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Deaf-Friendly Homes

How Hearing-Impaired Persons Make their Homes Friendly

Can a hearing-impaired person live alone? How will they hear the doorbell? How will a hearing-impaired parent know the baby is awake and crying? These are just a few of the questions people fear asking out loud but they think about. I may not be able to give straight and accurate answers, but what I am sure of is that hearing impaired persons have ways of adapting to different environments and occasions perfectly to help them lead a comfortable and fulfilling lifestyle. Below are a few ways:

Door Lights

Getting some sort of notification from the door is how we know that we have a visitor and recent technology makes it easier for the hearing-impaired people to know, for instance, with door signals in the form of a flashing light. Some of these technologies hang on the back of a door to sense vibrations when one knocks, some are connected to regular lamps, and some operate by remote signaling which pick up signals from the push-button on the door.

Baby Monitors

Technology at its best introduced a device which picks baby cry signals. Such devices are sensitive enough to pick up the sound a waking baby makes. Hearing-impaired parents may use baby monitors, smart-phones, or flashing lights to perceive the presence of sound. Baby monitors are more popular as they can be clipped on your cloth, worn on the wrist, installed on the wall, and set on the table. The different types of baby monitors include the audio-based, those which vibrate, video baby monitors, and there exists some with all these features. Most hearing-impaired parents prefer the ones which vibrate because they can feel the vibrations when the baby cries.

Wake-Up Alarms

Wake-up alarms either flash a light or vibrate. A deaf person may choose to put it under a pillow or mattress, or just near the bed. The alarms are sometimes too loud for the hard of hearing people who use cochlear implants or hearing aid, therefore, the sound should be enough to accommodate one’s condition. For the blind and deaf, some of these alarms are engraved in braille features, which can be used by deafblind people.

Making Your Home Deaf-friendly

It is important to make our homes deaf-friendly to accommodate our friends and family with this type of disability. Question is, how can one make his/her home deaf-friendly? Here are a few tips:

Proper Lighting and Color

Hearing impaired persons use their eyes and hands to communicate, thus, they prefer room lighting which promotes visual acuity while not straining the eyes. It is essential to have soft lighting that provides clear visibility without creating glare.

Apart from the lights, the color of wall painting may also improve sign language communication. Solid and neutral colors which contrast well with the human skintone for the interior walls are preferred because loud and conflicting shades of colors distract a hearing impaired person’s concentration. Solid and neutral colors allow a person’s hands to stand out more clearly.

If the home lighting and color is unsuitable, a deaf person can easily loose concentration and may even get eye fatigue. Additionally, you can make use of large windows which allow enough sunlight as long as they are well shuttered to reduce outside noise and curtained well to prevent glares.

Acoustics

These are features of a home which affect how sound travels within. They can either make sound easier to identify or hard to separate. For instance echoes or reverberation may cause a lot of noise and distraction for the hard of hearing who use hearing aids or cochlear implants. To balance acoustics in your home to accommodate the hard-of hearing, you need to ensure your house is built with the following in mind:

Lower Ceilings – the position of a ceiling maximizes or minimizes noise in a home. It is important to filter out unnecessary noise to be able to clearly understand and concentrate on what is communicated, especially for those who use cochlear implants and hearing aids. Lowering the ceiling improves their hearing acuity because it filters out unwanted, potentially echoing, noises that are at times painful. If you have a house with high placed ceilings, then you may consider installing acoustic ceiling tiles which are designed to absorb sound; hence creating a quiet home environment.

Flooring– having flooring materials that block and absorb sound, vibrations, and any other unnecessary noise is essential for a deaf-friendly home. A hard floor surface carries sound which may irritate an individual using an assistive device. A wooden floor on the other hand produces squeaking sounds which distracts concentration. All these can be prevented by installing floors made for acoustic rooms, using carpets or tiles made for the same, and using an underlayment specifically made for acoustic sound absorption. However, some deaf individuals may want to communicate or get each other’s attention through vibration, so they stamp on hardwood floors to create vibrations to capture attention of a different deaf person within, or outside, the room. In such cases, vinyl or hardwood works better instead of stone or carpet.

Final Verdict

It can be a challenge to create an environment that is friendly to those with special needs and with the hard of hearing and deaf they rely on other body senses apart from hearing to understand the world around them. Making your home deaf friendly is a step towards social inclusion of people from the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community.

By: Linzer Kibebe

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