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Telecommunicating and Accessibility Issues for the Deaf

Information about Telecommunications and Computer Accessibility

One of the most difficult challenges facing deaf people is the ability to communicate within a hearing world. American sign language is an effective means of communication when you are with someone, but the challenges of communicating from home over the phone proved difficult for many years. Deaf people began using teletypewriters (TTYs) to speak with other people over the phone. This would allow them to type a message to someone else who had a TTY device. However, it still limited communications with those who did not have the devices.


Telecommunications Accessibility

Recognizing the need for further ways to communicate, many local and state governments set up relay services, allowing deaf people to call and have their message communicated to a hearing person who doesn't have a TTY. The Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990 set up a national relay service and worked to provide 911 access to deaf people. In recent years, text messaging, video chats and video relays have also made it easier for deaf people to communicate, since many people already have access to these options. Cell phones also make it easier to communicate no matter where you are, which addresses the issue of finding a TTY when you are traveling.


Computer Accessibility

Computer accessibility has opened doors to communication for the deaf. It is easier to connect with others through email, video conferencing and instant messaging over the Internet, since these are more visual forms of communication. However, there are still challenges when it comes to viewing videos online, since many of them are not captioned. Nonetheless, computers and the growing number of online ways to communicate have made things much easier for many deaf people.


Other Accessibility Issues

As more of our world moves online, the deaf have reaped many benefits, but there are still challenges. One of the larger remaining online obstacles is live videos, such as lectures for distance-learning courses, which often do not provide closed captioning. Deaf people continue to face communication issues, but the advances in technology are helping to make it easier to overcome these issues. In addition to making communication easier, technology can make it easier for interpreters to help deaf people remotely through video conferences or video phones.


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