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.
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 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.
Deafness, Communication and Isolation in the Workplace: This article explores the challenges that deaf people face while communicating for work, both through telecommunications and in person. This is a PDF.
Issues and Concerns for TDD: Learn about the costs and implications of using a TTY system for communication with the deaf.
Technology for Deaf People: Review a brief overview of the different devices that the deaf have used to communicate, both in the past and now.
Building Interaction with an Isolated Population Through Social Media: The Deaf Community: This thesis points out how social media have worked to help deaf people overcome the isolation they face.
E-Learning Environment for Deaf People in the E-Commerce and New Technologies Sector: Learn about changes and steps that need to be taken so that deaf people can take advantage of the opportunities available through online learning.
Technology for the Deaf: This offers a few different solutions to help the deaf communicate with hearing people more effectively over the phone.
Helping Hearing and Speech Impaired: Learn about how Tampa Bay has worked to make telecommunications easier for deaf people.
Telecommunications Relay Service: The FCC gives updates on the relay service, how to qualify and the rules surrounding it on this page.
911: Serving the Hearing Impaired: This explains how 911 services are working to communicate more effectively with the deaf.
The Americans with Disabilities Act: Emergency Response Systems and Telecommunication Devices for the Deaf: This outlines the requirements set forth by the ADA for businesses and schools.
History of Telecommunications Access for Individuals with Disabilities: Review the history of telecommunication devices for the deaf and other disabled people.
Telecommunications Access: The Justice Department outlines the needs and tools available to help the deaf with telecommunications.
Access for 911 and Telephone Emergency Services: This outlines how people who communicate primarily with TTYs can use 911 services.
Communications Act: The National Association of the Deaf explains the Communications Act of 1934 and the changes in the relay services over time.
DCMP Library: This is a library of closed-captioned DVDs to help students meet the Common Core standards as well as videos you can watch online.
Deaf Culture: PBS offers simple explanations of the devices that deaf people use to navigate a hearing world, including several different telecommunication devices.
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