Amid growing concern regarding a lack of deaf-friendly senior housing, one advocacy group has been working toward a housing solution for this marginalized group in senior living.
For years the Florida Association of the Deaf has campaigned to build federally subsidized apartments for the deaf on limited incomes, specifically in South in Florida, according to a Sun Sentinel article.
June McMahon, president of the association, has been on the lookout for accessible housing that suits severely hearing impaired seniors. But when calling several senior living communities to schedule a visit, requests for an interpreter to assist in the community tours were rejected.
“They said no. So we stopped right there,” McMahon said to the Sun Sentinel.
The refusal on the part of senior housing operators was not without reason, many of whom saying that limited numbers of “totally deaf elders” make it unfeasible for them to retrofit a wing of their building and bring in specially trained staff.
Senior living communities that do provide services for deaf residents accommodate them on a case-by-case basis, using letter boards or consulting interpreters if necessary, writes the article.
As more Americans enter old age by the millions in the coming years, there looks to be a greater demand for services catering to the severely hearing impaired.
Currently, state officials estimate there are 3 million Floridians who are either deaf of hearing impaired, and many who have some hearing loss today that may become deaf as they get older.
“Older deaf people tend to build their own little communities…” said Shana Williams, social services director for the nonprofit Center for Hearing and Communication. “Imagine leaving that [for a retirement facility] and having no way to communicate.”
Written by Jason Oliva