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Wavefront Centre for Communication Accessibility



New Report Uncovers the Impacts of COVID-19 on Communication Accessibility for Adults with Hearing Loss

For Canadians who are Deaf, DeafBlind, and Hard of Hearing, information and health updates about COVID-19 may not be easily accessible when news briefs, social media and information are provided electronically. It is important to listen to and take actions on the needs from diverse groups in achieving a truly accessible Canada.

The Survey & The Report

Earlier this year, the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association (CHHA), University of British Columbia (UBC), and Wavefront Centre for Communication Accessibility worked together to collect information from Canadians with hearing loss and deafness about how the pandemic has impacted the daily lives. We received insights from close to 700 responses who noted the demand for universal captioning, impacts of masks on communication, and the ability to receive accessible information from the government and media outlets on COVID-19.

The results from this report will provide us with a foundation to better understand the impact the pandemic has had on our communities and to ensure that moving forward, we can address these challenges as we continue to manage COVID-19 throughout the recovery phase and beyond.

We are grateful to all the individuals who took the time to complete the survey and shared their experiences with us about the impacts of the pandemic on their day-to-day lives.

Click here to read the full report.

Accompanying text at the top section: Impacts of COVID-19 On Communication Accessibility For Adults With Hearing Loss. Overview of Survey Results. June 2021. Beneath shows a photo of two persons wearing clear face masks and signing to each other. The footer shows logs of CHHA, Wavefront Centre and UBC.

Key Findings in The Report

  • More than 80% of individuals with hearing loss found it difficult to understand others with face masks
  • 60% of individuals reported that their mental health has been negatively affected as a result of the pandemic
  • At least one-quarter of individuals with higher severity of hearing loss were unable to obtain hearing health services due to COVID-19 restrictions
  • Only 16% of respondents reported obtaining hearing or hearing aid services remotely from a specialist such as an audiologist or hearing instrument practitioner
  • Over 60% of respondents reported difficulty in understanding others who are behind plexiglass barriers
  • At least 60% of respondents indicated that having captioning available would help improve communication with others in video calls and at virtual events

On the top is a white background with “Thank you for joining our webinar” in dark blue. Below is a woman in a blue T-shirt using her hands to picture the symbol of sign language. The footer shows the logos of CHHA and Wavefront Centre.

The Webinar

In May, 2021, we hosted a webinar where the principal investigators, Dr. Brenda Poon, Wavefront Centre Senior Research Fellow and Assistant Professor at UBC, and Dr. Lorienne Jenstad, Associate Professor at UBC School of Audiology & Speech Sciences, presented the preliminary findings from their work.

Click here to watch the recording of this webinar.


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