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Accessibility

An individual satisfies the definition of hearing disabled when hearing loss is about 30 dB for a single frequency, but this is not always perceptible as a handicap. For example, loss of sensitivity in one ear interferes with sound localization (directional hearing), which can interfere with communication in a crowd. This is often recognized when certain words are confused during normal conversation. This can interfere with voice-only interfaces, like automated customer service telephone systems, because it is sometimes difficult to increase the volume and repeat the message.

Mild to moderate hearing loss may be accommodated with a hearing aid that amplifies ambient sounds. Portable devices with speed recognition that can produce text can reduce problems associated with understanding conversation. This kind of hearing loss is relatively common, and this often grows worse with age.

The modern method to deal with profound hearing disability is the Internet using email or word processing applications. The telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) became available in the form of the teletype (TTY) during the 1960s. These devices consist of a keyboard, display and modem that connects two or more of these devices using a dedicated wire or plain old telephone service.

Modern computer animation allows for sign language avatars to be integrated into public areas. This technology could potentially make train station announcements, news broadcasts, etc. accessible when a human interpreter is not available.

A wide range of technology products are available to deal with visual impairment. This includes screen magnification for monitors, screen-reading technology for computers and small screen devices, mouse-over speech synthesis browsing, braille displays, braille printers, braille cameras, voice-operated phones, and tablets.

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