We Minnesotans are truly sensitive to people who have disabilities. We provide for each other and have compassion for others. We are proud to be from Minnesota, not just because we survive super cold weather with miserably long winters, but because we are nice. What does nice mean? Well come to Minnesota and find out.
Minnesota and the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act)
What does ADA mean? How is Minnesota doing? How does it affect me?
First of all, the ADA was signed into law in 1990. As members of Congress researched the issue, they found that over 54 million Americans suffered from one or more physical or mental disabilities. They also suffered from discrimination in employment, transportation, education, and other areas. The ADA applies to employers, service programs of state and local governments, communication, and transportation providers; whether they receive or benefit from federal government funding.
Businesses face multiple obligations under the ADA. The first is to remove barriers. The ADA prioritizes access to the building from public sidewalks, parking areas, and public transportation. Next on the list is access to the goods and services offered by the business, then to public restrooms, and finally to all public amenities (like drinking fountains).
Since the scope of the challenges faced by people with disabilities is so broad, so too are the categories of assistance that can be reasonably provided to those who need them. Here I want to concentrate on the accommodations needed by those who are Deaf or hard-of-hearing.
Did you know that one out of five Minnesotans, over the age of 12, suffer from some form of hearing loss? The Minnesota Department of Human Services has a discrete department called the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services Division that is ready to help. Their website contains a wealth of information about how to live with the loss, what types of assistive devices are available, other communication aids, and much more.
As you know, we at Hears to U, Audiology, Hearing & Hearables are also able to assist almost anyone to hear better while in the clinic through hearing aids, assistive listening devices, and the hearing loop.
What happens when you leave the clinic? Do other places in Minnesota have accessibility for people that suffer from hearing loss?
Here are some facts for you!
The City of St. Louis Park has made sure that the rooms in which most public meetings would be held, like the council chamber and the community room at the City Hall, are equipped with the Hearing Loop. As you know this allows people whose hearing aids have a T-coil, to have what is said streamed directly into their hearing aids. If a meeting must be held elsewhere, other assistive devices are available.
The City of Hopkins also has a loop in their City Hall Council Chamber and first-floor conference room. Minneapolis has several sites with a loop: several churches, and some libraries and courtrooms and council chambers. In the Greater Metro area, there are several churches, the Sabes Jewish Community Center again in St. Louis Park, MN, theaters, Hennepin County Government Center, and multiple areas of MSP airport all have loop systems. Minnesota even has a nonprofit 501.3c group called Loop Minnesota that advocates for hearing loops over other assisted devices for large venues.
This is just a start. If you know of a venue that needs a loop system, let us know at Hears to U, Audiology. If you know someone who needs some hearing help, let us know. We want to be an advocate for you.