Continuing Education Units
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How many deaf and hard of hearing people are there in Texas?
No census of deaf and hard of hearing people has ever been carried out in the state of Texas, primarily due to the cost of such a monumental effort. The Summary Health Statistics for U.S. Adults: National Health Interview Survey, 2005, (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics) found that overall, 17 percent of adults 18 years of age and over experienced some hearing difficulty without a hearing aid (defined as "a little trouble," "a lot of trouble," or "deaf"). Men were more likely to have experienced hearing trouble than were women.
Based on figures from the 2005 National Health Interview Survey and 2005 U.S. Census Bureau population figures for Texas, the total service population in 2005 was estimated to be more than 3.8 million people.
Is there any financial assistance available to cover the cost of college education for a person who is deaf or hard of hearing?
The Certificate of Deafness for Tuition Waiver (CODTW) is a state of Texas program available to people who have an unaided 55 dB (or aided 30 dB) average or greater loss in their better ear based on the average at 500, 1000, 2000 and 4000 Hertz. The application requires an audiogram to be provided that represents the current hearing loss though there is no time limit on older audiograms. For those who do not quite meet this requirement there are alternative eligibility options which allow for less than 55 dB (unaided) or 30 dB (aided) when the speech discrimination score is less than 50 percent. Additionally, there is a verifying statement of "functional deafness" that a physician can complete and sign to provide another alternate method of meeting the eligibility criteria.
The CODTW is good for tuition and tuition-based fees at state supported colleges and universities. The CODTW cannot be used at private colleges/universities, proprietary schools or out of state schools. Click here to print a CODTW application.
Vocational Rehabilitation Services also may be a financial assistance resource for eligible persons who have a vocational handicap to employment due to their disability. Please be aware that not all persons with a disability have a vocational handicap. Click here to find the closest VR Services office.
Is there someone in my area who knows about deafness and hearing loss issues who can help me?
Texas Health and Human Services has 26 deaf and hard of hearing services specialists located across the state available to help you. These specialists can provide hearing loss information and advocacy assistance to people who are deaf or hard of hearing, as well as refer consumers to other sources of assistance.
The specialists also can work with service providers who need information about making their services accessible to persons who are deaf/hard of hearing and can also be a resource to the parents and family members of persons who are deaf/hard of hearing. All the Specialist project offices have toll free numbers for persons who live outside their immediate area. You can also contact them via their email. Find the specialist serving your area.
What financial assistance is there to buy telephone equipment for persons who are deaf or hard of hearing?
The Specialized Telecommunication Assistance Program (STAP) is a voucher program that can assist with buying telephone equipment to access telephone services for residents of Texas who have a disability (not limited to hearing loss) which limits their ability to use the telephone. The program can be accessed once every five years for equipment. The application can be printed from the STAP website
Do I need to buy a TTY in order to be in compliance with the ADA, Sections 504 and/or 508?
No. If you are buying a TTY in order to be in compliance, the purchase may not meet the criteria in order to be in compliance. Purchasing one TTY for a large, medium or even small office might get a person who is deaf to the front desk receptionist but how will they speak to the person with whom they really need to speak? For compliance purposes multiple purchases of TTYs would be necessary. For offices that seldom receive TTY calls this is not cost effective methodology. HHS' Office for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services suggests that businesses and agencies make use of the myriad of free relay options and service providers available. In Texas one way to make a call to a TTY user without benefit of having a TTY yourself is to dial 7-1-1 and make contact with a Relay Texas agent who will dial your TTY number and relay the conversation back and forth for you. The service is free and open 24/7/365 (http://www.puc.state.tx.us/relaytexas/Overview.aspx).
Above we mention a "myriad" of relay options and service providers. Relay Texas is one provider of "text" relay. This can be done from a phone or from the Internet, including many wireless devices (which is then called, "IP Relay"). IP Relay providers are numerous. Another very popular relay option is Video Relay. With this option there is no typing and waiting for an agent to read back what is being typed to you. With Video Relay the person who is deaf sits in front of a monitor and watches a real-time interpreter interpret your conversation. The service is almost seamless and this type of call takes about the same amount of time as any other business call. As with all relay services there is never a charge and they are open 24/7/365.
When advertising that your business or agency is "deaf/hard of hearing and speech impaired" friendly, DHHS suggests you use the following language after or below your regular telephone number: "For people who are deaf, hard of hearing and/or speech impaired, please use the relay option of your choice to do business with us." When calling you, relay users will let you know which relay option and which provider they prefer to use and how to initiate a relay call back to them.
Video Remote Interpreting
Are there any limitations to VRI (Video Remote Interpreting)?
VRI is new to the industry of providing communication access for persons who are deaf/severely hard of hearing who use sign language as their primary mode of communication. The National Association for the Deaf recently published its own article about the aspects of VRI.