Alerting Systems

door knockerThe most typical adaptation for a house occupied by people with hearing loss is the use of signalers, or additional alerting systems that tell occupants when the phone is ringing, a visitor is at the door, smoke or a fire has started, or baby is crying. Signalers flash strobe lights, make a loud sound, vibrate, shake the bed, or a combination of these. A basic unit is used for one room only. Deluxe models facilitate signalers in multiple rooms and many are wireless. Alarm clocks with bed-shakers are available where alerting systems and listening devices are sold. Here is a website that identifies wireless doorbells for hearing impaired and provides product reviews. 

Hard-wired capability is recommended in the home with a smoke alarm so that a fire starting in the basement will activate smoke alarms on all floors. A strobe light alerts the house occupants. Another choice is a wireless system, however this system is not activated until smoke/noise reaches the smoke alarm on any given floor. The type of home (apartment, house, town home, etc, (along with personal preferences) are factors in determining which system is most appropriate.

Home Modifications
Keep these basic adaptions in mind the next time you change houses or apartments:

Since a person with hearing loss may not be able to hear a visitor's voice on the other side of his or her door, a view panel (a window or side panel) helps identify visitors. A view panel is preferable to a typical peephole because it's easier to see through. One should be installed in an entry door or beside it—away from the lock so as not to invite burglaries. It may be easiest to buy a new door that already has a view panel or window. (If you're an apartment dweller, have the other door stored with the building and take this one with you wherever you move.)

Occupants should consider personal lighting requirements to facilitate optimal communication. For instance, a person relying on sign language or lip-reading will avoid facing light directly. Glare or mirrored reflections should also be avoided. Keeping curtains and blinds open in the daytime will provide a connection to the outside environment and a way to "see" what can't be heard, including weather conditions.

Flooring is another important consideration. If background noise is problematic, wall-to-wall carpeting absorbs sound. However, if occupants depend on feeling vibrations in the floor, thin carpeting or rugs, linoleum, or hardwood floors work best.

When building a new home, it is helpful to control ambient sound by locating the HVAC system (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) in a remote part of the home, as well as insulating the duct.

To facilitate lines of vision, arrange your furniture to allow for a lot of open space. Open space facilitates lip reading. Avoid tall, partitioning bookcases that block the view and look for homes or apartments with a nice flow of space. For example, look for a living room that flows into an attached dining room and then into the kitchen. But avoid loft living if ambient noise is a problem.

Siren Detectors for Cars
A siren detector electronically detects the high decibel sound waves of an ambulance or fire truck for a driver with hearing loss or deafness.


To find out where to get a siren detector or for other types of automobile modifications, contact NMEDA (National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association) at (866) 948.8341 or email to locate a dealer near you.


Visor Cards for Hard of Hearing and Deaf Drivers
These cards attach to your visor on the driver's and passenger's side to alert police that you are either hearing impaired or deaf.  They can be very useful to diffuse a touchy situation.  This website has instructions for use.


NOAA Weather Radio
This radio receives National Weather Service warnings, forecasts and other hazard information. It has had some design modifications to meet the needs of the deaf and hard-of-hearing community. It is battery operated and includes visual and vibrating alarms (pillow vibrator, strobe light, bed shaker) and simple text readouts. Three warning lights for Statement, Watch or Warning. Also available with large print and/or Braille versions. Available from Harris Communications (see below), and others. 


National Fire Protection Association
Has a downloadable document of safety tips for people who are deaf or hard of hearing.  Also links to manufacturers, distributors and retailers of smoke alarms that meet U.L. Standard 1971 for people who are deaf or hard of hearing.


Vendors and Resources

Assistech Special Needs
Specializes in assistive products for deaf and hard of hearing, blind and visually impaired, speech impaired and physically challenged. Carries alerting systems, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, telephones, clocks and watches and more.


Carries amplified telephones, notifications systems and assistive listening devices. 


Global Assistive Devices, Inc.
Manufacturers of assistive devices


Harris Communications
Carries may products for hearing loss, including the Silent Call Bed Mat Transmitter which signals a silent call 318MHz receiver that someone is no longer in bed (on the mat).  Useful for deaf parents or caregivers. Also has the Mobile Phone Signaler which detects the vibration on your phone and activates a strobe light or bed shaker.


Hearing Loss Web
Information site covering basics, issue, hearing aids and medical treatment.


Carries alerting devices, baby alerts, smoke detectors, vibrating watches, weather alerts and more.


Hitec Group International
Sells all types of alerting devices


Info to Go
Information clearinghouse sponsored by Gallaudet University—National Deaf Education Center


LS&S (Learning, sight and sound make easier. )
Specializing in all types of assistive devices for persons with visual or hearing impairments including alerting systems, clocks and watches, smoke detectors, wireless doorbells and flashers and more.


Lifetone Sleep Safety
Carries bedside fire alarm and clock. This product is developed to listen to the frequency of a standard smoke alarm.  It provides an alert with 4 different signals: a loud, low pitched sound, a vibrating bed shaker, a baritone voice saying "Fire! Get out!" and the word FIRE in large text against a flashing orange backlight. Check with your local fire department as many provide these via Fire Prevention and Safety Grants.


Carries a louder, lower frequency smoke detector for people with mild or moderate hearing loss that do not wake to typical smoke detectors.


Carries alerting devices including bed shakers, doorbell signalers and medical alert systems.


Sharper Image
Carries the Silent Vibrating Alarm Watch


Silent Call
Carries products for doorbell and phone call alerts as well as severe weather.


Sonic Alert
Signalers, alerting systems, clocks, receivers


Ultratec, Inc.
A broad range of singalers and phones


This company manufactures smart phones in China but also makes an inexpensive fitness band called the Mi Band that has a vibrating alarm system.


Note: Infinitec Inc. does not endorse or recommend the above-mentioned products and has no liability for the results of their use. Infinitec Inc. has received no consideration of any type for featuring this product on this Web site. The information offered herein is a summary; it is not comprehensive and should be carefully evaluated by consumers with the assistance of qualified professionals. The intention of Infinitec Inc. is to offer consumers a brief overview of various assistive technology devices and their applications.