There are hidden pockets of attendees who need your help. In addition to the 5% of the population globally with disabling hearing loss, a lesser-known-but-large population are people with aphasia. Aphasia is a partial or total loss of the ability to articulate ideas or comprehend spoken or written language, resulting from injury to the brain or disease. It is unrelated to intellectual capacity. It may slow their ability to process language. What attendees with hearing loss or aphasia have in common is that both benefit from good transcription of presenters’ spoken words.
Wordly recently sat down with Kitti Tong, a traumatic brain injury survivor with aphasia, and Regina Richardson, her friend and advocate. Kitti Tong previously worked as a performance strategist and facilitator in the hospitality industry. Tong and Richardson are working to increase awareness about the needs and opportunities to better include those with aphasia. They recently presented at Meeting Professionals International’s annual conference.
Kitti Tong said, “Wordly was very helpful. To listen and read at the same time, I can keep up with the presenters. I can scroll up Wordly and re-read what I missed.”
Regina Richardson noted, “The abilities of people with aphasia are diverse. Even for the same person, needs can change from day to day. By giving them more ways to access live content, it allows them to use more of their capacity to fully participate.
Tong observed, “Wordly is on my own device. I like that. I feel normal using my phone.”
Some of their tips for improving accessibility for persons with aphasia are applicable to improving accessibility for most attendees. Keep instructions simple. Easy is good. Keep unnecessary stimuli (overdone music, flashing lights) to a minimum. Proper acoustics make parsing easier. All of this minimizes neurofatigue and facilitates concentration for all attendees.
Wordly CEO Lakshman Rathnam stated, “We are gratified to enhance inclusivity in many aspects of life. We continue to learn of diverse groups with different abilities who find Wordly improves their understanding. We believe passionately in enabling seamless communication.”
Tong and Richardson also have unique experience and insights about improving brain plasticity. Kitti Tong had to work very hard to relearn many skills after her accident. For those struggling to pick up new skills and knowledge, they had several recommendations. Of course, good rest and nutrition are essential. Persistent work to build skills stimulates the brain to adapt. There’s no substitute for time and repetition. Recruiting all parts of the brain by singing phrases, visualizing, adding body motions to words, and staying very positive can be hugely valuable.
If you would like to help Kitti Tong and Regina Richardson in their efforts to raise awareness, you can reach them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chris Harget is a veteran Silicon-Valley-based technology marketing executive. He has trained thousands of technology professionals on the why and how of sundry advanced solutions.