I was asked a question about how technology has benefited the Deaf community, so I did some research:
Deaf Alarm Clock:
A deaf alarm clock is an alarm clock that is usually hooked up to a louder alarm, a strobe light, or a vibrator.
An alarm clock with a louder alarm will wake up a person with minimal hearing loss. When the alarm clock goes off, it is much louder than your average alarm clock, and most people with a small amount of hearing loss are able to hear it.
An alarm clock with a strobe light will wake up a person with more severe hearing loss. The strobe light is connected to the alarm clock. When the alarm goes off, the strobe light will flash brightly and wake the deaf person up.
An alarm clock with a bed vibrator will also wake up a person with a more severe hearing loss. The vibrator is connected to the alarm clock and is also attached to the bed. When the alarm goes off, the bed will shake and wake up the deaf person.
An alarm clock with a pillow vibrator wakes up a severely deaf person as well. The vibrator is connected to the alarm clock and is placed under the deaf person’s pillow. When the alarm goes off, the pillow will shake and wake the deaf person up.
You have probably watched television. And you have probably pressed a button on your remote that makes white words with a black background pop up on your screen (either on purpose or by accident). These words actually follow the dialogue and sounds of the TV show you’re watching!
If you are hearing, you probably thought that this was quite repetitive. But for deaf people, this is fantastic!
Closed captions are hidden in the signal that your television receives. So, even if you can’t see them, they’re there! If you want to see the captions, you need to have a caption decoder (most TVs have one now). When the decoder is turned on (when you press that magic button), you can see the captions…
By law, all television programs are required to have closed captioning. All TVs need to have decoders built in now as well.
In 1964, Robert Weitbrecht, a deaf scientist, developed an acoustic coupler that converted sounds into text and vice versa. Weitbrecht’s technical abilities, along with the financial, political, and marketing assistance of James Marsters and Andrew Saks sparked an industry that radically changed the quality of life for deaf and hard of hearing people in the United States. The result of their labors was called a TTY, or teletypewriter, and later a TDD, shorthand for “telecommunications device for the deaf.” By using a standard telephone handset placed on a coupler, the TTY transmitted and received information and translated it into a printed text via a teletype machine. A flashing light connected to the TTY alerted the deaf person that the phone was ringing. Access to this device meant deaf people could place a phone call to a friend, a Deaf club, or anyone who also had a TTY.
There are also ways to connect door bells to the lights, so the lights flash inside of the house when someone presses the door bell. And of course things like texting and video chat make communication much easier and accessible. Later I’ll make a post about hearing aids and CIs.