Accessibility and Inclusive Communication: Empowering the Deaf and Hard of Hearing-How SMS Messaging Enhances Communication

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Why SMS Messaging Works for the Hearing Impaired – At a Glance:

  • Over 4 million people are suffering from hearing loss who may have difficulty listening on the phone, or who avoid talking to businesses altogether
  • Current technologies such as the National Relay Service and voice-to-text calls are clunky, outdated, and time-consuming
  • SMS means no one mishears and everyone’s communicating exactly what they need to

 

 

How do you communicate with customers who can’t hear you?

If your customer is deaf or hard of hearing can mean people must overcome barriers with businesses that aren’t equipped to help them. Babeltext unlocks communication for these customers with a one-stop messaging platform that allows the deaf to chat freely with your staff.

The result? Your customers get the support they need and you save time and money.

Does hearing loss affect my customers?

Yes, it likely does!

While industries such as Healthcare and Aged Care will be disproportionately interacting with those with hearing loss, all businesses should be aware of the needs of the deaf or hard of hearing.

Hearing loss predominantly impacts those over 50 years of age, and that’s a huge scoop of most businesses’ customer base. Due to Australia’s aging population, there will be higher rates of hearing issues across the country in the coming years; 16% of Australians suffer from hearing loss today, and by 2050 it will increase to 25%.

 

Source: Access Economics, Listen Hear! The economic impact and cost of hearing loss in Australia, (February 2006)

So how can businesses communicate with the deaf or hard of hearing?

While multiple communication technologies are available for those suffering from hearing loss, they lack the ease and conversational approach of SMS messaging. But the question is: Why do the deaf need yet another device or service to interact with businesses? They are already messaging their friends and family on a daily basis (like everyone else!) so why not give them this access to your business via the same channel?

Some of the viable options available for those with a hearing impairment are listed below:

  • Phone callscan be difficult, frustrating, and important points missed
  • Emailslow response time, no quick solutions
  • Website chatbots limited abilities
  • Telephone Typewriter (TTY)may require external hardware
  • National Relay Servicetime-consuming, video option requires computer and internet,
  • In-person time-consuming, maybe too noisy for hard-of-hearing to converse

What’s missing in the above solutions is simply human-to-human interaction without barriers. Given that SMS is available on all devices, and is commonly used in our day-to-day lives, it is easy to implement for your business’s customer support.

Where does SMS fit in?

While multiple messaging channels are available, such as Facebook Messenger or Google Business Messenger, and WhatsApp, we recommend utilizing SMS. It’s ubiquitous to all devices and requires no installations, so people of all ages can freely access it.

SMS as a service also has major benefits over traditional means of communication with the deaf or hard of hearing, and these can greatly improve their satisfaction when interacting with you.

Key Benefits of SMS Messaging:

  • No miscommunications caused by the mishearing conversation
  • Fast replies, instant service; no waiting around for email replies
  • Multilingual, SMS in any language; widen your customer base
  • Include hyperlinks in your messages, directing customers to videos with captions, surveys, or your website (and achieve a 27% click-through rate on SMS messages with rich media links)
  • SMS conversations are 8 x cheaper than phone calls for a business

Additionally, if your business would like to utilize Facebook Messenger or Google Messages and now Webchat, these too can be routed into a messaging platform for ease of communication.

What’s Next?

Messaging via SMS is user-friendly for consumers and businesses alike. Simply displaying your dedicated SMS number on a contact page is enough to get people to message you. While this is a welcome gateway for communication with your deaf and hard-of-hearing customers, you’ll find many other customers will prefer this method too.

We envision an Australia where everyone can communicate freely with organizations no matter their language or hearing ability. SMS is a proven method of achieving this, which is why Babeltext promotes the simplicity of SMS over other channels.

If you are an Audiology Clinic, a Health or Aged Care provider, or simply a business wanting to communicate easily with customers, please get in touch. We’d love to discuss your needs and get you set up with an easy-to-use SMS Messaging platform.