Tag Archives: hearing and vision loss

Work and Home Technology for Hearing Loss

Technology provides many solutions, but some people with hearing loss, or their employers or loved ones, aren’t aware of devices that could assist the person with hearing loss at work, home, or during recreation.

Harris Communications has created a downloadable and online Free Guide to Assistive Technology that will help people who have hearing loss, or their employers or family members to explore creative solutions.

Until recently, smart watches were most useful for people who could hear. Now, some smart watches are more friendly for those with hearing loss. photo credit: TechStage Sony SmartWatch 3 Steel Edition _ 3 via photopin (license)
Until recently, smart watches were most useful for people who could hear. Now, some smart watches are more friendly for those with hearing loss. photo credit: TechStage Sony SmartWatch 3 Steel Edition _ 3 via photopin (license)

It includes newer resources, such as vibrating smart watches, and personal listening devices similar to hearing aids that don’t require a prescription, as well as old standbys, such as vibrating alarm clocks and flashing light signalers for many sounds in the home or office. For businesses, they have ADA kits ready with a combination of products.

Why Don’t People with Hearing Loss Know about These Already?

If a person grows up with a strong network of people who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing who provided them with information about tools they could use to make daily living easier, they often know about this equipment. At least, they know about most of it, since new technology is developed often.

If a person gradually experiences hearing loss, they may or may not have resources to teach them about available technology to solve many problems they may encounter.

When a person loses hearing, if they have sight, they will use their sight and residual hearing to assist them.

Living with Less Sound: Using the Other Senses

When our hearing is affected, our others senses help us in new ways. photo credit: woodleywonderworks listen up: ears really are strange looking if you think about it via photopin (license)
When our hearing is affected, our others senses help us in new ways. photo credit: woodleywonderworks listen up: ears really are strange looking if you think about it via photopin (license)

In some cases, both vision and hearing are affected, and a person may use a variety of light or sound products to use their remaining senses as much as possible. The sense of touch is another option.

Signaling sounds with light is one of the first ways a person can get a visual cue for a sound. For example, their door bell may ring, and they may set up their home to have a light flash.

Vibration is another tool. A person may arrange it so that when their cell phone would normally ring, instead it vibrates so they can feel it. They may need other options for when they don’t have their phone on them, such as a flashing light.

Picture of sounds system's adjustment knobs.
Just like in a music studio they alter certain sounds, so do products for people with hearing loss so they can make the most of what they have. photo credit: Sergiu Bacioiu Audio Mix via photopin (license)

Sound may be a tool for people with hearing loss too, and this is much more specific to the person. Each person has a unique hearing range. One may hear in a high frequency range, another may hear medium frequency, and yet another only low frequency. There also many be deficits within those ranges.

People who are Hard of Hearing have learned from experience whether they hear higher women’s voices, or lower men’s voices–or if some sounds are out of their range, such as fire alarms, perhaps.

Many hearing loss products offer superior amplification, clarity, and a variety of ranges so that a person can set them to sounds they may hear. For example, a person with high frequency hearing loss may set their amplified alarm clock to a low tone that will wake them up.

Sound may not be enough of a wake up cue, and people with hearing loss may also use a vibration disc under their mattress to ensure they wake up. Alarms with this ability also often have flashing light function. Sound, light, and vibration are all three available in many alarm clocks for the consumer segment with hearing loss.

Picking the Right Product

Flashing police car light.
Flashing lights aren’t everyone’s friend and may trigger seizures in those with Epilepsy, and migraines in others. photo credit: T.H. Images Police Light Moments via photopin (license)

People may have several disabilities at once. Epilepsy  can be seriously impacted by flashing lights. So may migraines, for those that experience them, so flashing light models are for many, but not all people, and this should be part of determining the right product for the right person.

Where to Purchase Products for People with Hearing Loss or Deafness

Businesses such as Harris Communications have great value within the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community, since they provide specialized products that are difficult to find, and all in the same place. They also provide free shipping.

More Vendors

Hearmore.com has thousands of products and provides free shipping.

Teltex has many products and you can subscribe to their email to receive discounts and special offers.

iAccessibility.com provides iOS solutions for people who have Apple products. It’s powered by Teltex.

You can see a selection of hearing loss products at Amazon here.

Independent Living Aids, LLC provides vision, hearing loss, and mobility products.

If you live or shop in the UK, here is a good technology resource from Action Hearing Loss.

You May Receive Financial Assistance to Pay for the Products

People with hearing loss or deafness may receive assistance purchasing products that assist them with work or daily living. They should contact their state office of Health and Human Services to see which agency may assist them in their state.

Map of the United States on asphalt
photo credit: dalioPhoto SURFACE LINES via photopin (license)

Find your state’s department of Health and Human Services here.

Getting Assistance in Texas

In Texas, the Texas Workforce Commission assists people with Vocational Rehabilitation. This is for people who are going to school or are planning to work.

If you’re new to hearing loss, are no longer working, or can’t work right now, it may be easiest to contact Deaf and Hard of Hearing Specialist to assist you in finding resources you can use. They understand hearing loss and will connect you to the right people and products.

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Where to Connect to DeafBlind Resources

The Sign Shares’ blog has posted the past few articles relating to support people for individuals who are DeafBlind, or who have
both vision and hearing loss.

However, how do individuals seek DeafBlind Interpreters, Support Service Providers (SSPs), or Interveners? How do those who are DeafBlind pay for them?

One of the first stops for assistance is vocational rehabilitation. If an individual has a severe enough disability–and having both
vision and hearing loss qualifies–then most individuals can receive some assistance with services and/or equipment and training they need to maintain their independence from their state’s vocational rehabilitation program.

Here is a list of vocational rehabilitation agencies across America. It lists agencies by state.

Vocational rehabilitation may assist individuals who are going to school or work, as well as individuals who aren’t working and need support to live, work, and play independently.

Once an individual is a client of a vocational rehabilitation program, they may assist with the cost of DeafBlind Interpreters and potentially SSPs.

However, federal and state agencies, as well as cities, will provide these services if the individual requests them. They usually need some advanced notice so they have time to make an appointment for the individual to have services. Also, large businesses that serve the public are also required to provide these services as requested.

Schools provide Interveners as needed, and the request for one should be in a student’s education plan. The first step for this is for the student to be enrolled with special education or disability services programs at school or college/university. From there, they can request DeafBlind Interpreters and Interveners to assist with communication and/or learning, as is needed by the student.

While most services can be paid for through vocational rehabilitation, schools, colleges, and universities, as well as sometimes through government agencies and businesses, it
takes extra information to be prepared and learn what is needed for independence.

Joining organizations that have other individuals who have similar needs makes it easier to socialize and learn more about ways to adapt.

There are many organizations to choose from, based on the person’s needs and interests.

Here is a list of nationwide DeafBlind Organizations.

These supports are the beginning for a person who is DeafBlind getting assistance to have the services he or she needs to live the fullest life possible.

How Interveners Contribute to Services for People who are DeafBlind

There are a variety of supports available to people who are DeafBlind. Yesterday, the Sign Shares’ blog discussed the difference between DeafBlind Interpreters and Support Service Providers, or SSPs.

According to the National Task Force on Deaf-Blind Interpreting, there are three support roles for people who are DeafBlind.

  • DeafBlind Interpreter
  • Support Service Provider (SSP)
  • Interveners

While a DeafBlind Interpreter supports formal communication situations, and SSPs may assist with informal situations, guiding, and transportation, Interveners help educate individuals who are DeafBlind in ways that enhance their independence.

According to the National Task Force on Deaf-Blind Interpreting, Interveners often work with students who are DeafBlind, but can also work with children and adults in their homes and communities. These individuals need the one-to-one support of a trained, consistent professional who understands and is prepared to address the needs of the student.

Two people use tactile sign language
Interveners and DeafBlind Interpreters may work together in educational settings, with the Intervener focusing more on meeting individualized educational plan goals. photo credit: Communication via photopin (license)

Interveners team with school staff, family, and community providers to achieve individual goals for the person who is DeafBlind, according to the task force. They are gaining recognition as a service for individuals who are DeafBlind to have access to education under the IDEA, the law that guarantees equal access to education, and within their home and community,

According to the task force, “an Intervener provides a bridge to the world for the student who is DeafBlind” by facilitating access to the environmental information that is usually gained through vision and hearing, such as:

  • gathering information,
  • learning concepts and skills,
  • developing communication and language, and
  • establishing relationships that lead to greater independence.

Qualified Interveners have completed training and credentialed through the National Resource Center for Paraeducators (NRCPara) and may work together with school districts on the student’s Individualized Education Plan, according to the task force.

According to What’s My Role? A Comparison of the Responsibilities of Interpreters, Interveners, and Support Service Providers, the Intervene:

  • “acts in a manner that is governed by the local education agency and federal education laws,”
  • “uses the Individual Education Program as a road map for learning,” and
  • “is considered a paraprofessional and works with, but does not replace, the teacher.”

You can learn more about Interveners at the National Center on Deaf-Blindness and at http://intervener.org/.