The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that 8.6 percent of all Americans are hard of hearing or are deaf. Using this percentage for the Commonwealth’s citizenry, per the most recent (2010) U.S. census data, approximately 563,000 Massachusetts residents have varying degrees of hearing loss, ranging from mild to profound deafness.
The Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (MCDHH) serves persons who are deaf and hard of hearing, as well as their families, parents, community groups, and schools. MCDHH also provides free educational in-service training to organizations, agencies, and businesses seeking to improve their interactions with people who are hard of hearing or are deaf.
Communication Access, Training and Technology Services (CATT)
The Communication Access, Training and Technology Services (CATT) program provides the public information on all MCDHH services, which include:
- Updates on state and federal laws and legislation;
- Sign language;
- Speech reading classes;
- Communication access;
- Assistive technology;
- Programs and support services for people who are deaf and hard of hearing;
- Substance abuse services;
- Mental health services; and,
- Schools and summer camps.
Assistive Listening Systems (ALS)
Assistive Listening Systems (ALS) are used to improve hearing in a variety of situations, such as while watching television and listening to the radio or other audio devices, as well as to make speech through public address systems clearer. A variety of ALS devices and listening attachments are available; ALS systems are tailored for each individual.
Financing a Hearing Aid Purchase
Financial assistance for hearing aids is offered through government agencies, non-profits, and by private foundations. Eligibility for assistance varies depending on financial need, age, and other eligibility requirements as determined by each organization. Insurance against loss and accidental damage of hearing aids is also available.
Hearing Ear Dogs
A hearing ear dog is a trained service animal that assists an individual who is deaf or is hard of hearing by alerting them to important sounds such as doorbells, smoke alarms, ringing telephones, and alarm clocks. These dogs can also draw attention to sirens or someone calling their handler’s name. Training a service dog can be expensive, but civic and community service organizations may assist with the costs.
Screening Newborns’ Hearing
The Massachusetts Legislature mandates a hearing screening for all newborns in the Commonwealth. These screenings can detect possible hearing loss in the first days of a baby’s life, and early intervention can have a dramatic and positive impact on speech, language, and the overall development of a child.
Requesting an American Sign Language (ASL) Interpreter
Through the Interpreter and Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) referral service, American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters provide services to those with partial or complete hearing loss, as well as organizations, schools, businesses, and other groups. More than 25,000 requests for sign language interpreters are handled by CART every year; these can be made online, by calling (617) 740-1600, or by fax.
A qualified ASL interpreter has completed professional training and holds earned certification. Interpreters referred through MCDHH carry an identification card verifying certification from the national Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID). Alternatively, they will carry an identification card verifying participation in MCDHH’s screening process.
Do you use the services offered by MCDHH?
Comment below or tweet us at @MassGov and let us know how they work for you.
Tags: Assistive Listening Systems (ALS), Communication Access, Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART), deaf, Financing a Hearing Aid Purchase, hard of hearing, Hearing Ear Dogs, Massachusetts Services for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, mental health services, Requesting an American Sign Language (ASL) Interpreter, Screening Newborns’ Hearing, sign language, speech reading classes, substance abuse services, Training and Technology Services (CATT)