Earlier this year, a petition was started to call upon the government of Canada to modify the Income Tax Act, changing the portion regarding the disability tax credit for individuals with hearing impairments. Specifically, this petition seeks to amend the definition of “marked restrictions” to one’s hearing ability as presented below.
“If the person is unable to hear so as to understand another person familiar with the patient, in a quiet setting, even with the use of appropriate devices; or takes an inordinate amount of time to hear so as to understand another person familiar with the patient, in a quiet setting, even with the use of appropriate devices at least 90% of the time.”
If the Income Tax Act is amended as requested by the petition, the definition of “marked restriction” will change to the following:
“If the person is unable to hear so as to understand another person (deleted), in a normal/typical setting, (deleted) or takes an inordinate amount of time to hear so as to understand another person (deleted), in a normal/typical setting (deleted) at least 90% of the time.”
I fully, wholeheartedly agree with the first two of these changes, regarding familiarity and setting. Anyone who cannot understand another person in these contexts, let alone more challenging ones, over 90% of the time is inarguably deserving of this tax benefit and the compensation it provides.
However, I have strong reservations regarding the change to “appropriate devices.” I personally have a bilateral moderately-severe hearing impairment, and under the current definition of “marked restrictions” I certainly would not qualify for this tax credit. I wear my hearing aids from the moment I wake up to the moment I go to sleep and rely on them for every social interaction in between. With my hearing aids, the amount of speech which I cannot understand in a reasonable environment is nowhere near 90%. But, if the proposed new definition is adopted, I, and many others, will become “disabled” in the eyes of the law overnight. Is that right? Is someone truly disabled if they require accommodations to bring their abilities to near-normal levels?
What do you think? Let me know in the comments below.
Here is the petition if you’d like to sign it, as well as some other related resources below: