Alerting Devices for the Home
What is an alerting device?
Alerting devices make a person aware of a particular sound
by making the sound louder, flashing a light, or using a vibration
to get one’s attention. An alarm clock with an exceptionally
loud ring is one example. Some people use alerting devices
before they are ready to commit to wearing hearing aids, particularly
if they are only having difficulty in certain situations. Other people use alerting devices in addition to their hearing
aids. Most people with hearing loss can benefit from an alerting
device that makes the sound louder.
Typically people who are hard of hearing prefer to have their
items produce a louder sound. It is often difficult to "switch"
to a flashing light system or a vibrating system. However,
many times people need to hear the phone, doorbell or alarm
clock at night when they are sleeping and not wearing their
hearing aids. This creates an even more difficult situation. People who have severe to profound hearing losses may want
to strongly consider a flashing light or vibrating alerting
system. The Americans with Disabilities Act requires alerting
devices to be placed in schools, stores, hotels, theaters
and other public places, as well as places of employment.
- Flash a light,
- Vibrate, or a combination of the three.
Types of Alerting Devices
There are four main alerting devices used to improve the
quality of life for individuals with hearing loss:
- Smoke detectors
- Amplified telephone ringers
- Amplified doorbells
- Alarm clocks
Being able to hear a smoke detector is a critical safety
issue. The alarm that is emitted from smoke detectors is extremely
loud (90 dB +). Fortunately, most people, with the exception
of those with a profound hearing loss, will be able to hear
the alarm. For people who are unable to hear the audible alarm
of a smoke detector, there are smoke detectors that have a
flashing strobe light.
However, these smoke detectors require electricity to power
the strobe light. In the event of a power failure or an electrical
fire, the battery backup is only powerful enough to power
the audible alarm, leaving a person who is unable to hear
it in an unsafe position.
Because of the extreme nature of this safety concern and
the need for individual solutions, we are not going to discuss
fire safety at length, and we recommend that you contact your
local fire marshal for assistance.
Amplified telephone ringers
Amplified telephone ringers increase the volume of the ring
itself. There are three types of amplification available:
- Add-on amplifier. This amplified ringer can be
plugged into any phone line. Typically there is the option
of changing the volume, pitch, or pattern of the ring to
best accommodate hearing loss and personal preference. Add-on
amplifiers are very flexible.
- Built-in amplifier. These amplified ringers are
part of the telephone itself and are often included with
an amplified telephone. There is a limited choice of ring
patterns and pitches.
- Portable telephone. Some everyday telephone equipment
such as cordless and cellular phones can help people who
might have trouble hearing the phone ring in another room. Cordless and cellular phones often have clips that one can
attach to a belt. This makes the phone easier to hear when
Amplified and flashing light doorbells
Amplified doorbells consist of two units: the transmitter
(the doorbell itself) and the receiver (the chime box). The
transmitter can be wired into the existing doorbell. Installation
requires some basic knowledge of wiring. There is also a unit
with a wireless doorbell that sticks right outside the door
with adhesive or screws, so it essentially requires no installation. The receiver is a chime box that plugs into any electrical
outlet. The chime box is extremely portable and can be easily
moved from room to room, depending on one’s needs. Additional
receivers can also be purchased. You can plug a lamp into
a unit that will cause the lamp to flash when the doorbell
alarm clocks are typically no more difficult to use than a
regular alarm clock and they offer the same features, such
as snooze button, large-read display, and backlight. It is
also common for amplified alarm clocks to offer the option
of a flashing light and/or pillow vibrator. There are some
clocks which use the alerting light as a reading light. Some
alarm clocks will allow the user to change the pitch of the
alarm to best suit hearing loss and preference.