'Huge gaps in services' for Islanders with hearing impairments, says advocate
'There needs to be choices and people need to draw from those choices what best suits their life'
A group that works with Islanders who have hearing impairments says due to a lack of sign-language interpreters it has to use closed-captioning services which don't work for everyone.
Marcia Carroll, executive director of the PEI Council of People with Disabilities (PEICOD), points to the number of sign-language interpreters on the Island.
"We know of two people who do sign-language interpretation. Neither one are licensed, so it's very limited for people with hearing impairments and that are deaf, who want to communicate with sign language," she said.
It depends on whether you're deaf or hard of hearing and whether or not you became deaf or you were born deaf. So there's really three categories of individuals that utilize similar services.— Marcia Carroll, executive director, PEI Council of People with Disabilities
Carroll said she thinks one of the reasons for the lack of interpreters is the cost of training.
"It's expensive to get training. If you're going to try to make a living as a sign-language interpreter on P.E.I. that could be a challenge."
Because of the difficulty in finding sign-language interpreters, the PEICOD uses closed-captioning services for its public meetings.
Carroll said closed captioning works well for those who are hard of hearing, but some people who are deaf don't read closed captioning.
One size doesn't fit all
She said a solution to create greater accessibility would be to provide both sign-language interpretation and closed captioning services.
"It depends on whether you're deaf or hard of hearing and whether or not you became deaf or you were born deaf. So there's really three categories of individuals that utilize similar services," she said.
"There needs to be a continuum of service, there needs to be choices and people need to draw from those choices what best suits their life."
Carroll said while these issues exist, positive strides have been made over time.
She said the proliferation of closed captioning for TV shows is an example of that, and something that was non-existent in the past.
"Things are moving forward but there's still huge gaps in services for sure."