People with impaired hearing have found they can easily adapt a personal computer for their use. All you need can be found in any good store that sells computers and computer equipment. This is just as important to the hearing impaired as the invention of the telephone. Now people are able to call anybody who has their own computer, chat room, monitor and keyboard. Since the main way the information is being seen is through text, and the main way to communicate is through text, it's easy.
Neither of them need hearing capabilities because they are visual. TDDs or Telecommunication Devices for the Deaf, are a very basic version of this idea with a keyboard and a small printer that prints on paper the size of an adding machine. TDDs usually do not work with computers, but there are some companies coming out with translation software for them. However, most people with computers won't purchase the program unless they have a relative or friend who is deaf.
I once had a conversation with a man who had been hearing impaired most of his life, and he shared a story with me. The man lost his hearing when he was 3 years old. At that time, he focused on learning to read print so his ability to use language remained intact. He uses the computer programs to communicate with other individuals without having to write letters or read lips. He can even perform interviews, like this one, over the telephone. As his experience with TDDs grows, it's easier than ever for him to exchange information with his wife and carry on important business that he couldn't otherwise do.
However, because TDDs are usually restricted to deaf person, this program is not a major aspect in my own life. I am not complaining in the least since these are the first major breakthrough for bringing deaf persons out of electronic exclusion, and the microcomputer is the second one. So this raises the question of whether or not TDDs should even be made compatible with computers.
As of today, getting a computer to interact with TDDs is a hard task. There is a need for special software and hardware accessories. There are plenty of people that have TDDs and the integration will be a slow process, but they won't be going away anytime soon. It's hard for them to get used to spending more time on the microcomputer. In addition, the average price of a TDD is less than $200.
What qualities should the deaf seek in a computer and do they need special equipment or software? It requires nothing beyond an internet connection and the ability to access the web. The man was able to outline a few tips for the deaf and friends of the deaf who are planning to purchase the equipment. One thing would be that buying the modem should be the first peripheral, even before getting printer. He also advises the use of a lap top computer if it is a good price which can even be used as a primary computer.
CB radios may be used in an emergency if the user is willing to make a voice call on behalf of the deaf person. While this is purely speculative, it would probably take a bit of persuasion to make CB people understand their earnestness. On a more practical level, I've been told there are new bulletin board networks in various cities that are being set up experimentally. This is a wonderful idea, as it will help people who have traded their TDDs have access to information and emergency help if needed.
I have also heard about lap computers being attached to speech synthesizers, but have very little information concerning them. It's possible, but if the synthesizer could be attached to a phone, it would be a better. But it raises the question of how is a hearing impaired person going to know if they get a response on the phone? Because deaf people are not disabled in a way that can hold them back from using a PC, the job market for the deaf in regards to working on computers is growing each day. Some of the best jobs for someone who is hearing impaired would be data processing, programming, or word processing, where there is no need for phone interaction.
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