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The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) was founded in 1990. So this year the ADA is 30! The ADA raises awareness about disabilities, and protects the rights of Americans with disabilities. This includes people with hearing loss. The ADA ensures that people with hearing loss have equal access to work opportunities and community services. However, there’s still a lot more work to be done on hearing loss.
Understanding the Americans With Disabilities Act
The ADA was signed into law in 1990, and since then it’s protected Americans with disabilities. The act legislates equal opportunities for Americans with disabilities, and ensures equal access to services and employment. The ADA states that businesses and companies cannot discriminate against anyone because of a disability. Workplaces, community services, and government organizations must all comply with ADA regulations in providing equal access and opportunities to Americans with disabilities.
In the last 30 years the ADA has made incredible progress, but there’s still a lot more work to be done.
The ADA is groundbreaking legislation that protects the rights of Americans with disabilities. The act has increased accessibility for all Americans, including those with hearing loss. If you have hearing loss, the ADA requires employers, educational institutions, and service providers to help you hear through reasonable accommodations. This can include real time captioning, providing an FM receiver, using an ASL interpreter, or utilizing a note taker.
The ADA has also worked tirelessly to raise awareness about disability issues, including hearing loss issues. Hearing loss is sometimes called an invisible disability because it’s hard to spot. People with hearing loss don’t have any visible markers of their hearing loss, so others don’t realize they have this disability, or that they may need accommodations to help them hear clearly.
Increasing Visibility in Media
One way to raise more awareness about hearing loss is to advocate for increasing visibility and representation in media. Very few companies use images of people with hearing loss, or show modern hearing technology. Some companies even portray hearing loss using outdated images of large and unattractive hearing aids.
Using images of modern hearing technology and normalizing wearing hearing aids can continue to raise awareness of hearing loss, and shed some light on this invisible disability.
Regulating Online Communication
In 1990 no one was communicating online so there are very few regulations about online communication. Another way the ADA can continue to support the hard of hearing community is to update the laws about online communication. Online spaces can be challenging for people with hearing loss, and it can be difficult to hear what’s being said. Some social media platforms provide closed captioning for videos, while others do not. Until the ADA regulates closed captioning, many of these companies won’t invest the resources to make their platforms accessible for everyone.
Regulating Video Calls
When it comes to digital communication, like video calls, addition regulation could go a long way in making these spaces more inclusive for people with hearing loss. Some platforms do provide real-time closed captioning during video and audio calls, while others do not. Without closed captioning, it can be very challenging for those with hearing loss to participate in these virtual meetings.
Another area where the ADA has more work to do involves regulations about accessing healthcare. People with hearing loss have a hard time following conversations, and in a crowded doctor’s office or hospital, all the background noises can make it even harder to hear what’s being said. The hard of hearing community often relies on body language cues or lip reading to understand their healthcare professionals.
As healthcare providers are required to wear masks, it becomes even more challenging for people with hearing loss to follow the conversation. One solution the ADA could propose is to regulate mask wearing by asking healthcare professionals to wear masks with a clear panel over the mouth. This would make it easier for the hard of hearing community to understand what’s being said.
Treating Hearing Loss
If you have a hearing loss, it’s time to treat your hearing loss with a quality pair of hearing aids. These devices will help you access services, hear at work, and catch every word during online meetings. Celebrate the ADA turning 30 by treating your hearing loss today! Contact us to schedule a consultation.