Choosing alerting devices for the deaf or hard of hearing

Introduction

Alerting devices are important products for the deaf and hard of hearing. Most people with 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. Others choose 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 homes.

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 of 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 don’t require us to do all the hearing or listening, and they can still protect us and alert us to the events surrounding us.

How do you find the best alerting devices?

If you have tried searching for an alerting device, you may be challenged with finding what you need and a product that fits your budget. You may also find 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 the 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 ensure you select alerting devices that successfully assist you in never missing 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 inhaling smoke. 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: flashing lights and smoke alarms with strobe lights. They can also be combined with a vibrating device to alert a person with hearing loss.

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 notifications 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 door knock, the doorknob sensor 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 won’t be easy to know if the child is calling for care. Baby cry alert device allows mothers to receive alerts when their baby or children seek their parents’ attention.

Weather alerts

Some places have extreme and sudden changes 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 the deaf and hard of hearing, they could be missing the essential sounds.

Phone ringing alerts

While cell phones have become widespread, they still have 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 miss calls. The phone alert system will help inform you 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 that 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 lines for the deaf and hard of hearing. In another article, I’ve detailed some popular brands and what they can provide for you.

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 alarms. You can use the device with your mobile phone by downloading the app. Their app allows users to customize the colour of the flashing lights. In addition, the iLuv Smart shaker is a transportable shaker that connects to a mobile app to wake you up.

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The features of alerting devices

At times, there needs to be more than one product to have a working assistive device 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 events, and the receiver is the device that takes in the notification from the transmitter to alert the individuals.

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

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

What sets a good alerting device from others?

Coverage Area

Depending on the living space where you plan to use the device, you may need more receivers to cover the areas you use the most. The receiver lives in the area where you spend most of your time. When looking at a product, you want to know the square foot area the product can cover between the transmitter and receiver. This guarantees all products 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.

Obstructions

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

Flexibility with your lifestyle

Depending on your lifestyle, you will probably choose one product over the other. Are you looking for a mobile product that you can pack and go? Some products will require the work of 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 can only receive alerts if you are in just one of the rooms. A product like Sonic Alert provides a 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 costs.

(*) 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 signalling system will be needed and the more it will cost you. Fire alarms are usually the most expensive purchase.

If you need to purchase more than one sound alert notification, it will be best to 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 you need. If you purchase 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 brands. 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 a flashing light, is the standard offering. However, if you are mobile and not standing still at one location in your house or are not sensitive to light, you will benefit from using a vibrating alert. Vibrating alerts or shakers are additional purchases connecting to your receiver. Some are wireless pagers or circular shakers, and others are attached directly to the receiver.

Wearables

Some people prefer to receive alerts on their bodies. This alerting device allows you to go outside and gain awareness of 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 provides sound-only communications, new inventions will be required for alert notifications in the market. Consider apps that can act similarly. Several new apps have come to the market that can alert you to sounds in your environment.

Lisnen

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

You won’t have to deal with 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. We aim to develop a solution that will function similarly if a human can hear it from anywhere. In addition, if you are travelling, 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 reliable, supportive, and user-friendly. Most importantly, when you are living with hearing loss, you don’t want to take chances on missing important sounds. Take preventable actions to care for yourself and your loved ones.

Use your smartphone to receive alerts of sounds away from home!

Get alerts when you need it, wherever you want it

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