How assistive technologies are helping the deaf

Hearing loss is more common than many people may recognize. According to the World Health Organization, roughly 5 percent of the global population requires rehabilitation to address disabling hearing loss, and estimates suggest that number will double by 2050,

when more than 700 million people are projected to have disabling hearing loss.

Disabling hearing loss can make life more challenging, but the National Deaf Center on Postsecondary Outcomes notes that various assistive technologies can help individuals overcome hearing loss. Though such technologies can be invaluable, the NDC urges individuals considering them to learn about the advantages and limitations of such products before deciding which one is right for them.

Cochlear implants

The NDC notes that cochlear implants are electronic devices that are surgically implanted under the skin behind the ear. Cochlear implants utilize electrodes placed in the cochlea, or inner ear, to stimulate the auditory nerve of individuals who have substantial and permanent hearing loss.

The NDC reports that cochlear implants are not necessarily ideal for everyone with significant hearing loss. That’s because no two brains are the same, and it’s difficult to predict how well a given person’s brain will interpret the new auditory signals the implant is sending. In addition, the NDC notes that certain types of hearing loss cannot be remedied with cochlear implants.

Telecommunications

According to the NDC, telecommunications technology has evolved considerably in recent decades. That evolution has made it easier than ever for deaf individuals to communicate.

The NDC notes that telecommunications technology for deaf individuals is an umbrella term that includes telephone devices, platforms and services that are employed when standard phones are ineffective. The NDC identifies three primary telecommunications services:

  1. Video relay service (VRS)
  2. Telecommunications relay service (TRS)
  3. Video remote interpreting (VRI)

Regulated by the Federal Communications Commission, VRS and TRS are free programs, whereas VRI is a fee-based service. TRS is a text-driven service that, unlike VRI and VRS, does not employ video.

Visual fire alarms

Visual fire alarms are another assistive technology that can improve the lives of individuals with significant hearing loss. These systems, which are required by law in various countries, make it possible for deaf individuals to safely evacuate buildings and other areas in emergency situations.

Assistive technologies play vital roles in helping individuals with significant hearing loss overcome the challenges of such losses. People with hearing loss are urged to seek the advice of a healthcare professional if they are considering assistive technologies.

Source: Metro Creative Services