WASHINGTON, DC —People with hearing loss have significant legal rights under various federal and state laws, according to a new Guide published by The Better Hearing Institute (BHI) and posted on its Web site http://www.betterhearing.org/hearing_solutions/legal_rights.cfm.
“Hearing Solutions—Legal Rights Guide for Individuals with Hearing Loss” was written by Minnesota attorney Sam Diehl, an expert on employment law. The new guide summarizes the rights available to people with hearing loss and provides links to references and other resources.

“With the availability of today’s technologically advanced hearing devices, most people with hearing loss do not need to resort to disability considerations under the law,” says BHI Executive Director Sergei Kochkin, PhD. “However, this Guide will prove invaluable for those with hearing impairments who qualify for protection under the law.”

The Guide summarizes the numerous state and federal laws that seek to minimize the effects of disability bias and give people with disabilities equal opportunities. Under these laws, people with hearing loss have the right to be free from discrimination in employment, public accommodations, transportation, education, and communication.
Specifically, the Guide explains under what circumstances a hearing loss is considered a disability under either federal or state law, and if so, the legal rights to which people with hearing loss are entitled. It reviews the following laws:
• The Americans with Disabilities Act
• Federal Communications Commission
• Telecommunications Act
• Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
• Fair Housing Act
• Voting Accessibility for the Elderly and Handicapped Act of 1984

“Untreated or untreatable hearing loss continues to take a significant toll on millions of Americans,” said Kochkin, citing a recent BHI survey published in The Hearing Review  /issues/articles/2005-10_02.asp that it negatively affects annual household income, on average by up to $23,000 depending on degree of hearing loss. The use of hearing aids mitigated the effects of hearing loss on income by about 50%, according to the study findings.

SOURCE: Better Hearing Institute