Choosing alerting devices for the deaf or hard of hearing


Alerting devices are important products for deaf and hard of hearing. Most people with a hearing loss do not always wear hearing aids and cochlear implants. For some, their hearing loss is profound that they are unable to benefit from a hearing device. Other chooses not to wear their hearing aids 24/7. Many deaf and hard-of-hearing people often prefer not to wear their hearing aids, mainly when they are indoors in the privacy of their home.

At the same time, the world is full of sound signals alerting us to all kinds of events. The baby cries because the baby is hungry, the doorbell rings from an unexpected guest, or the fire alarm in the condo building goes off at night. As a person who is deaf and hard of hearing, it can be very challenging to not only hear the sounds but it is more challenging to rely on or get the support they need from the hearing community.

Often the hearing community is not inclusive to our needs. We don’t want life to stop us or our hearing issues to get in the way of life. That is why assistive technology for the deaf and hard of hearing, like alerting devices, has become an optimal solution. These devices doesn’t require us to do all the hearing or listening, and it can still protect us, as well as, alert us to the events that are surrounding us.

How do you find the best alerting devices?

If you have ever tried to search for an alerting device, you may be challenged with finding what you need and a product that fits your budget. You may also find out that there are few sellers in your country and the selections may not be limited to your needs. So what do you do?

Many people have found success by speaking to other deaf and hard of hearing individuals for a recommendation, reading reviews on Amazon, checking online stores like, Canadian Hard of Hearing Association E-Store, or visiting their local hearing care shops. However, you should know a few things before you buy an alerting device. This post will tell you what you need to know to make sure you select alerting devices that successfully assist you to never miss an important sound.

Types of alerting devices

Fire, smoke, and carbon monoxide alarms

When a fire occurs inside a house or building, and within the vicinity of a person, they have less than three minutes to escape the area before suffocating from smoke inhalation. Smoke inhalation is the number one cause of death in a fire accident. Most fires occur at night when someone is most likely sleeping. You can’t rely on your sense of smell when you are deep in sleep because you may never wake up.

There are two types of fire alarms in the market; those that are flashing lights, or smoke alarm that has strobe lights. They can be combined with a vibrating device to alert a person with a hearing loss as well.

Doorbell and doorknockers

These products are designed for the house. The doorbell for the deaf and hard of hearing can replace an existing doorbell or be installed as a new doorbell. Others provide notification by placing a sensor underneath a mat. When the guest gets close to the door, the sensor beneath the mat will trigger a response. Some product hangs on the doorknob inside the house. When the door vibrates due to the knock on the door, the sensor on the doorknob will be triggered.

Baby Monitors

Mothers or fathers of a newborn may find out that they are alone to care for their child. If the child is not in the same room, it will be difficult to know if the child is calling for care. Baby cry alert device allows mothers to receive alerts when their baby or children are seeking their parents’ attention.

Weather alerts

Some places have an extreme and sudden change in weather patterns like hurricanes or tornadoes. The government has set up an alert notification system for residents to take action. These traditional alert systems are sound-based and for a deaf and hard of hearing, they could be missing the essential sounds.

Phone ringing alerts

While cell phones have become used widespread, it still has not replaced landlines for offices and homes. People that are deaf and hard of hearing may not hear the telephone ring and may find out that they often missed calls. The phone alert system will help inform that there is a call.

Clock alarm alerts

It is easy to have someone wake you up in the morning to ensure you are not late for a morning appointment, school, or work. However, if you don’t have the luxury of having that support or perhaps, you have different schedules, having an alarm clock can help. However, most traditional alarm clocks alert uses sounds. Some alarm clocks project extremely loud sounds and it may not be useful to wake everyone around you. A vibrating alert can be helpful as well.

The brands who make alerting devices

A little more than a dozen companies sell alert devices. There are Sonic Alert, Bellman & Symfon, Silent Call, Vtech, Krown, Clarity, Serene Innovations, BRK, Gentex, Kidde, and Lifetone. These companies are also the major players in the alert notification market in North America. Some have been on the market for decades with a range of products for the hearing loss market. Others have one or two product line for the deaf and hard of hearing.

Mobile apps that provide alerts are also trending. Some new players in the space are Leeo Smart (Discontinued) alert. Leeo Smart is a plug-in alert device for smoke and fire alarm. You can use the device with your mobile phone by downloading the app. Their app allows users to customize the color of the flashing lights. In addition, the iLuv Smart shaker is a transportable shaker that connects to a mobile app to wake you up.

The features of alerting devices

To have a working assistive device, there needs to be more than one product to get it running. There is a transmitter, a receiver, and another complimentary device, if you are looking for a vibrating alert. The transmitter is the device that interprets the sounds or event, and the receiver is the device the takes in the notification from the transmitter to alert the individuals.

The receivers are typically built with flashing lights, high-volume sound, or they can have additional components for a vibrating alert. We talk more about the complementary devices or shakers in detail later.

If you are looking for more than one alert notifications, perhaps, you require an alert for fire alarm, doorbells, and the alarm clock; you can purchase one receiver that accommodates all the transmitters that are required. Remember, you can’t mix and match receivers from one brand with another. Each company has designed their product to have you use only their brand.

What sets a good alerting device from the others?

Coverage Area

Depending on the living space, where you are planning to use the device, you may need more receivers to cover the areas that you use the most. The receiver lives in the area that you spend most of your time. When you are looking at a product, you want to know the square foot area the product can cover between the transmitter and receiver. This guarantees all product will operate well. For example, you will require two Bellman & Symfon fire alarm, which acts as a transmitter, on each floor of your home to ensure that you have the right coverage with one receiver. The Bellman & Symfon receiver can be located in your bedroom.


Walls obstructions can prevent your transmitters and receiver from communicating with each other. Some product works best when no walls are obstructing the views between the transmitter and receiver, because the transmitter cannot send signal through the thick walls.

Flexibility with your lifestyle

Depending on your lifestyle, you are probably going to choose one product over the other. Are you looking for a product that is mobile that you can pack and go? Some product will require the work of an electricians to install, others are wireless and some are battery operated.

If you are in many rooms at a time, some brands will not accommodate a change of location. You don’t want to find yourself in a situation where you are only able to receive alerts if you are in just one of the rooms. Product like Sonic Alert provides mobile app to support you in receiving the alert or Bellman and Symfon offer pagers to carry around. These are things you want to consider.

The cost of alert devices

The cost to purchase alert devices is an investment. The expense is not as expensive as a hearing aid, but it is the next significant investment for an individual with a hearing device.

The table below highlights the average cost for a single alert. The more alert notification you require, the more it cost.

 Baby cries
CO2 Alarm
Fire Alarm
Door/Window alerts
PhoneClock AlarmWeatherReceivers
Average cost$58.96$164.51$186.06$127.51$45.28$73.55$111.17$162.62

(*) Prices are shown in US dollars

Expect to pay more than $400 US dollars for one alert notification, for one floor of your home, condo, or apartment building. The more area you require the more signaling system that will be needed and the more it will cost you. Fire alarms are usually the most expensive purchases.

If you need to purchase more than one sound alert notification, it will be best that you purchase the package that allows you to buy the whole system at once. The prices are reduced in this case. However, it is still an expensive upfront cost, but at least you will have everything that you need. If you are purchasing sound signals individually, you will be paying much more than if you bought a set.

The top and most expensive brands for alerting devices

You will find the product price range varies from one company to another. It has little to do with the quality but more about the functionality and flexibility of the product. Bellman & Symfon and Silent Calls tend to have a higher price than most of the other brand. Some companies offer a wide range of compatible products and their prices tend to be more. Stand-alone products tend to have a cheaper cost.

Other options to consider

Add-ons – Haptic & Visual Alert System for Deaf

How you receive an alert is just as important. A visual alert, like flashing light, is the standard offering. However, if you are mobile and not standing still at one location in your house or you are not sensitive to light, you will benefit from using a vibrating alert. Vibrating alerts, or shakers, are additional purchases that connect to your receiver. Some are wireless pagers or circular shakers, and others are attached directly to the receiver.


Some people prefer to receive alerts on their body. This alerting device gives you the flexibility to go outside and gain sound awareness to many sounds beyond the standard hardware devices. Neosensory is one company that has launched a wearable band that allows you to feel the vibration of sounds..

Mobile Phone Alert for Deaf

As technology gets more advanced and particularly provide sound-only communications, there will be new inventions required for alert notifications in the market. Consider apps that can act similarly. There are a number of new apps that have come to the market that can alert you to sounds in your environment.


Our company, Lisnen, is another option providing modern solutions. We’ve taken a transmitter and receiver all into one app. Furthermore, we provided a mobile solution that allows you to receive an alert using your smartphone anywhere and anywhere.

You won’t have to deal with some of the challenges of owning an alert device such as walls blocking the devices from working or purchasing multiple items to receive an alert around the house. If a human can hear it, from anywhere, our app will function just the same way. In addition, if you are traveling, you don’t have to carry another product other than your smartphone which you are probably doing anyway.

Having an alert device should be similar to having a hearing dog. You want something that is reliable, supportive, and user-friendly. Most importantly, when you are living with a hearing loss, you don’t want to take chances on missing important sounds. Take preventable actions when you can to care for yourself and love ones.

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