Deaf-friendly Vibrating Smart Watches for People with Hearing Loss

The right vibrating smartwatch for the deaf and hard of hearing makes all the difference. Everyone with hearing loss knows that the sense of touch is one of the best ways to get our attention. We need to feel our way throughout life. Evidently, haptic is one convenient way to communicate to get our attention. We often forget that touch is an extremely important sense for humans. Touch allows us to feel a sense of social presence. Newborn babies need touch to survive.

Many deaf and hard of hearing are seeking haptic technologies to replace sounding notifications and alarms. Luckily for us, many mainstream technologies can fill the gap. They serve the purpose of allowing us to receive notifications without the ability to hear.

Criteria for choosing a good smartwatch

Since the smartwatch has been around for many years, we’ve searched several brands to find the best fit. Six things make a great smartwatch for the deaf and hard of hearing.

1. Disturbing family or others while sleeping

A smartwatch will be good for you if you don’t want to disturb others, especially while sleeping. Some alerting devices can be inconvenient, most often if your family or friends have a different wake-up schedule than you.

Many bed shakers may not be suitable for people who do not want to disturb others. Some bed shakers have haptic sensors that are strong enough to wake others in the bed. Also, flashing lights can disturb others who are light sleepers, and some alerting devices are so loud, louder than a fire truck, that they can disturb your neighbours.

2. Meeting Deep Sleepers Needs

Deep sleepers are people who often are people who are not sensitive to noise movements or lights. At the extreme, they can be people who will be still sleeping even if someone shooke them to wake up. Traditional alerting devices that offer bed shakers can work for deep sleepers. But the same intensity is needed to feel any notification regarding smartwatches. Hence, a smartwatch that works for light sleepers may not work for you if you are a deep sleeper. Also a smartwatch that is good to alert you during the day, may not work for you at night.

Deep sleeper trick

Some say that having multiple simultaneous alarms every 3 mins or less apart will help take a deep sleeper into an awake state. When you have one alarm, it isn’t even enough to wake you up right away.

3. Types of Notifications you can receive

Some devices can limit you to the type of notifications that you would like to receive. The most obvious ones are clock alarms. However, emergency notifications such as smoke alarms and other alarms using your smartphone are examples of notifications you can receive built-in or in an app. Other standard notifications you can use with your smartwatch are alerts of new emails or activities on your social media.

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Furthermore, your smartwatch needs a feature that allows you to connect to apps not limited to your phone or the apps it comes with. Suppose you have an app that provides a notification to alert you to an event, and you own a smartwatch that allows you to access notifications from other devices, like your smartphone. In that case, you’re not limited to what notifications you can receive.

4. The purpose of the watch

Most smartwatches serve the purpose of health monitoring and are often advertised as such. Sports watches tend to have strong motors and can help deep sleepers or anyone with hearing loss to get the dual benefit of monitoring their health or fitness.

There are basic smartwatches that you can purchase affordably on Amazon. These watches offer notifications from smartphones, such as phone calls, text messages and social media. However, they may not perform well at waking you up.

A replacement for pagers

Smartwatches can substitute for vibrating pagers. In the early 2000s, vibrating pagers were a popular device to get notified that someone wanted you to call them back. It was convenient before mobile devices can along. In workplace settings and the ability to connect with smart devices, smartwatches may form a dual purpose that will be popular over time.

5. Repetitive usage can reduce the effectiveness

Sometimes people experience a point where their watches don’t wake them up the same anymore. The same vibration and routine often cause our body to get familiar, and it doesn’t respond to the vibration the same way. You want to be able to change the intensity and the vibration pattern every often so your body can respond to the vibration.

You might want to try adjusting the watch by turning the face to the inside of the wrist or an area on your arm where the skin is most sensitive.

6. Matching brands give better performances

Smartwatch brands that make complimentary smartphones have the upper hand. The connection between the watch and the smartphone can be simple and effective. On the other hand, if you purchase another brand of smartwatch to work with your iPhone or Samsung devices, the watch may not pair with ease. Apple, Google, Samsung and others would work intentionally to lock you into using their products.

Our Review of Smartwatches

Some of the listed watches have several models under each brand. It is important to note that some performances on one model differ from others. In this article, I do my best to summarize all the feedback from people with hearing loss throughout the internet and how they feel about each brand.



  • No Bluetooth connection is needed (save battery without Bluetooth)
  • Stronger vibration than Apple Watch but can wear off for some after repeated use.
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  • The watch may change settings without any manual configuration (Known to switch to “Do not disturb” without you doing so)

Apple Watch


  • Theatre mode helps turn the screen off and save the battery.The GPS feature can alert you when you need to turn or stop to reach
  • your destination.


  • Vibration strength may not work for a deep sleeper.
  • Do need to charge within a day or a day and a half, but charging is only 30 minutes

Mi Smart Band 5


  • Comfortable to wear regularly. Waterproof as well.
  • It repeatedly vibrates until you manually turn it off.


  • It may not connect to 3rd party apps for other notifications you can receive.

Samsung Galaxy watch


  • Strong vibration for some wearers.
  • The battery needs to be recharged every 3-4 days. Longer usage than most.


  • Vibration strength may not work for a deep sleeper
  • The watch takes a long time to recharge. You may need a backup watch in between.

Wyze 47mm Watch


  • Longer battery life than most ( 7-12 days)
  • Very affordable in price


  • Restricts usage with popular smartphone apps.



  • Adjustable vibration settings. Even with the lighter setting, waking up a deep sleeper is good enough.
  • Stronger than Fitbit.


  • The touchscreen is sensitive and lights up, especially at night.
  • Some brands are bulky to wear.
  • Costly, depending on your budget.



  • The GTR model has good vibration strength.
  • The battery needs to be charged once a month.


  • It fails to vibrate for reminder notifications from the phone.



  • Vibrate plus added electric shock to get you in the habit of waking up.
  • It can help even the deepest sleepers to be aware at night


  • The shock may be too strong and hurts for some.
  • Pricey for a smartwatch.



  • Vibration strength may not be strong enough for deep sleepers.
  • Affordable price.


  • Poor battery life.
  • The screen shows a small print that is difficult to see for some.

Withings ScanWatch


  • Great design that looks high-end.
  • Strong vibration with an easier way to turn it off.


  • The cost to buy is higher than most.



  • The sole purpose is to detect sounds nearby.


  • Expensive to own without the full feature of mainstream smartwatches.
  • Vibration is not strong enough to alert at night.

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