Tips to help hearing-impaired enjoy holidays

Holidays can be stressful for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. Background noise and crowded rooms make communication that much tougher.

Iowa School for the Deaf has offered the following tips when interacting with hearing-impaired friends or family members during the holiday season, and for any time there is a large gathering of people:

– Hearing aids also amplify sounds such as passing cars, telephones and even sounds from household appliances. Eliminate as much background noise as possible.

– Avoid sitting in front of windows or mirrors. They reflect light, and make it harder to read lips or expressions.

– Get the person’s attention before starting the communication. Be aware that people with hearing loss work hard to understand conversations and tire easily.

– Alert the deaf or hard-of-hearing person when the conversation topic changes. Try to conduct one conversation at a time.

– Pre-teach a game that doesn’t require a lot of conversation to the deaf or hard-of-hearing child or adult. Bring the game so all can play.

– Use closed captioning on the television. It may be distracting to you, but the entertainment will be of little or no benefit to the deaf or hard-of-hearing person without the captions.

– Open gifts one at a time and announce the gift recipient as well as the gift giver.

– Text, even if you are sitting beside the deaf person with whom you are texting. Allow texting to be used at the holiday dinner for the benefit of the deaf or hard-of-hearing person. Have pen and paper available for a back-up or when texting is not an option.

– Stay close to the deaf or hard-of-hearing person with whom you are communicating. Break into smaller tables for more manageable conversation.

– When the person asks you to repeat an aside, repeat it. The comment may not be important to the conversation, but if you don’t repeat it, the deaf or hard-of-hearing person may think you don’t feel he or she is important enough to repeat the comment.

Iowa School for the Deaf is a referral-based pre-kindergarten through 12th grade educational option for students who are deaf or hard-of-hearing. No tuition, board or fees are charged. Day and boarding programs are available.


Successful Loveland program aids deaf students

Six-year-old Jordy Homack walked into Room 3 at Monroe Elementary School and jumped into Katrina Robertson’s lap.

The eyes of the two girls lit up, and they started communicating with American Sign Language.

Jordy asked Robertson, an 11th-grader at Loveland High School, about her cochlear implant, pointing to her own ear.

Marsha Dorr, one of Jordy’s teachers, said Jordy, who is deaf and nonverbal, is uncomfortable wearing the implant but thinks it’s “cool” to see an older student wearing one.

She sees that she is not the only one with hearing loss, she said.

Jordy is part of an after-school group for elementary-age students who are deaf or hard of hearing.

“When they come into this room, they’re the norm,” said Dorr, who works with deaf and hard-of-hearing students in preschool and grades K-5.

Eight students are in the group, which meets for two hours twice a month to do crafts, take field trips, work on communication skills and connect with high school students who went through Dorr’s hearing program while they were in elementary school.

“She developed an environment here where the kids feel like they have a home, a place they belong,” said Kim Miller, district audiologist. “It gives the kids a place to be themselves.”

On Thursday, students and staffers wore Santa hats while they made hand-print wreaths, ornaments and cards and frosted sugar cookies for a holiday party, working at different centers set up at tables in the classroom.

Dorr started off the nearly two-hour program by introducing the plans for the afternoon, followed by Happy-Sad, an activity in which the older and younger students describe a good event and not-so-good event from the previous week.

“It’s fun,” said Casey Latulip, a fourth-grader at Monroe. “You get to at least take a couple things home and share with your family.”

Dorr piloted the high school mentoring program this year to help her students realize they are not the only ones wearing a hearing aid or cochlear implant, she said.

“I think it definitely builds their self-esteem and confidence,” Dorr said.

The older students provide an example of how to stand up for themselves in the classroom, Dorr said.

“They become role models to the younger students,” Dorr said.

Robertson, who wants to become a preschool teacher, said she identifies with the younger students.

“I can help the kids work on what they need and (help them) improve their signing,” she said.


Deaf moviegoers sue Cinemark theater chain

BERKELEY, Calif. – Deaf moviegoers are suing Cinemark, claiming the movie theater chain is denying them access to films by refusing to install closed captioning devices.

Berkeley, Calif.-based Disability Rights Advocates filed the lawsuit Tuesday in Alameda County Superior Court on behalf of two plaintiffs and the Association of Late-Deafened Adults. It seeks class-action status.

Kevin Knestrick, an attorney for the plaintiffs, says Cinemark Holdings Inc. is the only one of the nation’s three largest movie chains not to offer closed-captioning equipment. Regal Entertainment Group and AMC Entertainment Inc. provide captioning, though not at all hours and in all theaters.

The lawsuit asks for unspecified damages and an order requiring Plano, Texas-based company to install the captioning devices.

A call to Cinemark was not immediately returned. View original article here: