Technologies and Tools for Serving Deaf and Hard of Hearing Patrons

Someone recently asked me:
“Our library has access to some funds for technology purchase and an interest in using the funds to make our library more accessible and useful. Can you suggest some useful tools for serving deaf and hard of hearing patrons?”

And I thought perhaps others might find my answer useful, so here you go!:

I have listed some ideas below, but really it depends on what your focus is. There are technologies you can buy, but often serving the deaf and hard of hearing community is more about ongoing services, such as providing interpreters for programs, providing captioning for video content on the library’s website, and providing training for library staff to better serve these patrons. Unlike say, providing a wheelchair ramp, where it is a one-time cost, improving services to deaf and hard of hearing patrons is often an ongoing cost and effort. (And even purchasing an FM system or a communications device won’t do you much good unless staff get the training to know how to use it effectively.)  So, if at all possible, I encourage you to invest in staff training and/or ongoing provision of services such as interpreters or captioning, instead of just one-time technology purchases.

That said, here are some thoughts:

What technologies would you add to this list? Let us know in the comments!

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