Technical communicators are skilled listeners. Whether interviewing subject matter experts or working on teams, good communication is essential. But if you have a hearing loss, assistive listening systems (ALSs) can help.
The presenter describes a long series of technological assistive devices she has used to overcome a double disability--—blindness and deafness—--over the past 30 years in pursuing a highly successful career in technical communication. She also demonstrates the equipment and shows how it makes it possible for her to do her job.
Some 43 million Americans have disabilities, under the definitions provided in the American Disabilities Act. Only one fourth of working-age Americans with disabilities who are capable of fully productive employment have jobs. Grim statistical realities like these prompted the Society for Technical Communication to form a Special Needs Committee (SNC) to address the needs of its members (as well as its end users) who have disabilities. This article provides a brief history of the SNC, outlines its goals and objectives, and introduces some of its members. The SNC welcomes the development of a “sister” group within the American Translators Association (ATA), and would like to pool resources to help fellow professionals whose careers—and lives—have been derailed by disabilities.