ROCKVILLE, Md., April 26, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — With one in seven Americans currently experiencing hearing loss, and the World Health Organization (WHO) predicting global numbers to double by 2050, the need for new technologies that support communication, work, and daily life is growing. However, these products and services are often developed without input from individuals with hearing loss who use them. To address this issue, a new online program called the Industry-Consumer Alliance for Accessible Technology (ICAAT) has been created.
ICAAT aims to facilitate communication and collaboration between industry representatives and consumers with hearing loss, enabling better technology development from the ground up. For the first time, industry representatives can enlist consumers in product research and testing and learn more about their accessibility needs. Consumers can participate in discussion groups and share their experiences. Gallaudet University, American Institutes for Research (AIR), and the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) developed ICAAT, and it is accessible at allianceforaccess.org.
ICAAT is timely, given the potential of technological advancements to provide better access for all, including individuals with hearing loss. Mainstream automatic speech recognition for captioning, over-the-counter hearing aids available for direct purchase by consumers, and new wireless connectivity options for audio streaming are some of the innovations on the horizon.
“Technology can help people with hearing loss stay engaged and connected in their job, with their families, and in life,” said Barbara Kelley, executive director of HLAA. “HLAA represents consumers and works with industry. A program like ICAAT that brings both sides together is a win-win that will enhance innovation and change the lives of millions of people with hearing loss.”
According to Kathleen Murphy, Managing Researcher at AIR, “Hearing loss is a ‘hidden’ disability that can be isolating. The number of people who would benefit from hearing-accessible products is growing. Supporting dialogue between them and industry, as well as among each other, is a great opportunity for all.”
Dr. Christian Vogler, director of the Deaf/Hard of Hearing Technology Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center (DHH Technology RERC) at Gallaudet University, said, “You’re at a competitive disadvantage if your products aren’t accessible to people with hearing loss. Our vision is to make products accessible from the beginning. ICAAT helps industry achieve this by collaborating directly with consumers.”
ICAAT received a grant from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research (grant number 90REGE0013). Visit allianceforaccess.org for more information.
The Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) is the leading voice of the growing number of people with hearing loss in the U.S. HLAA advocates for increased access to care and treatment, breaking down stigmas through education and awareness, and empowering people with hearing loss through a nationwide support network. HLAA’s work impacts millions, improving the lives of people with hearing loss and elevating the importance of hearing health and accessible communication through national legislation and public policy, as well as a network of chapters and state organizations. The Walk4Hearing events raise awareness and funds in cities across the country and bring hope to individuals and families dealing with hearing loss. For more information, visit hearingloss.org.
Established in 1946 with headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, the American Institutes for Research® (AIR) is a nonpartisan, not-for-profit organization that conducts behavioral and social science research and delivers technical assistance to solve some of the most urgent challenges in the U.S. and around the world. AIR advances evidence in the areas of education, health, the workforce, human services, and international development to create a better, more equitable world.
ABOUT GALLAUDET UNIVERSITY
Gallaudet University is a federally chartered institution of higher education that was founded in 1864. It is a bilingual, diverse, and multicultural university that is committed to advancing the intellectual and professional development of Deaf, hard of hearing, and Deafblind individuals through American Sign Language and English. The university offers more than 40 undergraduate majors and numerous masters and doctoral programs, enrolling over 1,600 students. Gallaudet University is also involved in research across various fields, including accessible technology, Deaf history and culture, Black Deaf history and culture, brain imaging, educational neuroscience, education, linguistics, and psychology. To learn more about Gallaudet University, please visit their website at gallaudet.edu.