Making Homes Accessible for the Deaf & Hard of Hearing

How does a person with hearing loss know there is a knock at the door? Or a mom hears her baby cry at night? How do deaf and hard of hearing people make their own homes accessible and safe? They do it through the use of technology.

Close up of baby monitor hanging on wooden crib
Dana Hoff / Getty Images

Wake-Up Alarms

Wake-up alarms either vibrate or flash a light, and can attach to an existing clock or be part of a clock. They can go under a pillow or mattress, or be set up near the bed. For hard of hearing people, the alarms are very loud. There are also clocks with braille features that can be used by deafblind people.

Door Lights

Door signalers let deaf/HoH people know when someone is at the door, usually by flashing a light. Some hang on the back of a door and sense vibrations, others connect to regular lamps, and some work by remote signaling, picking up a signal from a push-button on the door. There are also wireless pagers that can pick up transmissions from pressed door transmitters.

Baby Cry Lights

Baby cry signals can be part of a broader signaling system or can be independent signaling systems. The systems can be sensitive enough to pick up any sound a waking baby makes.

Smoke Alarms

Smoke alarms come in two formats: hard-wired, meaning that a professional electrician needs to install it, or ready to be plugged in. The alarms either flash bright strobe lights or emit an extremely loud sound. A single transmitter can be connected to multiple receivers to provide alerting throughout a home or building. Vibration systems are also available.

Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Available carbon monoxide detectors operate by either producing a loud, audible sound or by flashing colored lights (usually red). Strobe lights and wireless receivers are also available. The detectors are either stand-alone detectors or used in conjunction with existing alarm systems. Both hardwired and plug-in detectors are available.

Phone Signalers

Phone signalers work by flashing a light or making a very loud sound. They work by being plugged directly into the telephone line and having a lamp connected to the signaler. They can be put on a desktop next to a telephone or mounted on a wall. Remote receivers can transmit a phone signal to other rooms, and there are also standalone models. For those who have video phones, video phone signalers are also available.


Companies that make products in the above categories (in no particular order):

Retail Sources

Products in these categories can be bought through vendors of deaf and hard of hearing products. Some manufacturers also allow you to purchase directly through their websites.

Updated by Melissa Karp, Au.D, FAAA

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