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Improved Communication For Hearing Impaired

Media Release
25 February 2004


Improved Communication On The Cards For Hearing Impaired

Barriers to communication that can make daily life a hassle for the 450,000 New Zealanders suffering from hearing loss are being tackled in a national initiative by the Hearing Association with the backing of the National Foundation for the Deaf (NFD).

The Hearing Association is introducing counter cards to businesses throughout New Zealand to aid communication between their staff and customers who suffer from hearing loss. This initiative has been made possible by a $15,000 grant from the National Foundation for the Deaf.

Chris Peters, public affairs manager for the Hearing Association points out that too many people with hearing loss simply put up with the fact that they can’t hear someone in a shop, bank or other business and go away without the information or service they really need. While on the other side of the desk the people trying to help hearing-impaired customers or clients don’t really know what strategies to use.

“These cards will help break down those barriers both ways,” said Mr Peters.

The bright yellow card comes in a clear plastic stand and on the front it urges customers with a hearing loss to tell staff they don’t hear well, while on the side facing the staff it explains how to communicate better with five simple tips such as don’t shout and talk slowly.

Marianne Schumacher, executive manager for the NFD stresses that because hearing loss is an invisible disability, it often goes unnoticed.

“Hearing loss is not just about a person’s ears, it is about their ability to communicate and participate in society,” said Ms Schumacher. “The production of these counter cards is a positive step towards breaking down communication barriers in the community and we are pleased to be able to assist the Hearing Association in making this happen.

Ten thousand cards have been produced and will be distributed throughout the country by the Hearing Association’s regional offices.

“I’m hoping every business in New Zealand will want one of these cards, and that the 10,000 we’ve printed won’t be enough,” said Mr Peters. “If that’s the case then we are achieving our aim.”

If you would like to enquire about hearing cards for your business, contact the Hearing Association on 07-856 2008, fax 07-856 2097 or email enquiries@hearing.org.nz

Ends.

Prepared on behalf of the NFD by Donovan Boyd Communications.

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