How Technology Is Helping The Hearing Impaired

Whether it's through cell phones, e-mails or social networks, thousands of Texomans stay connected every day.

While modern technology has made life more convenient for most of us, it's taking communication to a whole another level for the hearing impaired.

Newschannel 6 Lindsey Rogers learned how recent advancements are making life much easier for one Texoman.

James Moore is an engineer technician whose job is to design training projects for the Air Force.

Think that sounds hard, Moore is also deaf and no one in his office knows sign language.

"We're used to communicating with each other so, when they're discussing something we would be using facial expressions so we could understand each other and explain what we want done. So, the technological writer they can write on paper back and forth and sign. They're learning," Moore said.

Moore has been working for the military for the past 25 years.

He said modern technology has drastically changed the way he communicates with the hearing world around him.

While gestures are still a common practice around his office, now, he can also e-mail or text co-workers from across the room.

"I have a lap top right now that has the webcam and technology in itself I can use. It's a small lap top I can take with me, but, now there's new stuff happening all the time. You can take a phone and don't have to have a lap top so, you don't have to have three or four different pieces. Now, we're condensing it into just phones. It's so much easier," Moore said.

The video relay service Moore uses for phone calls allows him to sign through a webcam to an interpreter who does the same for the person on the other end of the line.

"Texting, you have a conversation and you have no feeling no laughing and tone of voice. When I'm signing they're interpreting or video phone I can use facial expressions and they can interpret that and have voice inflection," Moore said.

The only down side, a regular phone line won't do. So, James has to make sure he's in an area with a strong wifi signal.

The Internet has made life easier for students as well.

When James was in college, he relied on a note-taker and interpreter like Katrina Wiggins of Talking Hands Interpreting, who joined us for the interview.

But now, students can sign up for online classes and skip all that.

"There's different challenges because there's more reading, but different. Not much reading in mine, it was just one on one interpreter signing and no Internet then," Moore said.

Even though Moore keeps up with the latest devices, he doesn't believe technology will ever replace sign language.

In fact, at night, he teaches a beginning sign language course at Vernon College.

"Some people prefer a deaf teacher because it's more challenging when they're deaf," Moore said.

This is Deaf Awareness Week.

Through this story, we learned there are only a hand-full of certified sign language interpreters in Texoma.

If you'd like more information on Talking Hands Interpreting Services call 940-232-2743.  They also have educational DVD's available.

Lindsey Rogers, Newschannel 6