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An occupational perspective for the development of universal hearing accessibility: Implications for health professionals and consumers
SSO:USA Annual Research Conference
  • Daniel Fok
  • Lynn Shaw
  • Mary Beth Jennings
  • Margaret Cheesman
Start Time
27-10-2007 9:30 AM
End Time
27-10-2007 11:00 AM
Hearing loss is the most prevalent and fastest growing sensory-related chronic disability in North America. The prevalence of hearing loss increases with age and is becoming more of a problem for older workers in workplaces and for seniors who use public or community buildings. A technological approach comprised of personal hearing instruments such as hearing aids and cochlear implants are typically used to accommodate individuals. However, a technological approach does not consistently consider the realm of occupations conducted in public spaces nor does it adequately address the diverse needs of individuals and groups for community participation. Thus, many places in the built environment still impede the choices and participation of persons aging with hearing loss in work, daily and social occupations. Traditionally, accessibility and universal design guidelines for the built environment address physical access for individuals with mobility impairments. Individuals that are hard of hearing, who may or may not use personal hearing instruments, face relatively fewer barriers gaining physical access to public buildings. However, they face greater obstacles in gaining information and communication access and usability (ICAU) in the built environment. More efforts are needed to understand how the built environment might create more hearing accessible public spaces to include the equitable participation in occupations and in society for all individuals. An interdisciplinary group of researchers, health professionals and consumers, comprised of hearing and occupational scientists met to investigate this problem. Researchers critiqued the hearing and built environment literature for trends and evidence on creating hearing friendly spaces and then used a critical occupational perspective to review and develop a more holistic set of universal design for hearing (UDH) guidelines. These new guidelines were then tested for coherence and applicability in different public places by researchers and consumers. In this paper, the process of developing and testing these guidelines along with the potential implications for audiologists, architects, acoustic engineers, ergonomists and occupational therapists will be shared. Participants will be invited to engage in a dialogue on practice implications, improving hearing accessibility in public places and to offer insights into the future research of the universal design guidelines.
Citation Information
Daniel Fok, Lynn Shaw, Mary Beth Jennings and Margaret Cheesman. "An occupational perspective for the development of universal hearing accessibility: Implications for health professionals and consumers" (2007)
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