Hearing loss can make it trickier to navigate the world around you. Treatment options like hearing aids and cochlear implants can make it significantly easier. However, you may still require additional accommodations to help you hear your best. This is where the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) can help.
What is the ADA?
The ADA, signed into law in 1990, was designed to prohibit discrimination against those with disabilities from various areas of life “including employment, transportation, public accommodations, communications and access to state and local government’ programs and services.”
What the ADA Says About Hearing Loss
The ADA considers hearing loss to be a communication disability, along with those who have speech or vision disabilities.
The ADA “requires that title II entities (State and local governments) and title III entities (businesses and nonprofit organizations that serve the public) communicate effectively with people who have communication disabilities. The goal is to ensure that communication with people with these disabilities is equally effective as communication with people without disabilities.”
How This May Help You
While not an exhaustive list, these are some of the specific ways the ADA (as well as other anti-discrimination laws) can help people with hearing loss:
In the workplace: Your workplace is required to provide you with reasonable accommodations to help you do your job. An accommodation is considered reasonable as long as it does not place undue hardship on the business and significantly affect its ability to operate. When it comes to employees with hearing loss, this may mean providing a sign language interpreter for conferences or big meetings, assistive listening technology like captioned phones and computer software, as well as emergency alert systems that use vibrations or strobe lights to be more noticeable to those with hearing impairments.
Communicating online: Advancements in technology mean we communicate differently now than when the ADA was passed over 30 years ago. This has raised certain questions, like whether websites and apps that don’t have a physical location are considered a place of public accommodation. While no federal guidelines exist to definitively answer that question yet, many websites have added closed captioning and other features to make them more accessible. Additionally, many states have adopted laws requiring better web accessibility.
Using telephones. Before the ADA, the Hearing Aid Compatibility Act already required that all telephones (including cellphones) be compatible with hearing aids. In 2010, the Communications and Video Accessibility Act required that text messaging, e-mail, instant messaging and video call services be accessible to people with disabilities. These laws mean you can take comfort in the fact that the next time you are shopping for a new phone at Valley Plaza Mall in Bakersfield, whatever one you choose will have accessibility features to accommodate your hearing loss.
For more information or if you need to schedule an appointment with one of our hearing specialists, contact The House Institute Hearing Health Centers today.