Did you know that about 466 million people worldwide suffer from hearing disabilities? In fact, the American subcontinent has more than 15% of the population suffering from deafness, hearing loss, and hard of hearing. So as a business person, your website, marketing tools, and strategies should have accessibility and reach out to all potential customers, including those with disabilities, especially deaf and hard hearing.
Besides, having an accessible site attracts potential deaf customers and promotes your company positively. It indicates that you know their problem and want to make their lives less complicated.
Your site must fulfill multiple ADA and WCAG requirements to become ADA-compliant and accessible to individuals suffering from disabilities. These requirements ensure users suffering from blindness, hearing loss, and other cognitive disorders can easily navigate and use your website.
So here are a few tips to follow to design your website so that it’s accessible for the deaf and hearing impaired.
What is the meaning of hearing impairments?
According to the National Association of Hearing Impaired, a hearing impairment depends on the person’s degree of hearing and relative age of onset.
There are three main types of hearing impairments:
- The Deaf with ‘capital D’ who communicate using sign language was deaf for most of their lives
- The deaf with ‘lowercase d’ who usually became deaf later in life
- Hard of hearing (HoH) relates to people with some but not complete hearing loss due to conditions like conductive hearing loss, tinnitus, and perceptive deafness.
Health issues like hypertension, depression, and diabetes can also trigger hearing impairments. Besides, it’s not just the older demographic; even many children suffer from partial or total hearing loss.
Tips to improve web accessibility for the deaf and hard of hearing users
Here are some tips that help improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing people:
1. Provide multiple contact options
Don’t just provide a phone number on your website, as deaf people cannot hear well on the phone. Offer other means of contact and communication like email, skype, live web chat, or online forms.
2. Add subtitles/captions to video content
Many hard-of-hearing people cannot hear videos. So make sure your video content has subtitles or accurate captions, including descriptions of non-spoken sounds like cheer, rain, and laughter.
For example, free automated video captioning is now relatively accurate. However, it’s always better to check and confirm that the lines show as the user views the audio.
You can also consider providing a written transcript or sign language videos too.
3. Use plain English
Many deaf people have English as their second language. So use simple English and short sentences, and always be to the point. Avoid using jargon and words your target community may not speak. You can also use images to illustrate the topic.
4. Easy navigation
Design your website so that the hearing impaired can easily navigate it to reach and access the required information within a few clicks. You could also include a search button on the page.
5. Proper content structure
The clearer the web page structure is, the easier it is for the hearing impaired to understand things. So use proper headings, paragraphs, and lists to format your content and article.
HTML mainly provides flexible and scalable website development while helping assistive devices gain value.
6. Have hearing aids
The deaf and hard of hearing can turn to assistive technologies to help them interpret visual web content and speech. For example, they use amplified telephones, caption phones, TTY (software and hardware), a warning system, or text-to-911.
These assistive listening devices provide additional sound feed to the hearing impaired. They also prove helpful when you don’t want to hear disturbing sounds.
7. Review captions
Remember that humans don’t automate video captioning. So while they are usually accurate, the captions sometimes don’t filter inappropriate words like expletive words.
So make sure you review or edit your automated captions before use.
8. Summarize audio and video content
Audio and video content summaries are as crucial as captions and transcripts. The description needs only be an overview or song that the video contains for the hearing impaired to understand better or appreciate.
9. Create flexible content
Mobile technology like an iPhone or Apple Watch is a game-changer for the deaf. These devices prove helpful in navigation and suitably curating information.
Your content, however, should be flexible enough for users to access. It should let users enlarge content using screen magnifiers and render using screen readers.
Your content this way benefits the deaf, hard of hearing, and users with other disabilities.
How do I make my website accessible for the hearing impaired?
How can you improve the accessibility of your website for a person with an auditory disability?
You can do a few things to improve your website accessibility standards for people with auditory disabilities. You could provide captions to videos, and text transcripts for audio content, and ensure the website is keyboard-accessible.
Which method is commonly used to aid video accessibility for hard-of-hearing people?
The most commonly used method to help with video accessibility for the hard of hearing- written subtitles for videos and transcriptions of audio content.
What is the best app for the hearing impaired?
The best app for the hearing impaired is Roger Voice.
Help with all your accessibility needs
Not everyone with a hearing impairment needs or uses a hearing aid to amplify sounds. However, making your website accessible helps those with severe hearing problems and minor hearing loss.
Enhanced website accessibility also leads to more clients, contracts, and revenues for your organization. It also leads to less confusion, and frustration and is a solution for people with disabilities.
However, you have to design your industry site to comply with section 508 and WCAG guidelines requirements. You risk facing website compliance lawsuits if your site isn’t accessible.
Besides, the Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in properties serving the general public.
We at ADA Website Compliance can help prevent this from happening. Our services include designing and building accessible websites for legal compliance and ensuring your site is accessible to everybody.
You can either design your website hardware and software with people with disabilities in mind or retrofit existing technology to make your website accessible.
Reach out to our experts for additional information about web accessibility features for your business website. And how we can help make internet searches easier for your user with a hearing disability.
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The ADA prohibits any private businesses that provide goods or services to the public, referred to as “public accommodations,” from discriminating against those with disabilities. Federal courts have ruled that the ADA includes websites in the definition of public accommodation. As such, websites must offer auxiliary aids and services to low-vision, hearing-impaired, and physically disabled persons, in the same way a business facility must offer wheelchair ramps, braille signage, and sign language interpreters, among other forms of assistance.
All websites must be properly coded for use by electronic screen readers that read aloud to sight-impaired users the visual elements of a webpage. Additionally, all live and pre-recorded audio content must have synchronous captioning for hearing-impaired users.
Websites must accommodate hundreds of keyboard combinations, such as Ctrl + P to print, that people with disabilities depend on to navigate the Internet.
Litigation continues to increase substantially. All business and governmental entities are potential targets for lawsuits and demand letters. Recent actions by the Department of Justice targeting businesses with inaccessible websites will likely create a dramatic increase of litigation risk.
Big box retailer Target Corp. was ordered to pay $6 million – plus $3.7 million more in legal costs – to settle a landmark class action suit brought by the National Federation of the Blind. Other recent defendants in these cases have included McDonald’s, Carnival Cruise Lines, Netflix, Harvard University, Foot Locker, and the National Basketball Association (NBA). Along with these large companies, thousands of small businesses have been subject to ADA website litigation.
Defendants in ADA lawsuits typically pay plaintiff's legal fees, their own legal fees for defending the litigation, and potential additional costs. In all, the average cost can range from tens of thousands of dollars, to above six figures. There are also high intangible costs, such as added stress, time and human capital, as well as reputational damage. Furthermore, if the remediation is incomplete, copycat suits and serial filers can follow, meaning double or triple the outlay. It's vital to implement a long-term strategy for ensuring your website is accessible and legally compliant.