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Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Independent living if you are deaf or hearing impaired

The equipment available for deaf and hearing impaired people to use at home includes textphones, listening devices and alerting devices such as specially adapted doorbells and alarm clocks.

Equipment and aids for home and work

Help is available with everyday situations involving telephones, textphones and listening equipment. Extra aids include induction loops which work with your hearing aid, alarms, alarm clocks, doorbells and teletext adapters.

You can get equipment and advice about the different types of aids available from social services, National Health Service audiology departments and voluntary organisations.

Telephone aids

Devices to help you use the telephone include:

  • handsets with inductive couplers
  • amplifiers
  • extension bells
  • text display

The Text Relay service

Text Relay is the national text to voice relay service. It allows you to communicate with hearing people over the telephone network, using a relay assistant.

Text Relay is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Calls are charged at your telecommunications provider's standard rate. There is no additional charge for this service. Because calls from a textphone can take longer, your telecommunications provider should offer a refund on textphone calls.

How to use the Text Relay service

When making a call from a textphone, dial dial 18001 then the full phone number of the person you want to call, including the area code (and international country code if you're calling outside the UK).

When making a call from a telephone, dial 18002 then the full phone number of the person you want to call, including the area code (and international country code if you're calling outside the UK).

Alarm clocks and watches

Alarm clocks for deaf or hard of hearing people can work in different ways. The key features for clocks are that they:

  • vibrate under the pillow to alert the user
  • have a flashing light
  • have an extra loud sound alarm

You can also buy watches that vibrate.

Doorbells and equipment that alerts you to sounds in your home

As well as doorbells that alert you by a flashing light or a very loud ringing bell there are other multi-alerting systems that can be used to attract your attention to different sounds in your home, for example when the telephone rings.

Smoke alarms and fire safety

You can get smoke alarms that use strobed light and vibrating pads to warn you at the first sign of fire.

Vibrating-pad smoke alarms are specially fitted with a vibrating pad which are connected to the smoke alarm and can be placed under your pillow or mattress. The pad vibrates when the alarm is activated.

Strobe lights which are fitted to a smoke alarm will emit a flashing strobe light warning when the smoke alarm is activated.

Linked alarms are connected to all the other smoke alarms in the building, and ensure that if any one smoke smoke alarm is activated, it triggers all linked alarms. This means that even if the fire is some distance from where you are, you will know about it and can leave the building before it gets any closer to you.

It is recommended that you contact a qualified electrician to install linked alarms.

To find out more about these smoke alarms, advice on planning your escape and where to go for help and advice, download the brochure 'Fire safety for people with sight, hearing or mobility difficulties'.

Television and home entertainment

Television subtitles and sign language translation of TV programmes are improving access to TV for deaf and hearing impaired people.

Health and social care assessments

As assessment by your local social services means that a specialist may look at your individual needs so the right support, including equipment, can be provided.

Communication support

Communication support includes British Sign Language (BSL) interpreters, lipspeakers and notetakers. Find out about how it can be arranged and examples of communication support in certain situations. 

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