Technology can play a key role in assisting a deaf or hard of hearing person to lead an independent life. Hearing aids are the most common technology used, and essentially they amplify sound.
Other technology may be designed to assist the person with a variety of tasks in different settings, including the home, workplace or community environment. Equally, technology may be designed to assist the person with a variety of needs, from health and safety to recreational needs. Such technology is often referred to as Assistive Technology, and some examples of Assistive Technology are listed below, including an explanation of their use and application.
Assistive Technology in the Home
- Flashing devices, e.g. a doorbell, which alerts the deaf or hard of hearing person that there is someone at the door through a flashing light.
- TV Listening devices, which allow the person with hearing loss to adjust the TV volume independently and to eliminate background noise.
- Amplified telephones, which provide amplified and higher quality sound that assist some people with hearing loss to use the telephone.
- Vibrating pillow pads, which alert people while sleeping. This can include an alarm clock, doorbell or fire alarm.
It is important for people who use hearing aids during the day to be aware that at night, when they remove their hearing aids, they might not hear an ordinary smoke alarm when they are asleep.
Assistive Technology in the Workplace
- Vibrating pad, which alerts an employee if there is an emergency or they are required to complete another task/job etc.
- Listening devices, which can be used to assist employees with hearing loss during meetings, consultations etc.
- Minicom/Fax/iPhone/Internet based video calls, which assist people with hearing loss to communicate in the workplace and the community in general.
Assistive Technology in the Community
- Induction loops, which are included in all public telephones, in are installed in some public auditoria such as theatres and cinemas, and at some counters/ticket desks etc. An induction loop allows a person with a 'T' switch on their hearing aid to eliminate background noise to assist communication.
- Visual scrolling displays, on public transport, in auditoria and in some public buildings provide accessible information to people with hearing loss.
For further information on assistive technology for people who are deaf or hard of hearing, contact your local DeafHear.ie Resource Centre.