In preparation for the International Day of People with Disabilities, Tender Loving Care Disability Services has launched a campaign that features a series of articles spotlighting different disabilities. Our goal is to raise awareness about the individuals we assist and emphasise our unwavering commitment to supporting them.
For this article, we will tackle Deafness & Hearing Impairment.
What is Deafness & Hearing Impairment?
Deafness and hearing impairment encompass a spectrum of conditions that impact an individual’s ability to perceive sound, including being hard of hearing or having partial hearing loss.
Within this spectrum, specific disabilities include congenital deafness, acquired deafness due to illness or injury, presbycusis (age-related hearing loss), and auditory processing disorders. These conditions can manifest differently, from profound deafness, where an individual can’t hear anything, to milder forms where hearing difficulties occur but with varying degrees of residual hearing.
Diagnosis of these conditions can occur at any stage of life, but in some cases, it’s possible to detect them shortly after birth through Victorian Government and the newborn hearing screening programs. These programs play a crucial role in identifying potential hearing issues early, allowing for timely intervention and support.
Early diagnosis and understanding the specific nature of the hearing impairment experienced by an individual are fundamental steps in providing appropriate accommodations and support tailored to their unique needs.
Creating An Inclusive Environment for People with Deafness & Hearing Impairment
An inclusive space for those with hearing impairments is crucial for their participation and integration. When environments lack inclusivity, it can lead to isolation, communication problems, and limited access to essential information. Here’s how you can help:
- Activate subtitles while watching TV or streaming content to aid those with hearing impairments in following the dialogue.
- Install visual alert devices for doorbells or alarms that use flashing lights or vibrations to alert individuals who might not hear traditional auditory signals.
- Create a quieter environment by reducing unnecessary background noise to facilitate clearer communication for individuals with hearing impairments.
- Employ visual reminders or cues for daily activities or important events, enhancing accessibility for those who might rely less on auditory cues.
- Set up specific areas in the home with optimised acoustics for better communication, free from excessive noise or distractions.
- Offer access to advanced hearing aids or FM (Frequency Modulation) systems to aid students in better hearing and understanding in the classroom.
- Include sign language education in the curriculum or offer interpreters.
- Ensure textbooks, presentations, and learning resources are available in diverse formats, such as visual aids, written transcripts, and digital formats.
- Implement buddy systems or peer support groups to foster inclusive interactions, promoting understanding and inclusivity.
- Arrange classrooms with suitable acoustics and seating arrangements to optimise communication.
At the Office
- Offer adjustable desks or workstations to accommodate varying needs, including those of employees with hearing impairments.
- Promote email communication or written instructions to supplement verbal instructions, enhancing clarity for all employees.
- Use visual aids like charts, diagrams, or infographics to convey information or instructions effectively.
- Conduct training sessions to educate staff on effective communication strategies when interacting with colleagues with hearing impairments.
- Provide sensitivity training to cultivate an inclusive workplace culture that values and respects the needs of individuals with disabilities.
The Frapp & Capp Coffee Shack, TLC's initiative, is a notable example of championing disability inclusion in workplaces. This initiative, highlighted in the article Frapp & Capp Grand Opening, showcases our commitment to fostering inclusive employment environments.
Understanding and advocating for inclusivity for individuals with hearing impairments is critical. Recognising the diversity within this community and providing tailored support are fundamental steps toward fostering an inclusive society. As we approach the International Day of People with Disability, themed ‘United in action to rescue and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals for, with, and by persons with disabilities’, it’s imperative to emphasise the importance of collective action and collaboration to achieve these goals.
In summary, awareness and inclusivity are key to creating a world where individuals with hearing impairments thrive. As a collective, #WeAllCan stand together in solidarity, championing inclusivity and embracing the diverse strengths and contributions of everyone, especially on this momentous occasion.
- Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership. (n.d.). “Spotlight: Inclusive education - teaching students with disability.” Retrieved from https://www.aitsl.edu.au/.
- JobAccess. (2016). “Accessibility Checklist for Employers.” Retrieved from https://www.jobaccess.gov.au/.
- International Day of People with Disability. (n.d.). About IDPWD. Retrieved from https://www.idpwd.com.au/.