A New Framework for Hard of Hearing and Deafened People in
In the Western world - the United States, Canada, Europe - studies have
indicated that 9-10% of the population is hearing impaired. One to two
tenth of a percent are deaf and the remainder are hard of hearing.
In Israel, research has indicated about the same prevalence of deafness.
In regards to the prevalence of hard of hearingness, there has been no
research. Most workers agree that there is a strong likelihood that the
percentage of hard of hearing people is similar to that in the Western
world. A conservative estimate is that there are about 400,000 hard of
hearing persons in Israel, making it the biggest group of disabled people,
as it is in many other countries.
Hearing loss is caused by a wide variety of causes. However it is also
clearly related to age. In the United States, for instance, it has been
found that in the age group of 18-34 years, 3.4% are hearing impaired;
55-64, 15.4%; and above 65 it reaches 30-35%.
Deafened people are those who grow up with normal hearing but at some
point, either suddenly or gradually, became deaf. Usually they continue to
function orally, as do hard of hearing people, but frequently with great
difficulty, especially at the beginning.
The major problem of hearing loss is, of course, its deleterious effect on
listening and communication skills. Coping with the difficulties that are
created depends on such factors as coping motivation and skills, the
reaction of family, the rehabilitation services that are available and,
very frequently, acquaintance with and support from other hearing impaired
The major aims of the proposed new organization for hard of hearing and
deafened people are to provide some of the services needed by hard of
hearing people, to press for more and better services in the community, to
provide mutual support and to improve interaction and communication
between us and the normally hearing world out there.
Goals of the Organization
1. Professional Services
In Israel there is a network of a public and private audiology clinics.
These clinics diagnose each patient's hearing problem and recommend the
most suitable hearing aid available for his specific needs. Due to the
pressure of work, most of these audiology clinics are unable to adequately
follow up the adjustment of their patients.
The organization's communication therapist will help individuals and small
groups to learn to cope with the difficulties involved while they are
adjusting to their new situation.
This treatment will cover the following areas:
- Guidance on adjusting to the hearing aid;
- Follow up on the use and maintenance of the aid;
- Improving communication skills.
Social Worker's Services
The social worker will assist with personal, social, rehabilition and
- Advice and guidance to individuals and their families;
- Advice and referral in connection with vocational needs.
- Providing contact with various sources which deal with
rehabilitation and vocational needs.
- Improving communication conditions at places of employment of
hearing impaired people.
- Initiate courses for hearing impaired people.
- Improve working conditions for hearing impaired employees. For
example: assuring equal advancement opportunities at work.
- Establish and assist self-help groups throughout the country.
Hearing impairment affects interpersonal and communication skills, causing
difficulties in many cases. A psychologist who specializes in hearing
problems will offer the following services:
- Personal and small group counseling and guidance;
- Guidance to self help groups of hearing impaired people and their
- Referral for additional counseling and treatment if necessary.
- Psychological guidance and support for the staff (social worker,
communication therapist etc.);
Social Activities Organizer
The organizer will offer the following services:
- Organize social events, trips, lectures etc. which will operate under
suitable conditions for hearing impaired people;
- Initiate social groups for interested people (especially those
graduating from the`SHEMA' organization for hearing impaired children and
The first professionals working will probably be the communication
therapist and the social worker. The psychologist and the social
activities organizer will be incorporated as soon as possible, i.e. after
consolidation of the organization.
2. Considerably Expanding the Use of
Hearing Assistance Technologies in Israel
Modern hearing assistance technologies (H.A.T) considerably improves the
listening and communication ability of hard of hearing and deafened
people. The organization will increase the awareness and encourage the use
of H.A.T as much as possible.
We will concentrate on the following activities:
- Development of a center to demonstrate the H.A.T that is now
- Use every means to publicize and to encourage H.A.T use by and for
the hearing impaired people.
- Follow up of world-wide technological developments and bring them
- Encourage development of new H.A.T.
- Initiate and develop systems for lip reading study with computers.
- Making cellular telephone hearing aid compatible.
- Visit homes of hearing impaired people to offer guidance of the use
- Encourage introduction of H.A.T in all public facilities -
theaters, lecture halls, museums, higher education, hospitals, hotels, tourist
sites, retirements homes, etc.
- Establishment and maintenance of an electronic communication
network through Internet for the hard of hearing and deafened community.
- Guidance to the hearing impaired who are learning to use computers,
electronic mail and the possibility of a 'chat' as a telephone substitute.
3. Improvement of Awareness and Public
Public education will be conducted on two levels - for the hard of hearing
and deafened population and for the general public.
Enhanced awareness and public education for the hearing impaired community
will include the following:
- Stressing the rights and needs of hard of hearing and deafened
people - what is required and what is available;
- Reviewing the rights of hard of hearing and deafened people in
- Encourage the use of various hearing assistance technologies;
- Publicizing new technological and medical achievements.
- Publicizing the organization's goals and seeking members.
Public education to the general public all over the country will utilize
all channels: radio, television, newspapers, magazines, leaflets etc. The
following subjects will be dealt with:
- Explaining the nature and implication of hearing loss.
- Increasing awareness of the general public to the needs of hearing
impaired people and explanation as to how to communicate with them.
- Describing the signs of hearing loss in older people so that the
family will understand that the changes they see are due to hearing loss,
which can be helped.
- Urging hearing impaired people to admit their hearing loss and go
for hearing tests.
- Initiating and organizing study days on the subject of hearing
impaired for professional and other service providers such as medical
staff, social workers, bank employees etc.
4. Advocacy for Hard of Hearing and
We will work together with other organizations of and for deaf and hard of
hearing people in Israel to improve the welfare and life satisfaction of
this population. This includes:
- Subtitles - incorporating subtitles in all Hebrew speaking
television programs - to be transmitted by means of teletex. (Naturally other
languages can also appear as required by the Israeli public).
- Amplification in public halls - special FM or infra red
amplification to be installed for the hard of hearing people in theaters, lecture halls,
retirement homes, museums, conferences etc.
- Improvement of the support services offered at all educational
levels: computerized note-taking, subsidized photo copying of other students note
books, special tutoring and preparation of material for teachers on how
to conduct a lesson in such a way that it will be easier for hearing
- Exemption of Television Tax - The current conditions of exemption
- Reduction in taxes for Hearing Assistance Technologies: fax,
computers, assistive listening systems, etc.
5. Operation of Volunteer Groups
Volunteers will do such things as:
- Installation of flashing lights on telephones and entrance doors in
homes of hearing impaired people.
- Presence at audiology clinics in hospitals - to give initial
assistance to hard of hearing and deafened people and to mobilize new
- Clerical work in the Organization's offices.
- Volunteers with ability to contribute from their professional
knowledge to the organization - communication therapists, social workers,
accountants, clerks, secretarial work etc.
6. Other Projects
- Encourage the adoption of "hearing dogs". "Hearing dogs" are
trained to alert their owners when hearing specific sounds, in accordance
with the hearing impaired person
- In our high schools, there is a
special community service project, "Assistance for Others". We would like to
encourage this project to work with hearing impaired people.
For further information, contact: