A loss of hearing should not hold you back from anything. Sign language is one form of communication, but not everyone knows how to read sign language. Technology can assist, by making sounds louder or converting sound to a visual or written message.
Face-to-Face Communication Tools
Assistive technology uses either enhanced auditory or visual signals to help improve the understanding of speech.
For the deaf or hard of hearing, these devices can be used to communicate with a non-signer. The devices are either dedicated, mobile apps or computer technologies. Dedicated devices are similar to instant messaging while sitting face to face and do not require WiFi or other connectivity.
Face-to-Face Sound Amplification
These devices pick up the speaker’s voice through a directional mic that drowns out ambient sound. They are used by those with hearing loss, in conjunction with a T-Coil enabled hearing aid, standard headphones or earbuds.
Used for lectures, meetings or large events, the speaker wears a transmitter to send sounds directly to the receiver, which is a hearing aid worn by the person with hearing loss. FM systems can also be used with standard earbuds and headphones for those who do not use hearing aids but need sound amplification.
Hearing loss makes it difficult to have conversations on traditional phones. Thanks to advances in technology, there are many options for landline and cell phones designed to be compatible with hearing aids and cochlear implants.
A telephone with a video screen enables two people who know sign language to communicate directly with each other. A hearing impaired person can also speak to a non-signing person through a video relay service in which an interpreter facilitates communication between the two.
For those with hearing loss who still have some functional hearing, these phones have built-in amplifiers that vary in range of decibels, have variable tone selectors and loud ringers.
These phones use voice recognition technology to display captions of everything the caller is saying. Most caption phones use digital, internet based services for the voice recognition. For analog caption phones, a captioning service is required. Both parties speak into a standard receiver.