As a profoundly deaf person, attempting to communicate in a hearing world can be both daunting and challenging.
Yet in an age of rapid technological advancement, there are an increasing range of easily accessible aids and solutions to help make day-to-day life easier.
The problem is that there is often a real lack of awareness of these technologies, which are there to bridge the barriers between those who can hear and those who can’t.
If you are looking for ideas that are both readily available and, in many cases, surprisingly inexpensive, here are 7 options to consider:
- Text Phones – these allow deaf people to stay in touch with friends and family and make business calls. And Text Relay, the next generation text (NGT), can act as an intermediary to convert speech to text and vice versa.
- Speech to text apps – with today’s smart phones, it’s possible to download speech to text (STT) apps. These can help reduce mental exhaustion or cognitive overload.
- Subtitles and signing on TV and films – broadcasters and film makers are now increasingly aware of helping those with profound deafness and subtitles are becoming a more and more common sight on our screens.
- Infrared systems and hearing loops – these are assistive audio systems that can aid communication for those with hearing impairment. A typical system consists of an audio source, an infrared transmitter and infrared listening receivers. Hearing loop systems help sufferers pick up sounds more clearly by reducing background noise.
- Flashing and vibrating alerts – i.e. door bells, fire alarms, alarm clocks and baby monitors, are all reliable and widely available technologies for the home environment, to help with profound deafness.
- Bluetooth streamers – hearing aids with bluetooth connectivity can use today’s wireless technology to help those with profound deafness stay connected to phones, TVs, tablets and other audio devices.
- Remote microphones – now widely available for use at home or work, they offer speech understanding over distance. Ideal in a lecture, for instance, they can be clipped onto the speaker’s clothing and transmit the voice to the at-distance hearing aid.
So the technology is certainly there, in a variety of guises. Some options may be more appropriate than others – depending on your age and lifestyle. But if just one of these suggestions can help you feel less excluded and able to lead a fulfilling life, then we have achieved what we set out to do.
Finally, the poignant tweets below might also give you encouragement, inspiration and belief that others are out there, using technology to help with profound deafness.