National Deaf History Month, which was previously recognized from March 13-April 15, will now be recognized throughout the entire month of April. Three pivotal moments of progress for the Deaf community will be honored.
Raising awareness about people who are deaf or hard of hearing can be as simple as telling or writing an email to friends, family, and other acquaintances. Send them a link the following links from our Pure Sound Hearing site:
If you or a loved one are experiencing hearing loss and believe hearing aids would be beneficial, please contact us at Pure Sound Hearing for a complimentary hearing test and consultation.
In the U.S. there have been laws established to protect everyone with hearing loss. These days they need to be adapted for technology that is constantly evolving. July 26th is the 32nd anniversary of the supreme law granting protections to people with a hearing impairment. It is called the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Here are the three titles of the ADA:
Even if you are a hearing aid or cochlear implant user, and those devices can help your hearing limitations, you still have a legal disability status under the ADA. This indicates that under the law, you are guaranteed certain protections and accommodations.
Changes in technology are constantly evolving and services are readily available online. As a result, the definition of discrimination has also changed. One example was when the Zoom video chat service charged more money for closed-captioning during video calls. In December of 2020, two individuals who were hearing impaired sued the company. They cited ADA violations and California and New York laws. In March of 2021, Zoom allowed users to sign up for free live captioning (this feature can only be accessed by the host of the meeting). This feature is now free for all users.
Hearing Loss Accessibility in the Internet Age
The ADA was originally written when the internet was still very new. Judges have provided different rulings on whether “places of public accommodation” include websites and apps, which do not have a physical location. The U.S. Department of Justice stated that it does, but there have not been any regulations issued.
Website accessibility guidelines have stated that anyone with vision impairment should be able to see and read a website, and the tools used by people with disabilities should be easily integrated. Closed captions and transcriptions should be available for all prerecorded audio and video. This is not a guarantee, as users of YouTube videos have been made aware of it.
Telephone Access for Hearing Loss
The law is more straightforward when it comes to telephone systems, which must be available for anyone with hearing loss and speech problems. The options are captioned telephones and web-based captioning services. The 1988 Hearing Aid Compatibility Act orders that every telephone and smartphone must be compatible with hearing aids.
The 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA), which was enacted in 2010, required text messaging, email, instant messaging, and video calls to be accessible for those with disabilities. Free live captioning on private platforms like Zoom is now available.
The U.S. Federal Communications Commission ordered in 2012 that all TV programs with closed captions must be published online.
For all airlines, and foreign airlines that are flying to the U.S., the Air Carriers Access Act (ACAA) requires hearing loss accommodations, such as captioning on airport televisions.
The ADA requires courtrooms, hospitals, and schools to have sign language interpreters available when necessary.
Accessibility in Public Spaces
Theaters that have fixed seating for at least 50 people must provide assistive hearing services for audience members who have hearing loss.
Assistive listening systems for people with hearing loss must be provided by museums. This does not include sign language interpreters or closed captioning, but some include this as an option for Deaf patrons. Most times, these services are free or a small fee is charged.
Other spaces that must provide assistive hearing systems for anyone with hearing loss include hospitals, hotels, concert/lecture halls, convention centers, courtrooms, stadiums, and nursing homes. Facilities that have hearing loops can connect with hearing aids that feature telecoils (or t-coils).
Employment Discrimination and Hearing Loss
Job seekers and employees are protected by the ADA and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. If there are at least 15 employees at your place of employment, you do not have to report your hearing loss and your employer cannot ask you questions to determine whether you have a disability. The employer is allowed to ask specific questions about your ability to perform basic job functions, like how good your communication skills are, whether you can perform in a fast-paced noisy environment, or can meet legally required standards in safety.
If your hearing loss is obvious or you report it, the person who decides whether to hire you can ask if you need accommodations to perform the job.
Your Employer must provide you with Accommodations if You Have a Hearing Loss
Your employer must provide reasonable accommodations, which means it should not be too difficult or expensive to make adjustments. Some accommodations may include a sign language interpreter during meetings or assistive listening devices.
Discuss these things with your employer, and be prepared to give more information about your conditions and needs from your healthcare provider(s).
If you think there’s been a violation of your rights, make a complaint through the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) within 180 days of the incident. A lawsuit may be filed in federal court after you receive a “right to sue” letter from the EEOC.
If you or a loved one are experiencing hearing loss, contact us at Pure Sound Hearing for a complimentary hearing test and consultation.
Hearing loss impacts nearly 48 million people in the U.S. That number is predicted to rise to 1 in 10 people within the next 30 years. There’s no cure for hearing loss, but hearing aids can help with the symptoms of hearing loss. There have been so many advancements in hearing aid technology. Relationships become less strained due to better communication abilities, reduced depression caused by isolation, anxiety, and cognitive decline linked to hearing loss that goes untreated. Let’s review the history and evolution of hearing loss and hearing healthcare.
Earliest Discovery of Hearing Loss
A primitive example of hearing loss was found in skeletal remains that were more than 10,000 years old in the Shanidar Caves located in Iraqi Kurdistan (Southern Kurdistan). Archeologists discovered exostoses - tiny bone growths located in the ear canal that can lead to conductive hearing loss.
A Record of Hearing Loss during Ancient Egypt
A medical journal known as Ebers Papyrus detailed the earliest known record of hearing loss in 1550 BC. In the text, a solution for “Ear That Hears Badly” was detailed as infusing ant eggs, bat wings, goat urine, olive oil, and red lead in the ears. Most of these ingredients were ineffective, but placing some olive oil in the ears is still recommended by some to loosen earwax that’s obstructing the ear canal.
A Record of Hearing Loss during Ancient Greece
During the early 10th-century, Artistotle and Plato mentioned their own hearing loss. Their remarks were incorrect and careless in the way we view the deaf community today. They both noticed that the “ability to reason was intrinsically linked with the ability to speak”. This implies that they believed a person’s ability to hear was related to the person’s intellect. We now know that this is not the case. Some accommodations may be required, but a person’s intelligence and lack of hearing abilities are not interconnected.
A Record of Hearing Loss in France
Sign language was originated by monks in Burgundy, France during the 10th century. Monks who took a vow of silence came up with their own hand signals in order to non-verbally communicate. It was called the Cluniac sign language. The nonverbal language was soon taught to other monks across Europe, with many pointing out that if they lost their voices this sign language would be adequate to communicate with others. This was the basis for modern sign language.
Ancient Hearing Aid Devices
Ear trumpets that were made from animal horns and sheet iron were early instruments for hearing during the 17th century. By the 18th century, they became mass-produced. In 1876, after Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone, inventors had the ability to use this technology in the first amplified electronic hearing aids. Miller Reese Hutchinson introduced the first electronic hearing aids in 1889.
When these devices were introduced during the 1913 World Fair, they were very large and bulky. In 1920, vacuum tube technology made hearing aids easy to travel with and functional. This was standard until the mid-1940s when transistor technology was made for WWII. Microprocessors invented in the mid-1970s and ‘80s provided faster, lighter, and more powerful hearing aids with analog technology.
Digital Hearing Aids
During the 1990s, the first digital technology was introduced to the public. As these new technologies evolved to smaller devices, so did hearing aids. Making the devices more powerful was also important to reduce feedback noises. Digital hearing aids were gradually customized for each individual’s hearing loss, rather than standard options for varying degrees.
Modern hearing aids can help with nearly every range of hearing loss, blocks out background noises, mask tinnitus, connects to devices via Bluetooth®, and uses AI to automatically adjust to your environment.
Contact us at Pure Sound Hearing for more information and to schedule an appointment with one of our hearing instrument specialists.