearing loss. Some of these technologies include FM systems, induction loop systems and one-to-one communicators. These systems require a speaking person to use a microphone that transmits the sound into a receiver or hearing aids worn by the person with hearing loss. These types of technologies allow a person who is hard of hearing to hear more sounds, such as through conversations or lectures, while filtering out background noise.
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