Culturally Deaf, oral deaf, deafened, and hard of hearing Canadians have been waiting for Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to announce a decision for development, funding and implementation of national bilingual Video Relay Services (VRS). Given that the preferred primary language of many Deaf and hard of hearing Canadians is visual, VRS gives them access to telecommunication services and enables them to engage in communication in a manner that is functionally equivalent to other telephone customers.
The critical issue in the education of Deaf and hard of hearing students is direct access: direct access to teachers and the language of instruction; direct access to peer interaction; and direct access to the whole school environment. Without this full and direct access, the education of Deaf and hard of hearing students is at risk.
Culturally Deaf, oral deaf, deafened, and hard of hearing Canadians continue to experience discrimination in the workplace and when accessing vital services that most Canadians take for granted such as education, employment, health care, and housing. Discrimination is a sad reality for all people with disabilities, and in the case of people who are culturally Deaf, oral deaf, deafened, or hard of hearing, such discrimination may also be rooted in audism, a key term that we describe in more detail below.
To ensure the development of language and communication competencies, it is essential that all infants and young children are provided with uninhibited and unimpeded access to language. In Canada, such language acquisition and development opportunities are readily available to typically hearing infants and children through normal interaction with their environments and the people in their environments. However, that is not the case for children who are deaf or hard of hearing. Many infants and young children who have been identified as having hearing loss encounter considerable challenges and barriers to accessing and acquiring languages through their natural form (i.e. auditory and/or visual), something that is essential for their cognitive development and eventual success in life. In addition, these infants and young children face a lack of public services that would enable them to access and acquire American Sign Language (ASL) or la langue des signes québécoise (LSQ). In many contexts, children who receive cochlear implants and/or auditory-verbal (AVT) intervention services face restrictions on exposure to and acquisition of ASL or LSQ. (Please refer to “Terms Key to Understanding the Issue” in this paper to understand ASL, LSQ and AVT more fully.)
Alarms, whether activated by heat, smoke, toxic fumes or a break-in into a home, warn of imminent danger by sound. Similarly, emergency notification systems in public places (e.g., airports) rely not only on alarms but also in many cases the ability to convey urgent information over a public address system. Finally, in the midst of an emergency situation, imagine just how critical warnings or instructions shouted by emergency personnel are to survivors or evacuees!
Culturally Deaf, oral deaf, deafened, and hard of hearing Canadians continue to be denied the accommodation needed for full and equal access to vital services that most Canadians take for granted such as education, employment, government services, and health care.
Democracy is the foundation of every free country in the world; yet culturally Deaf, oral deaf, deafened and hard of hearing Canadians continue to be denied the accommodation they need for full and equal access to the democratic process in Canada.
The Disability Tax Credit (DTC) is a non-refundable tax credit available to Canadians with permanent hearing loss where the hearing loss has been determined to markedly restrict an individual from performing functions of daily living, even with the use of their hearing aids or cochlear implants.