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date: 21 August 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The last 30 years have seen remarkable innovation in communication technology. People who are deaf or hard of hearing have benefited enormously from new communication products and services. The great strides industry has made in data-processing power, miniaturization, and digitization of previously analog technologies, plus the rapid growth of the Internet, mobile networks, and broadband services have resulted in significant improvement in both visual communication technologies and those designed to restore or enhance hearing. Electronic mail, text messaging, the World Wide Web, and smartphones have altered the communication habits of billions of people, with the result that deaf and hard of hearing people can communicate directly with hearing friends, family, co-workers, and businesses using common technologies. Fast processing in small chips has led to improved hearing aids and cochlear implants. Concurrent with these developments, new public policies have required companies in the communications industries to improve the accessibility of their products.

This chapter describes key developments in a wide range of communication technologies used by deaf and hard-of-hearing people, and concentrates on the 1990s and beyond. The first section of the chapter focuses on visual access to communication technologies, and the second section addresses developments in hearing-related technologies such as hearing aids, cochlear implants, and assistive listening devices.

Keywords: Accessibility, telecommunications relay services, captioning, speech transcription, hearing aids, cochlear implants, assistive listening systems, deaf, hard-of-hearing, hearing loss

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