The mission of the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Improving the Accessibility, Usability, and Performance of Technology for Individuals who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing (DHH-RERC) is to provide consumers who are hard of hearing or deaf, and their families and providers, with the knowledge and tools to:
- Take control of communication and hearing technologies,
- Adapt those technologies to real-world environments, and
- Achieve greater autonomy and satisfaction in the use of technology
Consumers who are deaf or hard of hearing are in the best position to make technology work for them–no one else can understand their firsthand experiences as well as they do. Consumers can make informed decisions about the types of technologies they select and use and should not have to rely on clinical, hearing health, and other service providers to make those decisions for them.
Technology is constantly evolving. Many hearing loss rehabilitation and training activities that used to take place in person in office or clinical settings can now be done online, using technology and provided at an individual’s own pace. The advent of interconnected mobile and wearable devices is also leading to a convergence of hearing devices and consumer electronics that are becoming increasingly integrated.
Developments in technology translate into greater empowerment and control over how consumers access information, receive training on technology and rehabilitation options, communicate with others, and approach auditory rehabilitation.
The DHH-RERC mission is to support consumers to take control of their communication, adapt technologies to meet their needs, and achieve greater autonomy through the research, development and knowledge translation activities of six projects. The center is led by the Technology Access Program at Gallaudet University and has been funded since 2014. The current center succeeded the RERC on Hearing Enhancement, which was led by Gallaudet University’s Hearing, Speech, and Language Sciences department from 2003-2014.
About Rehabilitation Engineering Research Centers
Rehabilitation Engineering Research Centers (RERCs) are funded by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research, under the Administration for Community Living at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. RERCs conduct advanced engineering and technical research programs that apply technology, scientific achievement, and psychological and social knowledge to solve rehabilitation problems and remove environmental barriers.