Accessibility for the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing: How Do They Function in the Real World?

 

There are a lot of accessibility that Deaf or hard-of-hearing people take advantage of to help them function and be successful in the real world. In addition, there are a few routines or interactions that are different from hearing people. For instance, have you ever wondered how Deaf people know when the doorbell has rung or an alarm has gone off? Well, Deaf people have a system installed around the house or apartment. When someone rings the doorbell the system triggers the light to flicker. The light will also flash when someone is calling the house. A Deaf person founded a new innovation known as SquareGlow which has various lights that represent different alerts. Here’s a video that explains more about SquareGlow and how it is being used.

Deaf service dogs is another way the Deaf can be notified on what’s going on in the house. The dog will start barking by the door if someone rang the doorbell. They will bark and go and wake the owner up if there is a break in. Here is a video to watch on how hearing dogs alert Deaf people.

How does someone wake up if he or she cannot hear an alarm go off? Well, there is a device called a bed shaker that is placed under the mattress, so when the alarm goes off the bed shaker will start to vibrate, waking the person up. Also, some people have both the bed shaker and light flicker as a technique to wake up. Check out this video here.

How does a Deaf person call 911? A hearing person founded an app, called Deaf911, that allows his grandmother who is deaf to access 911. Deaf911, still in the launching process, is an app that allows Deaf people to easily text 911.

Texting is one of the biggest Deaf and hard-of-hearing communication methods. However, people still need to call their doctors, banks, etc. to set up appointments, report fraudulent transactions, etc., so how does this exactly work? Well, there is a service that Deaf people can sign up with known as ZVRS Purple that has an interpreter that translates ASL into spoken English and vice versa. For hard-of-hearing, there are various apps, one example is Innocaption, to use that captions phone calls and voicemails. There is an app known as Glide, which is popular in the Deaf community. This allows Deaf people to send video chats to each other without actually video chatting each other live like on Skype or FaceTime. Glide can also be used to text each other as well. If a Deaf person is ever in a group conversation and cannot easily follow along, the Ava app captions real-time conversations. In schools there are either ASL (American Sign Language) interpreters or CART known as Computer Assisted Real Time that captions the teacher word-for-word. It is the same concept as watching movies with Closed Captions. 

How do Deaf people communicate when ordering food or conversing with others? Deaf people will normally write their orders in the phone or on paper, then show it to the waiter/waitress. The communication between the Deaf person and hearing person is commonly based off of gestures and pointing. Surprisingly, there are a lot of people out there who know a bit of sign language too. How cool is that!?

Deaf people can do anything except hear. Although Deaf people have to work twice as hard as hearing people to communicate with the general public, there are so many new innovative technologies that aid in communication for the Deaf community.

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