Instant messaging has been viewed by many as a convenient and personal way to communicate and stay in touch with friends, family and colleagues. But there are different use cases for several people. One such demographic are the deaf or hard of hearing population. Sign language has been their preferred choice of communication. IMs can mean so much more to the hearing impaired than it can mean to you and me. It’s an entire new way of communicating for the hearing impaired.
The technology deployed in Instant Messengers today can create a level playing field for the deaf community. The hearing impaired can now do tasks such as scheduling a meeting, interacting with friends and families with ease. Not only can they use chat functionalities available in today’s IMs but do so much more in terms of productivity with things such as Screen Share, Co-Browse and also interact with sign language using video calls. With the increase in Internet connectivity more and more hearing impaired users are finding IMs as their go to communication tool. Internet based IM also provides an opportunity for the hearing impaired to communicate with anonymity without having to disclose their disability, if they chose to do so.
According to a research carried out at University of Haifa in Israel, it was found that the hearing impaired teens generally feel lonely and suffer from low self-esteem as compared to hearing people. In such a scenario, Instant Messengers can be a boon for the hearing impaired in ways more than one.
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