Most of us are familiar with closed captioning and, of course, hearing aids, but there is a wide range of technology that can help the deaf or hard of hearing communicate more fully with the hearing population and also be safer in their homes.
These include alarming or alerting devices and enhanced forms of communication, many of which can substitute for or augment sound with visual readout, flashing light or vibration. Choosing the right options can be difficult. Fortunately, in southeast Michigan, Farmington Hills-based nonprofit Deaf and Hearing Impaired Services, Inc. (DHIS) has more than 20 years experience in helping the deaf or hard of hearing find the best assistive devices.
“There is some amazing technology out there for the deaf or hard of hearing, especially in the Internet and computer age, but it’s always about what’s best for the individual. Often, simpler is better and costs are an important factor,” says Linda Booth, DHIS president and a longtime advocate and innovator in services for the deaf or hard of hearing consumer.
A range of assistive devices. These days, everyone is texting on cell phones, smart phones and tablets. However, today’s texting gurus have nothing on the deaf or hard of hearing who have had available for many years, TTY, shorthand for Text Telephone. This device, also referred to as a TDD, Telecommunications Device for the Deaf, outfits telephones with keyboards and a visual display screen. One can type his or her conversation.
TTY is just one kind of advanced communication device available to the deaf or hard of hearing. There are also captioning devices, a variety of assistive listening devices, and alerting devices that make use of vibration or flashing light. Examples of such alerting devices include special smoke detectors, alarm clocks and baby monitors for the deaf or hard of hearing.
DHIS can help the deaf or hard of hearing assess the need for assistive devices, find the best places to acquire these devices, and access community resources that include financial aid or programs that train individuals in their use.
“The deaf or hard of hearing, including sensors, can be safe in their homes, communicate for business or pleasure, and travel freely with the right assistive devices,” Booth adds.
For more information on assistive devices for the deaf or hard of hearing, please visit the DHIS web site at www.dhisonline.org.