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Technology Comes Home.

When Rachel Dubin walks into her condo after dealing with the hubbub of Washington, DC, she immediately feels secure. In her controlled home environment, Dubin, who has bilateral cochlear implants, uses technology to her advantage.

The 35-year-old relies on a variety of assistive devices to alert her to what’s happening in the house. Whether it’s a phone, doorbell, alarm clock or smoke detector, technology keeps Dubin in touch with her surroundings. In fact, Dubin’s smoke detector with strobe light is so effective that it recently galvanized the woman, as well as all of her neighbors, into action.

“Not only can it detect a smoking pan (I’d burned the risotto and was trying to cool off the pot under cold running water), the act apparently sent smoke all over the condo,” recalls Dubin. “It also has a super-loud alarm that sent my neighbors running out into the hallway to look in on me.”

Although her apartment may have looked like a smoke-filled disco complete with flashing strobe light, and Dubin felt a little sheepish about disrupting her neighbors, the technology worked just as designed.

Visual Alerts

Indeed, as Dubin’s experience illustrates, a flasher (or one combined with audio) can be very effective. This kind of assistive device can also be used with the phone, doorbell, alarm clock and baby monitor, providing visual or loud audio cues when some kind of action is taking place.

An alerting system that vibrates may be the right option for you or, if you’d like your alerting system to work with more than one thing—such as the doorbell and the telephone—you can buy a combination signaler. Combo signalers can flash, produce a loud sound, or shake the bed to get your attention.

For parents with hearing loss, portable video monitors provide visual information about a child’s activities, detecting whether a baby is napping or a toddler is attempting to climb out of the crib. There are also options for connecting a cry sensor in your baby’s room to the bedroom lights or your alarm clock.

Phones

While the Internet may quickly be replacing the need for Teletypewriters (TTYs), and Telecommunication Devices for the Deaf (TDD), those with broadband access issues still rely on these older communication solutions. Both TTY and TDD require the caller and receiver to have the same device in order to facilitate phone communication. Those who don’t, use a system called a “relay,” which allows the person with the TTY/TDD to call into a center that houses the same kind of device. There, an operator makes the outgoing call to the third party, and acts as intermediary.

Advancing technology has expanded the number of electronic and digital gadgets now available on the market.

In contrast, if you have an Internet connection, you can now make phone calls via Internet relay. Think TTY for the modern age. Here, the Internet and a computer are used in place of the old technology, with a call center liaison facilitating communication. If the caller signs, or simply wants to see the communication assistant in the relay center, video relay is the answer.

For those who can speak clearly, Voice Carry Over relay may be a good option. Using VCO relay and a specially designed telephone with text display, the caller speaks directly to the other person on the call. The relay center’s communication assistant then types the receiver’s responses for the caller to read. Relay calls can also be conducted over Instant Messenger (IM). In addition, there are several user-to-user, video-calling options like Skype, iChat, and Google video chat.

Captioned telephones function similarly to a standard phone, but caption all incoming and outgoing phone calls. Most units have amplification, and some even have neat features like the ability to program speaker volume based on your audiogram, or answering machine message retrieval.

Today’s smartphones, of course, have incredible communication options and are often customizable to your particular needs. Email, IM or even text messaging can all help you reach out and communicate. The iPhone’s FaceTime feature – which works on WiFi with the iPhone 4 or 4s, and even over cellular on some networks – is a real-time video chat with remarkably clear video quality.

Clocks

For those who travel, alarm clocks designed specifically for the deaf and hard of hearing are essential to avoiding late arrivals and missed appointments. These alarm clocks wake the user with a flashing strobe, a vibration, a loud ringer, or a combination of these options. If you’re sensitive to light, look for a clock that can be dimmed or lit up with the push of a button.

Electronics

Flat screen TVs may be the norm, but the set up can be complicated depending on the connection and additional gadgets you introduce to your entertainment system. For example, if you have a DVD player and a DVR, you’ll have to ensure that captioning still works. Watch out for HDMI connections from devices that don’t have channel tuners—HDMI doesn’t always transmit captioning data. Testing captions in person before any TV or DVR purchase is essential; each model renders captioning differently, and your personal preferences are a key ingredient in the decision-making process.

Chances are that you prefer the TV volume higher than your family or friends, but that doesn’t have to become a bone of contention. Wireless TV amplification devices can enable you to hear through a headset, so that you can set your own volume. If you wear hearing aids or cochlear implants, you can choose from a few different coupling options, including looped systems, direct audio cables, or digital induction via Bluetooth technology. It’s best to discuss these options with your hearing professional to determine which will best meet your particular needs.

The Bottom Line

Advancing technology has expanded the number of electronic and digital gadgets now available on the market. Margaret Winter, coordinator of clinical services in the Children’s Auditory Research and Evaluation Center at L.A.’s House Ear Institute, says that has changed the landscape for those who are deaf or hard of hearing.

“In many cases, hearing aids can now be paired to smart phones and music players alike,” says Winter. “This is great because… so many people go everywhere with these devices, it’s already a part of their lives.”

While technology’s bells and whistles are impressive, it’s how that technology serves your needs that really counts: Connecting you to music, helping you keep track of a toddler, and yes, preventing a burning risotto from starting a fire. After all, home is a place where you should be able to relax and fully participate.

“I’m glad we live in an age where this kind of technology… is available,” says Dubin. “Having alerting devices in my home makes me feel more secure.”

Editorial Staff
I work at Phonak and write for HearingLikeMe.com.

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19 Comments on "Technology Comes Home."

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swisscheese
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swisscheese
The best addition to my home? My alarm clock complete with under-the-pillow/mattress vibrator. It’s incredible because I don’t always hear the alarm clock so the bed just shakes me awake! I love it. Best of all? It was free, courtesy of the State of California. Thanks Cali!
Streamer
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Streamer
Ortingwing,
Just tell your audiologist at the VA what you want or need and they will order it for you. For cell phone and TV you will need a ComPilot and TVlink or ICom and TVlink if you have Phonak hearing aids.
Streamer
Guest
Streamer
Ortingwing,
Just tell your audiologist at the VA what you want or need and they will order it for you. For cell phone and TV you will need a ComPilot and TVlink or ICom and TVlink if you have Phonak hearing aids.
mal0a0
Guest
mal0a0
Hi, this is my first post – new member. I have single sided hearing caused by surgery – not an implant candidate. Other ear has age related deafness and I wear a hearing aid in it. Keep hoping for new solutions for single sided deafness.
BonnieS
Guest
BonnieS
Welcome to HearingLikeMe, Gael, and thanks for the feedback. We intend for this to be a living, growing site based on member interests, so your comment is an important one. Can you give us a few examples of what you’d like to see covered in our “Tame the House” article? That way we can incorporate your feedback into our article update. Thanks!
Sandra676
Guest
Sandra676
Hey Everyone!
I am working on a device that can translate ASL into text. Do you think that people would be interested in a device like this???
045Lora
Guest
045Lora
I am considering putting acoustic tiles on my ceilings. I have all laminate flooring and spouse does not want to install carpet. Does anyone know if this works well?

Gael Hannan
Guest
Gael Hannan
This information is outdated. Hard of hearing and deaf people have gone way beyond TTY and VCO phones. Please provide updated information. Thank you.
ortingwing
Guest
ortingwing
Hi I’m new here. My hearing problems started about 50 years ago, but the hearing aids of that time couldn’t cope with my moderate loss as it was too “notched”. Now of course technology has caught up. Got hearing aids from VA 5 days ago, still amazed at what I have been missing all these years. It’s like I was color blind and can suddenly see all the colors. Now I want to explore the options for using my cell phone and ipod, as well as TV amplification. From what I am reading, I’m assuming that the adaptors use some… Read more »
KaleyM
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KaleyM
@ The Man From Bear River: It is interesting that you recommend Bluetooth above FM – in my experience, Bluetooth can be temperamental – signal interruptions especially around Wi-Fi. For e.g if I am listening to music through Bluetooth while driving and I go past a school or some other intense field of Wi-Fi spots, I get quite a bit of dropping-out on my signal. On the other hand FM also can be sensitive to solid obstacles blocking the signal. The ultimate, and no doubt the “great-grandaddy” of technology is the hard-wire AV cable between my FM adaptor and the… Read more »
Candace
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Candace
Hi Meerpel, I am new on here, this is my first post , hopefully it works! You should contact the Missouri School for The Deaf and Hard of Hearing, I have gone there my entire childhood to get my hearing aids and testing done, they will have all the resources you should need! 🙂
Candace
Guest
Candace
Hi Meerpel, I am new on here, this is my first post , hopefully it works! You should vonactvthe Missouri School for The Deaf and Hard of Hearing, I have gone there my entire childhood to get my hearing aids and testing done, they will have all the resources you should need! 🙂
The Man From Bear River
Guest
The Man From Bear River
The first comment is spot on – stale dated info. But conceptually the idea is still pertinent. FM and blue tooth can do the same thing. Bluetooth has much more potential than FM. FM has been pushed about as far as it can go. It is the grand father of assistive listening. We are grateful for it. If you go to the hardware section of the blog it talks about assistive devices, but that section needs to be updated, including some demonstrable videos of an actual current state of the art hearing residence – not some caricature from 2 years… Read more »
Judy in Indiana
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Judy in Indiana
Hi Meerpel,
I see myself in your daughter when I was 11, TV was very hard for me back then, the best thing for her is turn on your CC ( closed caption ) for her….She will love it and leave it on…..You can go to the Library and get movies with CC also. Buy them with CC. It will have CC on the Pkg.
All TV have the close caption settings. Hope this helps. I do lipreading too.
meerpel
Guest
meerpel
HI! I love having this diaglogue with others. Technology is our biggest concern. My daughter is 11, with mod-severe hearing loss. We could not afford blue tooth hearing aids for her (just the non-blue tooth) but want to know her options for using the tv or computer to her hearing aids, to adjust it to the volume she needs without having the volume too loud for others. Our audiologists here haven’t been able to give us exact items to buy, costs or compatibility. These things are so expensive, it would be nice to try them out or see them in… Read more »
cowboyisdeaf
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cowboyisdeaf
My hearing loss started at age 5 and 3 years later at a state deaf school was fitted with an hearing aid and the rest is history-now am retired, a widow of 35 years of marriage, this single life going onto 5 years really sucks at the age of 70 and wonder if there is another flame out there somewhere that can (we) share the silent and hearing world with me. Video phone are really something so – poke me into a conversations – 352-354-4802
kalec1232
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kalec1232
need help finding locations in gastonia nc
momoney163
Guest
momoney163
Hi I’m Rob, a new member here and my first post. My hearing issue is with discrimination more than anything. So I’d be interested in “hearing” what’s worked for others with discrimnation issues; cell phones, flat screens, ect. Thanks
galeloss
Guest
galeloss
i’m a new member. where can i check out a flashing door bell & a flashing attachment for my home phone?

gale

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