Something Completely Different is Good

Accessibility Matters

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Is your business and your technology accessible? Accessibility is a hot topic. So much so that the State of Colorado legislature passed and Governor Polis signed HB21-1110 into law in 2021. Most all accessibility guidelines relate to web content or documents. They assume people will start at a website. But what about people who start with a phone call? Learn more in this newsletter.

CODA won the best picture Oscar in 2022. The acronym CODA means 'child of deaf adult.' This touching movie raises awareness of the challenges faced by people with hearing disabilities, as well as CODA family members. The question we need to ask is, what are we doing to support people with hearing loss or other disabilities, and improve their accessibility?

Why Should You Care?

NEGATIVE IMPACT. Hearing loss has been shown to negatively impact nearly every dimension of the human experience, including physical health, emotional and mental health, perceptions of mental acuity, social skills, family relationships, and self esteem, as well as work and school performance.
FINANCIAL IMPACT. Those with unaided hearing loss earned on average $20,000 less annually than those who used hearing aids or cochlear implants.
PEOPLE IMPACT. About 15% of the world's population, or over 1 billion people, live with some form of disability, of whom 2-4% experience significant difficulties in functioning. They are the world's largest minority.
IT'S THE LAW. U.S laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), require that accommodations be made to improve accessibility to those with hearing and other disabilities. In Colorado, HB21-1110 makes it a state civil rights violation for a government agency to exclude people with disabilities from receiving services or benefits because of lack of accessibility. All state agencies and local governments must be compliant with state standards by July 1, 2024. The United Nations adopted in 2006 a Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities.

Practical Pointers for Coping with Hearing Loss

GET EDUCATED. Learn about hearing loss and other disabilities and what you can do to accommodate the situation.
SEEK MEDICAL HELP and get tested. People with hearing loss wait an average of 7 years before seeking help.
COPE AND SUPPORT. The Mayo Clinic offers tips to help you communicate more easily despite your hearing loss. Tell your friends and family that you have some hearing loss. Position yourself to hear by facing the person you’re talking to. Turn off background noise. For example, noise from a television may interfere with conversation. See the complete list.
TURN ON CAPTIONS. During virtual meetings and while watching TV, turn on captioning so audio is represented in text format. In this way, people can leverage visual as well as audible information sources.
TAKE ACTION. Government and businesses must consider the Americans with Disabilities Act and provide technological and other solutions that can help people accommodate hearing loss.
USE 'VOICE WITH VISUALS' COMMUNICATIONS. According to Dr. John Medina, author of Brain Rules, when you see and hear information you are 600% more likely to understand. Radish System's ChoiceView® addresses this market with a new kind of voice-and-visual phone call positioned between a voice-only call and a videoconference. ChoiceView improves phone accessibility for users with sensory, cognitive, or mobility disabilities. It helps businesses make and save money while preserving compatibility with their existing phone systems. ChoiceView provides a realistic alternative for users who want to reach businesses via a phone call but need to engage beyond voice only. Learn more.

Summary

Accessibility matters. Over 1 billion people in the world live with disability. You should care because of the large negative impact on people and the economy and because it's now the law. Use these tips: get educated, seek medical help, cope, provide support, and take action. Consider how to expand from voice-only to 'voice with visuals' communications.

Theresa M. Szczurek  copyright 2022.  All rights reserved.  

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