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

abstract art with flash of pink

If you’re deaf and hard of hearing, you are probably using or looking into a visual alerting device to help you be aware of things calling for your attention. But, unfortunately, in a world where sounds are used for communication, you often can’t respond in time, making life problematic and difficult and making you feel more excluded from our society.

As a person with hearing loss, you have terrific peripheral vision. We understand that this won’t apply to people who are deafblind, but studies have shown that people with hearing loss physically change their eyes to expand wider to see more things at the corner of their eyes. You unknowingly open your eyes to see more things to gain awareness of our environment. Without realizing your brain tries to adapt, you can see much more than most people with hearing. 

With a wide view, visual alerting devices for the deaf and hard of hearing are a great solution to many of the lack of awareness problems. There are three brackets of devices that you can benefit from using your solid peripheral vision. We’re here to help you know all of your options.

One thing to note is that visual alerting devices rarely act as stand-alone devices. Instead, they are usually part of a system that allows you to gather insights and send a signal to the visual component of the device.

Flashing Lights

Lights blinking repetitively is one of the most common alerting techniques. They are often used in fire, smoke, carbon monoxide, or building evacuation alarms. In addition, lights that are known as strobe lights can be effective. Strobe lights are not easily portable and usually hardwired into the building. However, they work effectively to attract attention due to the extreme light intensity. But it is not as effective when people are sleeping.

Your camera flashlight can serve similar purposes. Many people with hearing loss like to use the camera lights on the back of their smartphones to alert them to app notifications. The only thing is that your screen will need to be facedown.

Smart Lights & light bulb

If it isn’t a strobe light, it could be a halogen or LED light that is available to be used. How they are used varies between visual alerting devices is important. One common way is to have an alerting system that controls the lights to attract your attention to an event. Sometimes it gets your attention because the lamp is lit up by controlling the light bulb and other times is a device with a built-in light that glows up in white or different colours.

Light Control with Plug-in Lamps

Some visual alerting devices have a system that plugs into your electric outlet and uses your lamp to flicker the lights on and off.

With the trend of smart home technologies, smart lights are other ways that you can get notified. Most smart lights have an app configured to turn on or off (or possibly flicker) based on specific rules. Some of the rules can connect with other smart devices in the home. For example, if you were hearing, you might be able to listen to footsteps without issue and be informed that someone is walking near your property. But for you, you rely on your smart motion detector. This detector may have advanced features that can connect to your smart light to turn on when someone is approaching your property. 

Smart lights bring more technical capabilities, such as changing the light colour to attract your attention. For example, imagine your lights turning red and the room at night glowing in a non-white colour to alert you to an event. 

Receiver with a glow

Some companies sell an alerting system that has multiple devices, including two major components called a transmitter and receiver. The transmitter does the job of knowing when to alert you to everyday household notifications, such as the doorbell, telephone ringing, or smoke alarms. The receiver takes command from the transmitter and displays or vibrates the information to you.

Some receivers have lights built into them. So that when the transmitter communicates information, it lights up and/or blinks on command. 

Visual Display 

At times, devices have a built-in display with images that light; at times, it can be your smart device and smart tv that provides a visual display.

The challenge with having just a flashing light is that it tells you little about what is going on other than that something has happened that needs your attention. A visual display that provides the extra information can be found on some alerting devices. Another thing is that Light visibility is best when there is no known glare or natural light that power the lights.

You may see symbols of baby cries, doors, or fire to let you know the exact purpose of the alert. You might even have screens with text outlining a message, like Notification alerts on your smartphone or across your TV screen for a broadcast emergency alert. 

Other times and more advanced visual displays are flat screen tv displays in public places that are taken over from their usual visual ads but replaced with important information like warnings at the subway station.

Visual notifications in visual alerting devices for the deaf have been helping many people with hearing loss become aware of their environment when access to haptic or vibration is not always possible or available in public spaces. Lisnen’s app forms that bridge between the environment and senses that people like you need when it’s challenging to get the notification that you need in the spaces that you are living, be it temporarily or long term.

Get More Like This

The world is out of earshot for us! Here at Lisnen, we try to make sense of all that noise. Find new insights, resources and news bi-weekly in your inbox by clicking the button below.

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