Improve Hearing Accessibility in Houses of Worship
WHY IS HEARING ACCESSIBILITY IN HOUSES OF WORSHIP IMPORTANT?
According to Statistics Canada, 20% of the Canadian population has a hearing loss. This increases to over 50% for seniors.
For most houses of worship, seniors make up a large portion of spiritual participants, however, hearing loss can lead to feelings of social isolation and a decline in spiritual participation. As many people receive comfort, peace, and strength from prayer and meditation, this is very troubling.
To improve participation in their senior population, many houses of worship, such as the Mary Queen of Peace Parish in St. John’s, have opted to provide hearing accessibility as a way to improve participation and make sure that their constituents are getting the most out of every service.
FACTS ABOUT HEARING LOSS
- Speaking loudly or using a microphone may not be enough for a person with hearing loss to understand.
- Hearing aids are only designed to optimize speech within 3 feet and can only do so much to help a person hear in their environment. This makes the availability of other supports, such as a group listening system important.
- Hearing loss makes speech sound distorted or muffled. This makes conversations more difficult to understand, especially in environments with lots of background noise.
- Larger spaces, especially those with high ceilings create echos and background noise. This often results in a challenging listening environment, even for a person without a hearing loss.
HOW YOU CAN SUPPORT YOUR COMMUNITY AND PARTICIPATION
- Use A Group Listening System: Connect a group listening system to an existing soundboard. You can loan one from CHHA-NL or apply for the Hearing Accessibility Program.
- Use Text Wherever Possible: Consider providing written copies of the service, so participants can follow along.
- Provide Good Lighting: Ensure space is well lit to allow members to speech (lip) read.
- Reduce Noise: Be aware of background or ambient noise that may affect the acoustics of the space. Providing acoustic treatments if necessary, and decreasing the amount of noise wherever possible is a great way to reduce excess noise.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF PROVIDING HEARING ACCESSIBILITY
- Open your doors to current and new members with hearing loss.
- Become inclusive of the listening needs of your congregation. This will allow them to follow along with the service.
- Demonstrate your respect for the needs of your members. This will increase confidence, morale, and participation.
- Reduce feelings of social isolation
- Promote a sense of belonging within your community.
- Demonstrate your commitment to those of varying abilities.
- Obtain greater engagement and volunteerism of persons with hearing loss within your house of worship.
HOW CAN WE HELP?
- CHHA-NL provides a Public Accessibility Program for community organizations, charity groups, places of worship, and other places that provide public meeting spaces.
- The public accessibility fund provides hearing assistive technology for non- profits and registered charities to allow for greater accessibility in public spaces.
- CHHA-NL also provides advice on other ways to support those with hearing loss in your community. We can also provide communication tips to help you stay connected with your congregation.
ACCESSIBILITY PROGRAM FOR PUBLIC ORGANIZATIONS
CHHA-NL provides financial assistance for hearing accessible listening systems for:
- Places of worship
- Public organizations
- Charity groups
- Community organizations
- Other organizations which provide public use or meeting space(s)
More details & information can be found on the Public Accessibility Program Application.
If you are interested in learning more about how to improve hearing accessibility, contact us today, or visit our accessibility page.