Hyatt Hotels Corporation joined Able Planet, Inc. to announce the launch of a revolutionary new micro-technology providing access to telecommunications for people with hearing disabilities across the globe.
Nationally acclaimed disability rights champion Jo Waldron, chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Able Planet, Inc., along with Hyatt Hotel executives, will showcase this state-of-the-art technology at a press conference in Denver at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, June 11, 2003 on the steps of the State Capitol.
The patent-pending technology, invented this past year by Waldron and tested by hearing industry veteran, Joan Burleigh, Ph. D, will provide the 34 million+ Americans and 500 million individuals worldwide with mild to profound hearing loss, the opportunity to effectively communicate with others via telephone as well as hear speech more clearly using earphones and other communications devices. Given the profound benefits, Hyatt plans to install this technology in hotel rooms throughout North America.
“There are millions of Americans who do not have access to voice telecommunication or communications devices,” said Jo Waldron, who was honored by President Ronald Reagan with “The President`s Trophy” and was appointed “Disabled American for the Nation,” representing the Presidents of the United States and all Americans with disabilities since 1987. “Simple daily communication, such as calling a friend, ordering from room service, understanding a television program or learning in a computer lab is incredibly frustrating and most of the time, impossible for people with hearing loss.”
In committing support to Able Planet`s invention and following compliance directives that are federally mandated, Hyatt Hotel Corporation`s vice president of engineering, Tom Riegelman, will announce today, “consistent with our goals of providing leading edge technology for its guests and improving the accessibility of its hotels, Hyatt Hotel Corporation will specify the inclusion of Able Planet`s technology in all new guestroom telephone sets purchased for Hyatt Hotels in the United States, Canada and the Caribbean. Hyatt has installed the technology in almost three hundred telephones at their Colorado hotel properties; Hyatt Regency Denver, Hyatt Regency Tech Center and Park Hyatt Beaver Creek. Hyatt is phasing in the Able Planet technology into their telephones, which will include the replacements of existing guestroom telephones in the normal course of business.”
“Hyatt is committed to providing equal access to people with disabilities,” said Riegelman, who is also the chairman of the ADA Task Force for the American Hotel & Lodging Association. “And Able Planet`s technology will help us meet that commitment.”
“All my life, I, like millions of other Americans, have faced the challenge of communication,” Waldron said. “It has been a dream of mine to bring the gift of communication and break down many of the barriers.”
More About the Technology Able Planet`s micro-technology measures just 1mm, about one-eighth the size of the head of a push-pin. The technology is so small that it fits in standard telephones or hands-free headsets such as those used with cellular phones, cordless phones, multi-media computers and laptops, MP3 players, CD players, stereos, and more.
Once installed, the micro-technology is transparent; those who do not use a hearing aid will not know it`s there. People with or without hearing loss can use the same phone or hands-free system. Those who use a hearing aid can take advantage of the technology by simply flipping the switch on their hearing aid to the “T” setting and adjusting the volume on their hearing aid.
Traditional technologies have attempted unsuccessfully to improve speech understanding by using hearing aid compatible (HAC) headsets, magnetic open-air or induction coils, ear silhouettes, volume controls, or neck loops. The result is usually the same: volume may be increased but clarity is not greatly improved.
Able Planet`s micro-technology instead creates a direct audio link between a hearing aid`s T-coil and an electronic device such as a phone or headset. Studies have shown that Able Planet`s micro-technology improves the overall frequency response levels of telephones resulting in improved sound clarity. Thus, speech is amplified, clarity is increased and the audio signal is enhanced.
Provable Results Able Planet`s micro-technology has been undergoing intensive research. Current tests are being executed in a controlled study with participants who had varying degrees of hearing loss, from mild to profound. The technology has been compared to conventional HAC internal handset technology under controlled auditory conditions. The defining measurement was speech discrimination ability. Initial studies have found that the Able Planet technology does a significantly better job allowing hearing-disabled participants to differentiate common words over the phone. Among the findings:
1. Using traditional HAC technology, the average speech discrimination score was 52.6 percent compared to 81.6 percent with Able Planet`s micro-technology.
2. Several participants who had been unable to use traditional HAC-enabled telephones were able to successfully use the phone equipped with Able Planet`s micro-technology.
3. One subject`s performance was 0% with HAC and 92% with Able Planet`s micro-technology. This highly significant finding is currently the subject of a comprehensive follow-up study.
Hyatt Hotel Corporation is the first corporation with a commitment to use Able Planet`s new micro-technology. Able Planet is currently working with market sectors such as wireline and wireless telecommunications, public accommodation telecommunications, computer/network services, public/environmental communications, hearing aid/assisting devices, Federal, State and local municipalities and retail/equal opportunity employers.