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Rev. Siegfried Karg sent a letter to the editor of The New York Times in response to Deaf and Hard of Hearing Fight to Be Heard by Daniel Krieger. Unfortunately, the Times did not publish it. We are posting Siegfried’s letter here, with his permission.

To the Editor:

As a recent subscriber to The New York Times, I was thrilled to read the title “Deaf and Hard of Hearing Fight to be Heard” on March 25, 2016. However, after reading the text I was disappointed to see that the author mentions Hard of Hearing People in the title, but fails to include them in his text. Only 1% of deaf people use sign language as their usual means of communication. For hard of hearing people, who comprise the other 99% of people with hearing loss, sign language is just like a foreign language.

CART (Communication Access Real-time Translation) and Audio-Frequency Induction Loop Systems (“hearing loops”) help hard of hearing people compensate for their hearing loss. Even with the assistance of hearing aids, cochlear implants, and lip-reading hard of hearing people still struggle, especially in conversations with a lot of background noise, reverberation, or great distance to the sound source. The microphones of hearing aids or cochlear implants work fine up to a distance of 8 feet. In large venues such as auditoriums, theaters, cinemas, places of worship, etc. hearing loops are imperative for speech intelligibility.

Please do not reduce the large number of hard of hearing people to the just 1% who use sign language. Sign language is visible. The disability of hearing loss is largely invisible. Being “hard of hearing” still carries a stigma in our society, causing some to disguise their hearing technology because they are afraid of the reactions of others. If the ADA is to be implemented the needs of the 99% cannot be ignored.

If people are interested in the daily struggles of hard of hearing people, I recommend three excellent books, written by hard of hearing women and published recently:


About Rev. Siegfried Karg

Rev. Siegfried Karg, Pastor, born 1946, presenter and book author, lives in Winterthur, Switzerland. Theological studies, Fellow at Institute for Social Ethics University of Zurich. Vice President European Federation of Hard of Hearing People EFHOH (2002-2010), convener of the First International Hearing Loop Conference in Winterthur, Switzerland in 2009, pro bono President of Hearing Loss Association (Pro Audito) Winterthur (1993-2015).

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