Free Equipment for Deaf and Hard of Hearing

What would you take if you had a choice: to get a million-dollar item for free or a million dollars in cash for free? 

Our love for free stuff is a human phenomenon. Studies have shown that we become irrational when it comes to free stuff. Our mind draws on it like a big, sweet, tasty cake. We go for the first, second, and thirds before realizing what is happening. As a result, our waistline increased, and we rationalized that our clothing had shrunk in the dryer. 

My rant on free equipment for the deaf and hard of hearing

Nothing is exactly 100% free

Like a tempting cake, free stuff takes away our initial pain from spending. We think we are getting all the good stuff and saving our money. Yet, they say free comes at a cost. There’s a truth to that. It may not be immediate, but it can show up later in life without you realizing it. 

The same goes for people with hearing loss who love free stuff. At the start of the pandemic, Zoom didn’t provide free closed captioning. It was an additional cost for anyone who set up the meeting, and many didn’t want to pay.

People in the hearing loss community protested for free captions and won. But I remember reading some arguments comparing closed captioning to ramps for wheelchairs. The argument was that if people in wheelchairs do not have to pay for using a ramp, why should we pay for access? 

While I believe in making things accessible, I disagree with this argument. We don’t see the cost of the ramp because the price has been compensated when you enter the building. If the building is a store, you and others pay when you purchase something.

If the building is your workplace, you reciprocate with the profit you bring to the company. Free things are compensated by time, money, or other resources. Very rarely do we get something for free.

We live in a society where the premium comes with cost, comfort and convenience. If you want to attend a play and get a nice close-up view of the performance, you pay top dollars to sit at the front.

If you want 5-star hotel service, you better open your wallet or buy the basics.

If you prefer discount clothing, you must drive 120 kilometres to an outlet mall or pay more at your local mall. 

Free as a strategy to keep people marginalized

Free, in my mind, continues to marginalize communities. When something is given for free, you accept whatever you can get, and sometimes they aren’t of value to you. Free stuff doesn’t give you control over what you want or prefer to have, nor does it give you complete access.

We need more capital to bargain for and choose what we want. You can use capital to demand the high quality of services and products you want. You can use capital to decide how you choose to live.

See also  How to use 911 for deaf and hard of hearing

As inflation and prices rise, you shouldn’t be constrained to work with what you’re given. You should be growing your income, too. Money gives you that power in exchange for value. Free does not.

You still can get free stuff

Okay, enough of the rant. I get it. You came to learn about the free stuff that you can get your hands on. We live in a free society, and I will not stop you.

Yes, there are plenty of free gadgets to get your hands on. Of course, most, if not all, of them are free.

The government pays for these via your taxes. However, this resource is country-dependent. Not every country behaves the same, and many countries do not provide resources for people with hearing loss.

If you are fortunate to live in a country that supports disabilities, I can assist you and get you what you are looking for.

Low Household Income or Social Assistance Recipients

Free products mainly go to people who need them the most, those with little income, living in poverty or having no income. Hence, programs are available to help provide hearing equipment and devices at no cost.

Foundations

From America to developing countries, hearing aid manufacturers like Starkey’s or Miracle-Ear provide hearing aids at no cost for people who cannot afford them. However, funders or donors mainly donate hearing aids to enable others to get them at no cost. 

Free deaf equipment and also for hard-of-hearing people

This article focuses mainly on government-funded programs that provide free products.

We are not sharing the various charities or non-profits that support people with disabilities through their low-income programs. We are not focusing on student or youth-funded programs because not all of us are under 20 years old. Also, we won’t cover insurance programs because they aren’t free.

You or your employer are paying a fee for insurance. Here, we focus on sharing information on free products accessible to anyone regardless of income or economic status, but by the fact that you have hearing loss.

US

National and state programs will provide financial assistance or hearing aids for donations, but these are mostly income-dependent. However, the following are available for anyone.

Free Strobe Alarms

If you visit your local Red Cross or fire department, you can access a free smoke detector with a strobe light and a bed shaker. These devices typically do not need hard wiring. Further, you may get a house visit to help set your alarm.

Free Phones with Captions

In America, some people still use landlines. For some, this sentence may sound like it comes from the Stone Age. Yet, having your phone call captioned makes life a lot easier. A few brands work with the government to provide free telephone and caption services. Here are a few:

Free Video Relay Services (VRS) Product

When you need virtual interpretation services to communicate with non-signers, it makes sense to get the right technology to make the interpretation services run smoothly. Several companies offer free equipment for the deaf who need remote interpreting services. 

Free video conferencing devices

Sorenson provides Lumina, a videophone you can hook up to your TV. ntouch® VP2 is their video camera for making calls. ZVRS also provides a smart tech system for video conferencing.

Free smart lights

Many companies like Sorenson and ZVRS have a smart lighting system to alert you visually to VRS calls.

Free Facebook Portal

ZVRS and Purple Communications, in partnership with Facebook, provide video calling devices. These touchscreen devices or video camera tools attached to your TV allow you to get connected.

See also  3 Types of Visual Alerting Devices for the Deaf & Hard of Hearing

Hearing aids

If you are a former military employee, Veteran Services provides free hearing aids, and some states provide free hearing through Medicare.

UK

The British government provides grant programs to support people with hearing loss, but these are specific to your circumstances or how you acquired the hearing loss. However, you can get hearing aids for free.

Hearing aids & Assistive Devices

In the UK, the public health company called NHS, located in hospitals throughout the country, provides free hearing aids for those who qualify based on their hearing assessment. Subsequently, NHS will loan free hearing aids.

However, you don’t get to choose which hearing aids you’d like or have access to top-of-the-line hearing aids. Instead, you’ll get the basics and be limited to a few hearing aid brands. So, free might not be the best device to help you hear better.

Can you get free fire alarms in the UK?

Yes, in the UK, like in the US, they provide a safe service for people living in homes. The local fire department can visit and offer a sensory fire alarm to help set up an alarm.

Canada

In Canada, most equipment and devices are free based on income through various non-profits like March of Dimes or government programs like Nova Scotia for deaf and hard-of-hearing workers.

Can you get free hearing aids in Canada?

The quick answer is yes and no. Most provinces will cover the partial cost of hearing aids for adults, but children under 19 can get free hearing aids. However, in Quebec, you can get free hearing aids and assistive devices if you are working or a student. Check out our free resource guide below.

FREE Resource Guide

Are hearing aids becoming too expensive for you to buy? Learn five ways to reduce the cost of your next purchase of hearing aids (Canadians only!).

It’s free. Let us know where to send it.

Australia

Free Hearing aids & devices

Down Under, like the UK, provides free hearing aids for some but free assistive listening devices where needed. Smoke alarms with a flashing light and vibrating pad are not free but at a reduced cost of $629 to $50.

Conclusion

When you are reminded that some people worldwide live on less than $10 a day. Their income is insufficient even to consume any free equipment I shared in this article. I reflect and realize how privileged we are to get free stuff.

Yet, access should be for everyone on this planet, and by growing wealth for better equality.

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

As you found this post useful...

Follow us on social media!

We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!

Let us improve this post!

Tell us how we can improve this post?

Scroll to Top