A GUIDE TO ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY FOR DEAF PEOPLE

Previous to current technological advances, people with hearing disabilities were limited to using hearing aids to improve their quality of lives. With an increase in technological advancements and medical research, breakthrough devices are now available that make day to day life easier for those people with hearing problems. Based on how they work, these various devices are categorized into either assistive, adaptive, or rehabilitation technology. These aid devices have been invaluable in providing hearing impaired children and adults to live their lives as independently as possible.

Closed Captioning                 
Closed captioning is the text which is displayed at the bottom of a television or movie. A symbol with the letters ‘CC’ displayed in black and white allows viewers to know that the broadcast or film is closed captioned. Closed captioning can also be provided during live programs with a stenographer typing the text for the spoken words. Close Captioning is now also becoming more common with video games as well as more popular games use closed captioning.

Captioning Web: Services, technology, movies and other information on closed captioning.
WebAim: All about closed captioning along with information on products, resources, and an online community.
How to Improve Children’s Speaking Skills Using Closed Captioning: A step by step guide for improving children’s speaking skills.

Cochlear Implants
When patients have severe to profound hearing loss and cannot be helped with hearing aids a device call cochlear implants provides direct stimulation to the hearing nerve of the inner ear. The device is surgically implanted and is sometimes referred to as a bionic ear. The risks associated with this surgery include not restoring any hearing or causing loss of whatever hearing remains. Recipients of the cochlear implants also have a higher risk of meningitis and in some countries the patients are required to go through vaccination to prevent this from occurring. There are strict rules for selecting cochlear implant recipients to minimize the risks from occurring.

Cochlear Implants: How they work and what is involved in their surgery.
Cochlear Implants: Information for cochlear implants for children.
FAQ’s About Cochlear Implants: Answers to common questions about getting cochlear implants.

Hearing Aids
Unlike the cochlear implant, a hearing aid either fits inside or behind the patient’s ear. It functions by amplifying and modulating sounds for the wearer. To be effective, hair cells must be present to pick up the sound vibrations that the hearing aid sends. Even with the presence of a few hair cells, full hearing is not usually restored. The risks with hearing aids are minimal as compared to cochlear implants and including easily cured issued such as ear mold and build up of ear wax.

Hearing Aids Information and Advice: A detailed guide to different kinds of hearing aids available as well as tips for shopping.
Hearing and Amplification: Hearing aid choices for babies and young children.
Hearing Aid FAQs: Common questions and answers about getting hearing aids.

Hearing Loops
With hearing loops, audio signals are transferred directly to a hearing aid via a magnetic field. Companies which specialize in installing hearing loops set up the system in dedicated rooms, usually in areas such as schools or religious buildings. This systems works by drastically decreasing background noise, competing sound, and other audio distractions. The sound is input directly from a dedicated audio source such as a P.A. system or microphone. Not all hearing aids work with this system and must be decided by an audiologist which method to use.

Hearing Loops: All about how hearing loops work with diagrams.
Provider of Hearing Loops: Provide the equipment and information on hearing loops and how to install them in public speaking venues.
Portable Hearing Loops: A website selling devices for portable hearing loops.

Text Telephones
Text telephones provide a written script on a display screen of the conversation carried out. Both parties are required to have a text telephone for the system to work. The telephone has a QWERTY style keyboard to allow the disabled person to type out messages. Most text telephones also have a printer which allows the printing of the conversation. Development is now being done to allow the internet to replace the need for text telephones.

How Hearing Impaired Telephones Work: An introduction to text telephones with details on the technical aspects of the technology.
Text Telephones: Providing text telephones and a description of how they work.

Assistive Technology Devices
A number of assistive technology devices are available to the hearing impaired which pair visual signals with audio signals for day to day devices. Examples of these devices are door bell and telephone light devices. Innovative devices such as vibrating fire alarms which can be placed under a pillow not only make day to day life easier but also safer.
Other than visual alert signalers, amplified devices including doorbells, phones and alarm clock systems are also available. These may or may not be supported by visual alert mechanisms but their sounds are amplified to make hearing their sounds easier.

Types of Assistive Technology Products: Microsoft’s website for assistive technology devices that are provided by them.
Sonic Alert: A company which provides everyday amplified products for the hearing impaired.

Resources
Assistive Technology for Hearing Impaired Students: Details on how to make assistive technology usable in the educational environment.
The Listen Up Web: An archived website with excellent information on different types of assistive technology available.
Disabled World: A site dedicated to various assistive technologies available for the disabled.
What is Assistive Technology: A knowledge base for assistive technology in Education?
Assistive Technology to Meet K-12 Students: Technologies available and resources for assistive technology in the classroom.
Technology Article: Assistive devices help challenged kids get the most from learning.
Funding Hearing Aids for Children: (.pdf file) Different funding programs available to provide hearing aids for children.
Exceptional Children Resources: A website dedicated to providing resources for children with special needs.
Assistive Technology in the Classroom: (.pdf file) The use of assistive technology for special children in the classroom.
Favorite Books and Videos: Books and videos dedicated to assistive technology.
Deafness Forum Australia: A group of people dedicated to finding solutions and advocates issues for the hearing impaired in Australia.