There are many products available on the market today to help individuals with hearing impairments. This article should give you a general idea about what sort of items are available.
- Flashing Alarm Clocks. These devices have a bright light that will blink or flash when the alarm goes off. Some will have a plug in so the user can plug any light that they wish into the clock and the alarm will turn that light on and off.
- Vibrating Alarm Clocks. These devices will cause a vibration in a small pad. The vibration is usually sufficient to wake most sleepers. Some are designed to vibrate a pillow and others will vibrate either a section of a bed or even the entire bed. They may have adjustable settings for the amount of vibration needed.
- Combination Alarm Clocks. These clocks are combinations of both Vibrating and Flashing clocks and have the features of both in just one clock.
- Ring Enhancers. These devices will allow the user to set the volume of the ring to much louder levels then ordinary telephones. Some models also allow the user to switch the ring to a different pitch in case their hearing loss is at the same pitch as the standard telephone ring. Another option for some is to allow an additional ringer to be added in a different area of the house or even outside the house.
- Light Flashers. This causes a light to flash whenever the telephone rings. Lights can either be plugged in or are part of the unit.
- Voice Amplifiers. Some attach to the telephone line and others are built right into the handset. They have an adjustable volume control that will make the callers voice louder. Some models are portable and can be used when traveling.
- Telephone Headphones. These headphones plug into a telephone and allow the person to hear with both ears instead of just one ear. They may also have a voice amplifier and volume control.
- Telephone/Television Adapters. These devices plug into a telephone and a television and allow the people to view each other through on the television screen. This would allow for sign language conversations and also speech reading. The devices do require additional hardware including a video camera and both the caller and the person being called would need to have video capability.
TeleTypwriter or TTY
(formerly known as Telecommunication Device for the Deaf or TDD)
These devices allow a person to plug a regular telephone into a small keyboard that has a visual terminal. When a TTY calls another TTY, the users can communicate by typing in what they want to say and the words will print out on the other persons machine. The user can choose if they want the words to be printed on a piece of paper or across a screen. The TTY may have many features including telephone number memory, voice message to warn callers it is a TTY, remote message retrieval, time and date coding of messages and many more.
General Alerting Devices:
Many devices have been designed to help hearing impaired individuals become aware of the sounds in the environment that are needed for personal safety or convenience. These devices may have a bright light that will blink or flash when the sensor goes off. Some will have a plug in so the user can plug any light that they wish into the sensor and when activated, the sensor will turn the light on and off. Others have a loud horn that is activated by the sensor. Things that are often hooked to sensors would include doorbells, timers, telephones, smoke detectors or fire alarms, alarm clocks, sound monitor, personal pager and many others.
Personal Alerting Pagers:
Transmitters can be attached to items such as doorbells and then when someone uses the doorbell, a light or a vibration will be activated on a persons receiving pager. Pagers may have 4 or more different colored lights to separate the incoming transmission so that doorbells are different then smoke detectors etc... Some of the transmitters would include; doorbells, timers, telephones, smoke detectors or fire alarms, alarm clocks, sound monitor, personal pager and many others.
Because of the large amount of information concerning FM systems an entire article is planned for this topic area.
Other Miscellaneous Items:
- Blinker Reminders. These items flash a light to remind a person that their turn signal was left on.
- Personal Listening Systems. This is a small unit that attaches to a belt, or may be handheld and will amplify sound. The main unit has a microphone, a battery and an amplifier. The headphone speaker is attached via a cord. They usually contain a single earbud style earphone, but some have regular headphones. Some models can even have the amplification adjusted within 3 different frequencies (low, medium and high pitches).
- Vibrating Wristwatch. Instead of a chime, these watches will vibrate when the alarm goes off.
- Amplified Stethoscope. Some models have a switch so the frequencies associated with respiratory or cardiac sounds are amplified.
Closed Caption Decoders. As words are being spoken on the television, this device will print the words across the bottom of the screen. Most new televisions come with this device installed, but a separate unit may be purchased and plugged into older televisions if needed. Some units are portable and some may be hooked up to the VCR or satellite system also. Captions may also be semi-transparent on some models so that the picture is more visible. Caption encoders are also available to individuals that wish to add captioning to a videotape.
This article was submitted by:
Glen R. Meier, M.S., CCC-A, FAAA