Hearing impairment is incredibly common in the United States alone, with 17% of Americans suffering from some degree of hearing loss Hearing assistance is available in the form of hearing aids for some, but they are expensive, require maintenance, and don’t always work as promised. Even the best hearing aids don’t completely restore hearing, and they have to be taken out at night.
Fortunately, technology has kept up with the times. There are a variety of living assistance aids and gadgets designed to help hearing-impaired people navigate through common chores. Here are six of the most useful hearing assistance inventions.
1. Flashing light systems.
When someone knocks on the door, the fire alarm sounds, or the phone rings, among other potential cues (crying babies and severe weather events are more possible cues, depending on the system), the lights in the room will flash. Some devices connect to existing light systems, while others rely on lamps or built-in lights in the gadget. Small flashing lights that hang over the tops of doors may be used to alert people when there’s a knock on the door.
2. Vibrating alarm clocks
Without one of these, many hearing-impaired people find it difficult to wake u p. Most alarm clocks ring with a high-pitched noise, which falls into the tone range that many hearing-impaired people have more trouble with. Special alarm clocks are available both for travel and everyday use. Travel clocks are smaller and can even fit on a key ring, and rely on similar technology to that which shakes your cellphone when it’s set to vibrate. Full-sized alarm clocks use a small pad that sits under the mattress and connects to the alarm clock, and vibrates strongly when the alarm clock rings.
3. T-coil head phones
Using conventional, in-the-ear headphones can be damaging to the hearing of someone who is already hearing-impaired. You have to crank up the volume to compensate for the loss, which can actually cause more loss. The old-fashioned type of headphones that clamp over the ears can be painful after a while, as they can make the hearing aids underneath dig into your ears T-coil headphones come in the form of loops that sit around the neck or individual hooks that sit on
the ear behind the hearing aid, and they transmit sound to the hearing aid when it is set to t-coil, the telephone setting.
4. Built-in sound systems.
Some theaters and event spaces have built-in loops similar to the t-coil headphones discussed above, but on a much larger scale. Within these spaces, all you have to do is turn your hearing aids to t-coil and you will hear whatever is being transmitted via conventional sound systems, though there may be a slight delay. These systems are not in place everywhere, however.
5. Visual hearing assistance.
Closed captioning is one of the simplest types of technology available to hearing-impaired people, but there are other technologies available, too. TTY/TDD relays
function with the assistance of a relay operator who listens to spoken words and types them out. These words appear on a scrolling display that the hearing-impaired person’s phone is placed onto, and they type back. This is largely outdated now thanks to text messaging, but is still used in some homes There are also online services that provide similar functionality and transcribe phone conversations live.
6. Skype and a webcam.
One of the handiest gadgets for hearing-impaired people who know sign language is also widely used by people without hearing losses. Skype or another video calling program and a webcam will allow both people to use sign language to communicate. Online text chatting such as Skype also provides can be useful, too, but the ability to sign back and forth over long distances is very useful!
Hearing-impaired people often get by just fine in daily life and activities due to the assistance of devices like these ones. Some of the coolest technologies and gadgets around are available these days, and rapid technological innovation is producing more useful gadgets with every passing year!