The mission of the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Technology for People who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing (DHH-RERC) is to support the transition to twenty-first century technology for people who are deaf or hard of hearing, as well as their friends and family, by:
- Challenging the way we provide access to technology and services
- Facilitating fundamental shifts in the role of technology for consumers
Mainstream technological developments in the past five years have been dominated by a massive shift to cloud computing, interconnected devices, artificial intelligence, and data-based practices. These developments have improved deaf and hard of hearing access in ways that did not seem possible only a few years ago.
New developments have upended access to technology that deaf and hard of hearing consumers have long taken for granted; for example, easy access to computing via keyboards, mice, touch, and screens is under threat. Speech-to-text technologies have resulted in the proliferation of inaccessible voice-activated personal assistants as a primary human-computer interface.
We can change the way we provide technology and services to consumers who are deaf or hard of hearing. Powerful inter-connected computing means that services that used to be provided in the clinic could be put under consumer control; clinical intervention practices that are currently based on trial and error could, through data-driven techniques, be changed to predict outcomes ahead of time; and accessibility could be embedded into mainstream products, free of computing power constraints.
The DHH-RERC mission is to support consumers in adopting twenty-first century technologies, changing how they use technology and services, taking control of their communication, and ultimately achieving greater access to all aspects of their lives, 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 2019. The current center succeeded the previous RERC on Improving the Accessibility, Usability, and Performance of Technology for Individuals who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing, which was led by Gallaudet University’s Technology Access Program from 2014-2019.
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.