Kentucky has 700,000 residents who are deaf or hard of hearing. Community forums in Somerset April 11-13 and in Bowling Green May 16-18 will offer families, friends, schools and employers a chance to find information and resources to better serve those with hearing issues.
The three-day programs are sponsored by the Kentucky Commission on the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. The Somerset program kicks off April 11 with a ‘Community Connect’ forum from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Courtyard Marriott. Staff from the commission will also be available from 3 to 7 p.m. on April 12 at the same location. Intrepreters and captioning will be available at the program. Anita Dowd is executive staff advisor for the commission. Dowd is deaf and said the population of Kentucky residents with hearing issues is often under-served and under the radar, partly because of the difficulty in communication.
Dowd said the community forums will address all issues of concern. “It could be anything from A to Z,” said Dowd. “It could be that someone who has experienced a loss in hearing, maybe it was later in life, says, 'What kind of resources are available? I can’t afford hearing aids. How do I communicate with my doctor? Is there assistive technology that can help me?'." Hearing loss can be an issue for many teenagers, military veterans and senior citizens. Dowd said there are many organizations and businesses in the region who can benefit from resources available to the deaf and hard of hearing. Many of those groups will get visits from the commission staff through the third day of the program on April 13. “We’re actually going to be going out to different agencies, organizations, senior citizens centers, audiologists, hospitals and Veteran’s Administration centers,” said Dowd. The Bowling Green community program will be May 16 - 18. The Kentucky Commission on the Deaf and Hard of Hearing is part of the Kentucky Education & Workforce Development Cabinet.