Welcome to the first installment of this series - products for the home.
I know for the Deaf (Culturally Deaf), this is "old news", but I'm aiming towards the newly deaf, hard of hearing, and hearing people for awareness and understanding.
First let's talk about the optimum home layout for the Deaf.
The "Deaf Space" consists of maximizing proximity, acoustics (vibrations), lighting, colors, and transparency in a home (or building).
Let's use the photo above for an example, the couch allows Deaf people to see each other easily while chatting, lot's of natural lighting available, and the open space concept means that a Deaf person upstairs can wave and get the attention of another downstairs.
Other ideas would be open kitchens where there's access to the living room, wood floors to carry vibrations (stomp on the floor to get attention from across the room) and clear sight lines for chatting and visual alerts.
Now let's look at some products:
There are a wide of variety of visual alert systems on the market - sold as combo sets or single purpose use.
First, what is a visual alert system? A visual alert is a system to monitor the home and alerts the deaf or hard of hearing person of noise in their surroundings. Sounds such as the doorbell, telephone, baby crying, alarm clock, smoke alarm, and anything you set it for.
Like I said, there are many different products available, but I'll discuss the one I use - the Clarity Alertmaster. The main unit is set up in my bedroom (because of the alarm clock and bedshaker), and has a lamp plugged into it. There's a wireless doorbell attached to the front door, a receiver attached next to the smoke alarm, and the landline can be plugged into the back of the unit for phone calls. There are receiver units set up in different rooms in the house for alerting as well. Extra receivers and sound monitors can be bought as well.
I know you don't need additional products for closed-captioning as all televisions are required to have it installed. Many channels and streaming services offer it as well (not all, but most).
But I brought this up as I've seen many, many stories of hearing family members complaining about having the captioning on for their deaf or hard of hearing member.
Yes, I'm serious.
There are folks, who disregard the needs of their deaf or hard of hearing family member to fully participate because they're annoyed by the moving text. What does that attitude appear to that deaf or hard of hearing member? Dismissive, uncaring, unloving - drives a bigger divide between the two of you.
Just turn it on and after a while you won't notice it. Besides 80% of caption users aren't even deaf or hard of hearing - use it for understanding accents, loud backgrounds, and other situations where you might miss what's said.
TV Viewing - Other than Captioning
If you have residual hearing you depend on for listening, but turning up the television volume bothers other family members (and possibly your neighbors), there are a few options for TV viewing:
* Wireless Earbuds - For those with mild loss and don't use hearing aids, or to wear without hearing aids.
* Wireless Headphones - The same as above but have full headphones to ear over ears and may fit over some hearing aids.
* Listening Loops - Worn around the neck, this works with the hearing aid's telecoil to wireless transfer sound to your heaing aid.
Yes, Deaf and Hard of Hearing folks can use phones, just in a different way that you're accustomed to.
Here are several phone options:
* Amplified Phones - have extra loud ringers, volume controls, and are hearing aid compatible.
* Captioned Phones - Works with a relay operator to caption the other person's portion of the conversation. The user speaks and reads the responses.
* VideoPhones - These are provided by a number of Videophone companies - either a machine attached to your television, a website to access, or an app to download. I personally support Convo as they're owned by Deaf folks.
* Cell phones - I can't tell you what cell phone would be best for you as that's all personal choice, prices, carriers, and a lot more. But I can tell you about a cool product to use with your cell phone so you won't miss any notifications - a bluetooth vibrating alarm. This connects wirelessly to your smartphone, stick the bedshaker alarm under your mattress or bed (or in your chair or couch), and receive vibration alerts for phone calls, texts, or whatever you set it for.
Now, what about emergencies?
If you live in weather-prone areas, such as myself in Oklahoma (Tornado Alley), you'd want to be alerted for severe weather. I use a Weather Alert Radio with a Strobe light. It does come with a vibrating bedshaker, but I love the strobe light as it helps emphasize the importance of the alert. With the regular lamp and bedshaker I can choose to ignore it - "let hubby get it", but with the strobe light, I know "get up NOW!"
Other resources you can read about adapting your home for hearing loss are:
* 6 Important Fire Safety Precautions for Families with Disabled Children
* Home Alarm Systems for People with Hearing Loss
* Designing & Redesigning Homes for the Deaf
* Hearing Loss affects the Entire Family
If you have other suggestions or questions, feel free to contact me.
Disclosure: Some links contain affiliate links & I may recieve compensation from them.