Texting for accessibility part 1: Is your business accessible to the hearing impaired?

“Disabilities” are only debilitating when we don’t make proper accommodations. At Zipwhip, we love to see technology used in innovative ways – and one of those ways is accessibility. Technologies like texting are improving the lives of people living with hearing and speech impairments as well as social anxieties. Organizations who consider accessibility in day-to-day operations will not only benefit their impaired clients, but improve communication and accessibility for all clients.

Hearing Impaired

“Quietly over the last decade, phones that make text messaging easy have changed life profoundly for millions of deaf people.”
– CBS News

women talking on cellphone
38 million Americans report some form of hearing loss.
Talking over the phone or listening to voicemail can be stressful for those with hearing impairments. Phone calls have notoriously bad reception and sound quality – and that’s not to mention other environmental factors that could make it hard to hear. Even if you’re not hearing impaired, a text is often a clearer way to deliver a message.
Sarah Dukart, a deaf business owner, spoke of her experiences with a text enabled veterinary office, “Last year, one of my pets was rushed to a city 10 hours away for emergency vet care.”

“My vet has a text enabled number set up specifically for their deaf and hard of hearing customers. Being able to exchange information and get first hand answers to my questions and concerns was an exhilarating experience for me. This SHOULD be the norm and an option for anyone in my situation, especially with the technology offered today. Sadly, it isn’t, but I will be a customer for life with this vet office and their accommodation for my disability is a large reason why.”

Read Part 2 of the Texting for Accessibility series: The telephone game with a dog groomer

Speech Impaired

Increasingly, speech therapists are exploring texting as an option for patients with aphasia: the loss of ability to understand or express speech. Pélagie M. Beeson and researchers from the University of Arizona documented the use of texting as a part of a speech therapy program. They decided to pursue texting for four reasons:

  • Texting is mainstream
  • Low cost for those who already own text-capable cell phones
  • Instantaneous communication over long distances with a portable device
  • The time taken to compose a text is entirely up to the individual

“Text messaging can also reduce the discomfort or impatience some people experience with pauses in real-time voice conversations,” Gahran says, “or the chance that they may instantly blurt a response that they’d later regret.”

Social Anxiety

Social Anxiety Disorder affects over 15 million Americans. Most of us experience some form of social anxiety, or know someone who does. Social anxiety can manifest as basic call reluctance, or in more extreme cases, can seriously interfere with the individual’s ability to make friends or form relationships. Someone with social anxiety may avoid calling a business over the phone to make a reservation, or miss appointments, but it’s not necessarily because they want to – they feel powerless to control their anxiety and fear being negatively judged by other people.

Dukart went on to speak of Zipwhip’s business texting solution, “Zipwhip is the perfect solution for so many businesses as an affordable, easy and accessible way to offer [a higher] level of service to not only those with hearing impairments, but those with social anxieties as well.”


It’s not just the speech or hearing impaired that benefit from texting. Texting is often more comfortable than phone calls for people who are in the process of learning a language, or have a heavy accent. Texting is easier for introverts, and quicker than a phone conversation, because it doesn’t require small talk or niceties.

Technology is truly at its best when we can improve life for millions of people. Of course, you should always consult a doctor for medical advice – texting is not necessarily a solution to mental or physical health concerns, but it is a low-presser, highly accessible way to reach people. We applaud organizations that use texting technology to make communication easier for all. If accessibility is important to your business, texting may be the solution.

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