The lives of the deaf and hard of hearing have tremendously changed in the past decades. Modern technologies have emerged, and new policies have included solutions to further decrease the stress and difficulties of deaf persons around the world. However, there are still some obstacles that have remained.
Internet And Other Devices
The birth of the Internet, tablets, and smartphones has transformed the way people with hearing loss communicate. Speaking and hearing are not always a requirement anymore, particularly in daily activities like ordering food or complaining of a bill. Skype. Face Time, Zoom, and other videoconferencing applications have made it easier for them to understand and learn sign language through remote interpreters and teachers. Still, some challenges continue to persist, such as the need for interpreters for deaf people who don’t have access to the Internet.
Education And Employment
Unlike in the past decades, the deaf community is no longer limited to working in factories and other companies offering hard labor. Unfortunately, although the numbers have largely changed for the better, there are still a lot of deaf persons who are unemployed for discriminatory reasons. In fact, since 2015 up to now, there have been more than 30% of deaf people who remain part-time working jobs. According to Robin E. Perkins-Dock Ph.D and co-authors, “Communication difficulties have been a significant contributor to poor employment rates, and continue to be a primary barrier to job maintenance and advancement for the employee who is deaf.”
Similarly, in the academic aspect, usual schools and colleges seldom provide a system that helps deaf and hard of hearing students survive and thrive. There are also still a low number of institutions that cater only to the deaf community. Recently, there is an estimated 30% of hearing adults that have acquired a bachelor’s degree, while there is only roughly 15% of deaf people do.
This continuing ordeal in the field of education and employment has caused a rise in anxiety, depression, and stress in the deaf community, as evidence-based data has been released that unemployment from this group has been associated with a range of mental health problems, substance abuse, and some chronic illnesses.
Sign Language Issues
It is unknown how many individuals in America use American Sign Language or ASL, but estimates go from 100,000 to a million. Interpreters aid ASL users in interacting with hearing individuals, and it has been a requirement for public schools to offer ASL interpreters to those who need them. Unfortunately, ASL users, like the deaf and the hard of hearing, do not have control over the interpreter that is provided to him, and this issue can affect them and their capacity to communicate or decipher vital information. Alys Young further puts emphasis on it by saying that, “Interpreters are imbued with powers of representation and portrayal of the person.”
Reports say that there are nine out of ten deaf children that are born to parents who can normally heart, but only a third or less have family members who sign up to learn sign language. Some of these family members simply depend on their deaf loved ones to make most of the effort in lip-reading, but in fact, this is significantly difficult to do. This also frequently causes misunderstanding and confusion. In rural areas, on the other hand, deaf children might be the only ones in their school or their neighborhood, making it severely devastating and difficult to establish relationships. “Reduced participation of deaf and hearing impaired individuals in social life leads to a reduction in social adjustment and quality of life,” Guita Movallali, Ph.D. and co-authors explained.
Although it cannot be denied that much has transformed positively for the deaf community through the years, it is still sad to know that stigma, discrimination, and negligence still exist. Deaf and hard of hearing individuals still have much to face – but so do all people who are alive and living today. Thus, the deaf community must not lose hope. And if they, together with the hearing community, work hand in hand in making the world a better place, it will be for all of us.