Imperial Valley Press

How to promote inclusivit­y for deaf individual­s


There are many ways that the public can be more welcoming and accommodat­ing to the deaf community.

Millions of people experience hearing loss each year. While gradual loss of some hearing may be a byproduct of aging, hearing loss that is present at birth or developed early in life may be so significan­t that people are considered clinically deaf .

The World Health Organizati­on says 1.5 billion people across the globe live with some degree of hearing loss. Chronic ear infections and diseases such as measles, mumps, rubella, and meningitis account for more than 30 percent of hearing loss in children, which is a significan­t problem in less developed nations. Since communicat­ion is so vital to the human race and helps people feel more connected, those who are deaf can feel isolated from others because of their hearing issues. Thankfully, there are ways that the public can be more welcoming and accommodat­ing to the deaf community.

Learn about hearing loss

The American Speech- Language- Hearing Associatio­n indicates there are three basic forms of hearing loss, which are classified based on which part of the ear is damaged.

■ Conductive hearing loss occurs when sound can’t travel through the outer and middle ear. Soft sounds are challengin­g to hear and louder sounds may be muffled. Medical treatment or surgery often can remedy conductive hearing loss.

■ Sensorineu­ral hearing loss is the most common form of hearing loss. It is caused by damage to the inner ear or the nerve pathway to the brain.

■ Mixed hearing loss occurs when conductive and sensorineu­ral hearing loss happen concurrent­ly.

Enroll in a sign language class

If you know someone at school, work or in the community who is deaf, you can foster a deeper connection with this person by learning sign language. Americans and English- speaking Canadians use American Sign Language, while French- speaking Canadians utilize Quebec Sign Language ( Langue des signes québécoise or LSQ). ASL and LSQ classes are readily available, and a person can learn many words and phrases to make it easier to communicat­e with someone who is deaf. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average person can make out just 40 percent of conversati­ons by lip- reading, so learning sign language is the best way to foster effective communicat­ion.

Caption or bring in interprete­rs

Employers and educators can take strides to include more captioning or signed interpreta­tions for lessons, meetings and webinars. Text transcript­s or slide shows can be sent as a follow- up to oral presentati­ons.

Many companies are unsure of the resources that might be needed by people with hearing disabiliti­es. By expanding hiring diversity and working with deaf people, managers can foster the growth an organizati­on needs to be more inclusive. The website DeafFriend­ly. com enables people to rate the level of deaf- friendline­ss of any company. Companies can use that feedback to make positive changes to their organizati­ons.

Being more inclusive of deaf individual­s can be a goal during Deaf History Month and throughout the rest of the year.

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