In today’s world, technology has great potential to make it easier for persons living with disabilities to participate in the body of Christ. That potential can be compromised, however, if congregations overlook the problems technology can present for people who hear less well than the average.
Sometimes the term hard of hearing is used to describe people who have a mild to moderate hearing loss.
The needs of people with a mild to moderate hearing loss are different from the needs of persons who have little or no hearing, who are usually described by the word deaf
(see our resources for the Deaf
Best practices for including those with hearing loss
Suggested practices that enhance participation for people who are hard of hearing include:
- Regular use of a public address system for group gatherings
- A roving microphone used by all speakers who offer sharing, prayer requests, announcements, etc., If a roving microphone is not available, the leader can repeat comments using the podium microphone as an adequate alternative.
Assistive Listening Devices (ALD) provided for use in worship or
meetings. Ushers and others can be educated on the location of ALDs and how to assist persons wishing to use them.
- The Induction Loop or hearing loop is an alternate innovation for hearing assistance, far more effective than the ALD. It delivers a magnetic signal directly to a tiny, inexpensive receiver in a person’s hearing aid. Hearing aid users activate the "telecoil" (T-coil) receptor within their hearing aid simply by pushing a button. A loop system reduces background noise and greatly clarifies the sound heard by the listener. HearingLoop.org. Introductory article.
- Proper lighting of speakers so that persons who rely on speech reading (also called “lip reading”) can see the speaker's face.
- Implement captioning, especially for larger events or videos.
Resources from others
Additional information on resources for hearing inclusion are available from the Congregational Accessibility Network (CAN).
HearingLoop.org. The case for hearing loops as the preferred assistive listening system for persons with hearing loss.