New technologies for the deaf have been developed over the past few years, making safety easier for the hearing impaired. Most of the population may rely on sound to communicate danger, but new technology adapted for the deaf community can provide additional or supplemental cues that can help anyone get to safety or recruit help when needed most.
Technologies for Deaf Parents
Parenthood has traditionally been a challenging experience for the deaf community, especially during early infancy. Regardless of the child’s hearing ability, babies often develop their own set of cries and gurgles meant to let parents know that they need something. Missing these hungry cries can spell trouble and is often a recurrent source of anxiety for new deaf parents.
Fortunately, new technologies for deaf parents are now coming to the rescue, such as:
This app acts as a translator that converts a baby’s cries into the basic message they are trying to convey. Its algorithms are based on thousands of sound samples from around the world. By activating the app near a crying baby, it will categorize the cry as either “hungry,” “pain” or “fussy” and interpret the intensity of the cry.
While not 100% accurate, the algorithm is constantly being fed with new cry samples and is self-learning, so parents can expect results to improve with prolonged use.
Baby Monitors for Deaf Parents
Using the same basic concept, baby monitors for deaf parents convert the baby’s sounds into another sensory element, such as light or vibration. They provide a great basis for a more comprehensive deaf-friendly alert system and, depending on the system chosen, they can easily be integrated with further alarms and alerts.
For example, Infant Babble Band is a baby sound monitor that is placed inside the baby’s crib to detect whether the baby is crying. However, rather than just providing a sound alert or replicating the sound like a walkie-talkie, its accompanying bracelet will receive a vibrating signal for the parent, who can then go and check on the baby.
Other devices, such as Sonic Alert, can also transmit remote alerts when your baby wakes up. Usually, Sonic Alert devices are paired up with alarm clocks, but if you already have a vibrating pillow or light alarm set up, it can provide a soundless alternative.
Traditional Deaf Technology, Redefined
Technological improvements are now permitting traditional devices to expand their functionality and increase their accuracy.
Cochlear implants, one of the most popular types of prosthetics designed to provide a sense of sound for deaf people, are receiving major upgrades with the Nucleus Profile Plus Implant. This new version permits easier access and removal of the implant (which can turn diagnostic testing such as MRIs into a much simpler ordeal), as well as Bluetooth-enabled custom sound alerts.
Other long-established technologies, although not designed exclusively for deaf people, are also being upgraded and improved thanks to new technologies. For example, SoundSense noise cancellation is now being improved thanks to artificial intelligence predictions. Meanwhile, translator apps are now available for sign language interpretation. MotionSavvy UNI can turn American Sign Language into speech using a tablet-sized portable device.
Safety Technology for the Deaf
Safety and hazard alerts are notoriously reliant on loud, intrusive sound alarms, but even the loudest can bypass the needs of the deaf community. Regular home features, such as burglar alarms or smoke detectors require adaptations in order to provide silent, yet noticeable alarms.
Deaf Smoke Detectors
Smart home suites now allow traditional smoke detectors to pair to a much wider array of devices than just speakers. For the deaf community, strobe lights or vibrating devices (to be placed under one’s pillow) can be easily synchronized with existing smoke detectors, either to replace or to add to the existing sound alarm.
Motion Cameras and Doorbell Alerts
Many home security systems now use motion sensors and connect directly to a smartphone or any device connected to the internet. Usually, this is meant to provide remote surveillance, but it is also a useful technology for the deaf; it can effectively replace sound-based doorbells.
Medical Alert Systems
The immediate reaction in case of emergency is to call 9-1-1, which can be impossible or very difficult for the hearing impaired. Fortunately, alternative medical alert systems can help people get the immediate help they need with Rescu, which is the fastest possible method of contacting emergency responders directly. For example, the Rescu app can send medical, fire or police dispatch to a predetermined location with just a few taps of the finger, no talking and lengthy call required.
For the deaf who live independently or are living alone, this is a life-saving option.