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Hearing-impaired individuals face many challenges in their lives. One of the biggest hurdles often confronted by this portion of the population is the inability to communicate with hearing individuals. This can be especially challenging when it comes to seeking therapy, especially in a world where a limited number of people in the mental health field have taken it upon themselves to learn how to communicate with the deaf and hearing-impaired.|
However, more and more mental health professionals are becoming specialized in counseling for the deaf, using American Sign Language (ASL) and other assistive technology to communicate during counseling sessions.
ASL is a manual language, which means that the information is expressed not with combinations of sounds as in speaking, but with combinations of hand shapes, movements of the hands, arms and body, and facial expressions. It is used natively and predominantly by the deaf and hearing-impaired of the United States and Canada.
American Sign Language has become increasingly popular in the mainstream, with many schools offering classes or clubs to those who wish to learn. A number of colleges have also made the decision to accept ASL courses as fulfillment for foreign language credits.
Though many professionals have picked up the challenge of providing therapy for deaf and hearing impaired individuals by learning to communicate through sign language, this special population is still quite underserved.
Those who do not wish to use ASL to communicate can be assisted by a number of other technological devices such as amplified speech telephone products, personal speech amplifiers, and TDDs (telecommunication devices for the deaf) that use regular telephone lines.
The TDD consists of a keyboard with about 20-30 characters, a display screen, and a modem. The letters typed by the user are converted into electrical signals that travel over telephone lines and are converted back to letters when received on the other end. The use of the TDD, much like the use of ASL, has done much to further communication with the hearing-impaired population, allowing them to reach out for services that will improve their quality of life.
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