Hello, I am Jennifer Coyle, Research Associate at Western Michigan University and Technical Assistance Coordinator for the National Secondary Technical Assistance Center. Due to the number of emails and comments on yesterday’s post, this is a follow up to Creating Presentations Potent for All with tips specific to presenting to people who may have hearing loss. Many people with hearing impairments do not like to identify themselves, therefore it is difficult to approximate the number. Knowing this increases the importance of creating presentations that are hearing impaired friendly.
- Your audience is likely to include those with hearing loss.
- In 2011, John Hopkins reported 20% of the US population aged 12 years and older has hearing difficulties severe enough to impact communication.
- The Department of Veterans Affairs says about 60% of deployed military service men and women have noise induced hearing loss (NIHL), tinnitus (ringing in the ear), and other hearing injuries.
- Millions wear hearing aids.
- Emphasize hear-ability: Look at your audience while speaking and speak loudly.
- Don’t assume that just because you can’t see any hearing aids no one in your audience is hard of hearing. In fact, many people who have aging-related hearing loss may not be fully aware of their hearing loss. It’s your job as presenter to make sure everyone hears the presentation and any questions that are asked.
- Close the doors to eliminate exterior noises.
- Use local resources.
- See the ADA coordinator or the event location’s facilities management to ask about assistive hearing devices. Some facilities have headphones, t-coil capabilities that broadcast directly into some hearing aids through the PA system, and other assistive hearing devices.
- Emphasize understandability: Remain visible.
- Many with hearing loss read lips or gain information from non-verbal cues.
- As a presenter, keep in well-lit areas.
- Audience members who are intent on watching you may be reading your lips.
- Do not turn your back to the audience. If you need to read your slides, read from a laptop or notes in front of you with lips visible to the audience.
- Emphasize understandability: Articulate and enunciate clearly.
- Speak clearly into the microphone.
- Repeat questions asked from the audience for all to hear.
- Emphasize readability: Use words on presentation screens.
- Use closed captioning when possible.
- Use words with images.
- Use visual cues to gain attention (i.e. blinking screen)
- Handouts may be critical especially for those with hidden disabilities.
- Distribute handouts before you present this especially assists those have hearing loss.
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