Hearing AT can be helpful anywhere that effective communication is needed (e.g., at home, in schools, movies, theater, the workplace, hospitals, and on the telephone). Listening needs vary with the situation and the level of hearing loss. Some challenging environments might be restaurants, meetings, classes, houses of worship, social gatherings, public presentations, lectures, theaters, and home environments – TV, telephone, doorbell, smoke alarm, etc.
Making changes in the environment may be a no-tech way to improve communication. Actions such as facing the person directly, getting their attention first, asking how you can facilitate communication, not chewing food or gum when speaking to them, using facial expressions, and showing respect can prepare your environment for effective communication.
Assisted Listening Devices
Assistive listening devices are amplifiers that bring sounds directly into the ear by improving what is known as the “speech to noise ratio.” There are many different types of assisted listening devices, all with advantages and disadvantages.
Visual or Vibrating Alert Devices
For individuals who can’t hear when their baby is crying, an alarm is going off, doorbell rings, or fire or carbon monoxide alarm are ringing, visual or vibrating alert device gives them visual or motion detection instead.
Since there are different levels of hearing loss, there are also different options for distance communication. Some may need sound amplified over the phone – Amplified Phones, or captions of the conversation to have a better understanding of what is being said – Captioned Phones, or two-way video in order to sign back and forth – Video Phone, smartphone or tablet. Both Alaska Relay and AkCanConnect help Alaskans who need telecommunication equipment. Learn about them here.
In-Person Communication Supports
When a communication barrier existed due to hearing loss or deafness, individuals may take advantage if a number of different tools ranging from no/low-tech to high tech. A pen and piece of paper to a smart device with applications like Flip Writer are examples of in-person communication supports.