Veterans With Hearing Loss
Twenty percent (20%) of Americans have a hearing loss. MT&A’s business primarily serves sign language users. We also, however, consult with businesses to guide them on the most appropriate services for their consumers’ needs. This may include veterans.
Most people think of older relatives or sign language users when they think of people who are Deaf or hard of hearing. They typically do not think of military veterans of all ages. Military.com states that hearing loss, most commonly referred to as tinnitus, is the number one disability among veterans. According to military.com, “Over 150,000 veterans were diagnosed with tinnitus in 2015 and nearly 1.5 million veterans are currently receiving disability benefits for it.” We also need to consider the modes our veterans prefer when we consider equal access to communication. It may not be the same as culturally Deaf individuals (which is usually a sign language interpretation).
Culturally Deaf individuals often fight for equal access to communication for everyday activities we take for granted. What if you just wanted to watch “Mary Poppins” with your child? Theaters are often reluctant to show movies with open captioning. Like closed captioning, open captioning provides equal access to communication in a movie theater environment. It is a common challenge for Deaf consumers in Missouri. You can see from the video below that it is also an issue in West Michigan. This is likely true in many communities in the United States. The video is a story, posted August 15, 2016, regarding a lawsuit that occurred because a theater refused to provide “equal” access to their movies. Veterans fight for their lives and our freedom. Then they come home to fight for their rights to communication access. Watch an example of cinemas being sued for not providing access.
State Board of Interpreters
Even if you are not a native sign language user, though sign language is fun, you have the right to equal access to communication. Our president, Shelly Tisius, serves on the Missouri Board of Certification for Sign Language Interpreters (BCI) with the Missouri Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (MCDHH). Shelly sees firsthand the passion and dedication that MCDHH possess in serving all Missourians with a hearing loss, regardless of when the hearing loss occurred. Each state is likely to have a similar commission. So check with your state to find out more. If you’re in Missouri, contact MCDHH and see how they can help you.
Laws to Accommodate
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal law that protects all Americans with disabilities. There is a section (Title II, Section 504) referring to equal access to communication and hearing loss. This section is vague on the actual mandatory accommodation. This allows you to determine what accommodation you require. For example, a culturally Deaf individual who does not have English as their first language may request a sign language interpreter for their needs. A Veteran with a full grasp of English, on the other hand, may request CART services.
For a veteran or for anyone wanting to assist a veteran, please reach out to us to help make hearing loss easier to live with.
Lastly, THANK YOU to all our veterans and active military who serve for our freedom. THANK YOU also to their families for letting them provide their service.