5 Gadgets That Help The Deaf or Hard of Hearing

Written by on November 6, 2012 in Technology - No comments | Print this page


Devices that can help the deaf or hard of hearing go beyond traditional technologies to provide a wide range of solutions for dealing with everyday challenges. These approaches range from amplification and vibration technologies through to tactile sensors, and also include gadgets that can help to improve learning courses for deaf children. Some of these gadgets are still at the concept stage, while other devices like closed captioning enabled glasses are already becoming a reality. Some of the best gadgets that can help the deaf or hard of hearing include:

1 – Alarm Clocks

One of the main challenges for those who are deaf or hard of hearing is being able to get up with alarm clocks. Responding to potentially dangerous sounds like fire alarms or sirens is also difficult without the right kind of amplification. New alarm clocks that combine pressure with sound recognition offer one solution to these problems. Devices can be wrapped around the wrist, and respond to different noises by inflating and imparting pressure to wake up or alert the user to a noise.

2 – Talking Assists

Primarily aimed at deaf and partially deaf children, talking assist technologies help to reproduce the actions of speech in order to make it easier for users to adjust the volume of their voices. Devices such as the VV-Talker use a technology where vocal vibrations from users are matched up with patterns that correspond to the right pitch or phonetic sound of a word. Over time, VV-Talker instructs users about what the correct amount of effort is needed or a particular sound, as well as how words should be best sounded out for clear pronunciation.

3 – MP3 Players

Deaf and hard of hearing people can experiment with music through special headphones that emit specific vibrations, rather than sound. Gadgets like Shake-Up headphones are able to transmit different vibrations, and are particularly ideal for tracks with high levels of bass. The rumble produced allows users to recognise different tones, as well as specific beats. The Shake-Up headphones, which were developed by Pierre-Antoine Bouzard, consequently aim to provide an alternative way to enjoy music.

4 – Closed Captioning

A more developed technology, closed captioning glasses are already being trialled in cinemas. The glasses feature mini cameras that project closed captioning data from a film onto their lenses. This allows for a personal experience of closed captioning technology within a public space, with users able to adjust the distance of captions from their eyes, as well as the size of fonts. Compatibility with 3D glasses also means that users do not have to switch pairs during films. Sony’s Entertainment Access Glass represents the pioneering device for this technology.

5 – New Hearing Aids

Traditional hearing aids are now being adapted to provide alternatives for deaf and hard of hearing users. One new technology involves shaping digital hearing aids to be more like earrings, which fit into the ear lobe and provide stylish shapes and colours. Smaller microphones and more precise frequency bands for different hearing aids are similarly being produced to provide more options for users. At the same time, hackers are adjusting their own hearing aids to tie into Bluetooth and music systems, allowing for much more personal devices and integration with other technologies.

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Guest blogger and author Aubree Parsons is a journalist. More of Parsons content can be found around the web such as here for The Hurrycane Reviews.


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