Why can't New York be more like Seattle? New York is a great place to grow old, but it has a way to go before it accommodates those with hearing loss. Read More
I, too, have pondered about the relative lack of hearing accommodation in our fair, but noisy, city when compared with parts of the Midwest and Northwest. A major factor is the relatively small number of hearing impaired New Yorkers who speak up or out on the issue. Regrettably, some probably feel that you can't fight city hall in one of the world's largest cities.
It is also said that many hearing impaired people refuse to get help and many of those who do, and who wear hearing devices, choose not call attention to their hearing deficiency. Unlike people with other physical deficits, people with hearing loss do not stand out or evoke compassion and it is easier to struggle in silence than risk being perceived as a loudmouth or trouble-maker.
For many years, the Americans With Disabilities Act has granted the hearing impaired the right to "equal access." However, unlike lawmakers in Great Britain and Scandinavian countries, where hearing loops have been required by law to be provided in places of public accommodation, our elected officials have preferred more voluntary approaches to the imposition of requirements on the private sector through legislation or regulation.
Anyone wishing to join in advocating for change is invited to join our Hearing Loss Association's Hearing Accommodation Task Force. Just e-mail me at email@example.com.
One thing New York has done -- although I doubt the city had the hearing impaired in mind when it made the change -- is to equip most subway stations and subway cars with LED signs. Signs at the entrance to the station and on the platform say when a train is coming (and which train, and how soon), when or where there is a delay on another part of the system and what alternate route to take.
On the trains themselves, most display the current stop, the next stop, the time and the subway line you're traveling on (in case you forget where you are).
This is a huge advantage for those of us with hearing loss.
A Seattlite... Seattlelite? posted on my home page the following comment, which I thought was worth reposting here.
Seattle is hardly ideal for those who are hearing impaired. I say that and would be happy to learn differently.
We have one auditorium that is looped, the Volney Auditorium at Virginia Mason Medical Center. Also several churches in the area are looped. While most art venues have assistive listening devices there are none that are looped.I am very happy that Town Hall is stepping up to the plate for Ms Bouton's reading and hope to attend. I have stopped attending events at Town Hall because their assistive listening devices have been less than adequate. They have an amplifier with one ear bud. On the other hand Seattle Arts and Lectures need to be commended for their work on the hearing loss issue. They have several lectures/readings that have CART technology and occasionally an ASL interpreter. I attended a beautiful Christmas program by the Seattle Men's Chorus a few years ago and they had the most artistic ASL interpreter that provided an interpretation that was truly choreographed ( an art form in itself). And they did a 'Silent Night' tribute to the deaf that was incredibly touching. Seattle still has a long way to go in accommodating the hard of hearing and deaf communities. We are, however, headed in the right direction.
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Katherine Bouton, a former editor at The New York Times, is the author of Shouting Won't Help: Why I—and 50 Million Other Americans—Can't Hear You.
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