Yesterday marked the 22nd International Day of Persons with Disabilities, first officially recognized by the U.N. back in 1992. On this day, countries around the world typically host forums, discussions, and performances to spread awareness about the day-to-day obstacles that persons with disabilities face. Each year, the U.N. selects a different theme for the day, and this year, the theme was: “Break Barriers, Open Doors: for an inclusive society and development for all.” The number of people with disabilities is 1 billion—or 15 percent of the world population. In the U.S., 40 million have hearing loss. Considering this, we wanted to make a list of the five ways society has become more inclusive for the hearing impaired this year—and five ways we could still improve.
5 Improvements for the Hearing Impaired
- Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities—the U.S. is reconsidering ratifying the treaty, and many have been pushing for its ratification.
- The Sound Vaccine—Scientific studies have shown that a vaccine based in heat shock proteins could greatly reduce the risk of hearing loss.
- Representation—We’re seeing more hearing-impaired persons at every level of society, from fashion runways to theatrical stages and New York Times book reviews.
- Better captioning services—This year has seen a Renaissance in the widespread use of captioning.
- 3D Printing—Yes, you read that right: Now you can 3D print your hearing aids.
5 Steps to make Society Friendlier for the Hearing Impaired
- Google Glass—According to a deaf user’s recent review, the high-tech glasses are not hearing-impaired friendly because of their lack of telecoils and the lack of captioning.
- Don’t Forget the Veterans—Our country still needs to catch up in providing hearing loss treatment for men and women coming back from military service.
- Law and Order—Testifying as a hearing and speech impaired individual in the courtroom is a tricky process, as a sexual abuse trial in Maryland recently proved.
- Hearing in the classroom—accommodations for students aren’t always immediately available or easy to set up.
- Hearing aid prices—Hearing aids are some of the most expensive technology there is—even more expensive than MP3 players, cell phones, printers, or digital cameras!