Alarms and Alert Systems

The alarm goes off. Beep-Beep-Beep!! Worst sound in the world. You roll out of bed in the dark and stumble to the bathroom . . . Your baby cries in the dark of night, you jump up and tend to his or her needs . . . The doorbell rings . . . You did not expect anyone but are happy to see a friend or family member on the other side of the door . . .

These are all every day sounds that we take for grated that alert us to things in our daily life. Imagine having hearing loss and not being able to hear even these basic alerts. What a scary and confusing place even your home would be.

These are the types of challenges the hearing-impaired live with every day. Hearing impaired alert devices, also known as assistive technology for the deaf, and alerting systems or signaling systems, notify people who are hearing impaired that something is happening, something that they would not otherwise notice because of their inability to hear. These signaling systems will alert the hearing-impaired when regular household events occur. A doorbell ringing, baby crying, phone ringing, door or window opening. These all have safety and security implications especially for the elderly and hearing-impaired living in our country.

These systems use loud sound in the higher tones, vibration or flashing lights to alert the person that something in their environment has triggered the alert. Depending on the complexity of the system it can be programmed for different triggers.

Alerting systems for hearing impaired people have evolved as technology has advanced. With the advent of comprehensive alerting systems, many people who are deaf or hearing-impaired are now in a position to live alone or with moderate assistance.

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Alert systems provide:

  1. Auditory signals that become increasingly louder, amplifying noise from alarm clocks, baby monitors or telephones.
  2. Visual signals, like strobe or flashing lights for notification of telephone calls or smoke detectors.
  3. Vibrotactile signals, a device that vibrates when you are seated or in bed. These devices can also be attached to the person, on a belt or lanyard. 
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Weather alerts generally employ all three types of notification – visual, auditory and vibration. This is very important if you live in an area with storm alerts of hurricane alerts.

In the advent of the electronic age and online shopping, the hearing impaired and their families are able to shop online, for easy to use and install, devices that can be imported from all over the world.

These are just a few examples of the types of systems that fall under the banner of assistive listening devices. Your audiologist would be able to advise on the devices suitable and available in you area.

By Carien de Jager