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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:

Siegfried-Karg

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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  • Cheri Hyatt Perazzoli

    Most people who need communication access do not know ASL. The laws support access to Effective Communication which include: 1. Access to Audible communication via assistive listening technology such as ‪#‎hearingloops‬ 2. Access to Audible communication via visual technology such as ‪#‎Captionthis‬ and 3. Access to Audible communication via interpreter services such as ASL.

    This article misses the opportunity to educate the larger community about the vast spectrum of hearing loss, and the variety of accommodations that are needed to include all people. It’s very disappointing for everyone to request accommodations and to show up to discover the accommodations you’ve requested won’t meet your needs because the accommodation provided is an ASL interpreter… because well if you are hard of hearing, wouldn’t you know ASL?

    Critical information must be exchanged in routine day to day situations such as healthcare; hospitals, doctor’s offices and pharmacy counters and in transport; ticket counters transport vehicles, thus effective communication is needed for the full spectrum of hearing loss, not only for those who communicate via ASL. Let’s take the opportunity to make our voice heard by advocating for the variety of access needs– for the full spectrum of people who need effective communication access: people who are hard of hearing, deaf and Deaf.

  • Cheri Hyatt Perazzoli

    This was the post I added to FB following the NYT article. Kudos to Sigfried Karg for his eloquent response to the NYT!!