Canadian Hard of Hearing Association – BC Chapter

Communication is about to get better for the hard of hearing in Canada!

By Snookie Lomow, CHHA Executive Executive Director

Ottawa, July 29 -The Canadian Hard of Hearing Association (CHHA) wishes to acknowledge the ruling by the CRTC brought down on July 21, 2009.

The Canadian Hard of Hearing Association (CHHA) is the voice for Canadians who are hard of hearing. It is the only national not-for-profit consumer driven organization that advocates for the needs of the over 3 million Canadians experiencing hearing loss. More than ten per cent (10%) of Canada’s population is hard of hearing, and for senior citizens age 65 and above this figure increases to 40%. A hearing disability has a serious impact on the quality of life of the person experiencing it, and may result in low self esteem, social isolation and anxiety or depression. It also has a significant impact on everyone who comes into contact with a person who is coping with hearing loss, such as family members, friends, teachers, co-workers and employers.

CHHA was created in 1982 by a group of dedicated individuals, many of whom still remain active in the organization today. These individuals envisioned an organization that would be a leader in raising awareness, advocating and supporting Canadians living with hearing loss. CHHA has successfully built a network across Canada that includes nine provincial Chapters and 50 local and regional Branches serving close to 3000 members.

From the CHHA perspective we want to bring to the attention of the CRTC our appreciation for all the work and support the Commission undertakings have demonstrated to help the needs of the hard of hearing community. CHHA fully supports the following initiatives:

However CHHA would like to comment on the following items in the new ruling that are of concern to our stakeholders.

CHHA wants the Service Providers to recognize the fact that our stakeholders are hard of hearing Canadians who can provide support in the area of testing of products or services when they become available. Due to our expertise and consumer access, CHHA is anticipating that service providers will consult with CHHA to help determine the appropriate formats and accessibility alternatives before making a decision. CHHA is encouraged by the 100% requirement for Broadcast captioning 24 hours a day and that this ruling will be monitored and enforced.

CHHA has in the past been part of a Working Group reviewing caption issues and we anticipate we will be given the opportunity to help determine the assessment of pop-ups versus rolls-ups for the delivering of captioning. CHHA believes that a National standard for closed, open and blocked captioning needs to be established so that all broadcasting networks can deliver uniformity and consistency in the services provided.

CHHA is both encouraged and delighted with the determination and devotion set out by the CRTC to find appropriate solutions to meet the accessibility needs of Canadians who are hard of hearing.