Help For Deaf/Hearing Impaired In Tulsa

Tuesday, September 26th 2006, 10:48 am
By: News On 6

There are some big advances to help people who can't hear well communicate.

News on 6 reporter Emory Bryan says you may not want an alarm clock that vibrates your pillow, but a lot of people can't wake up without it. Its just one way technology can help deaf people - and people who just can't hear well.

Diana Higgins with the Tulsa Speech and Hearing Association: "So there are lots and lots of people especially as we get older, who need these devices and have no idea they exist. They know about hearing aids and that's about it." But there's so much more, and now there's a way to try them out to see what works best for a particular person.

The Tulsa Speech and Hearing Association put together a room full of the latest technology to let people know what's out there. "This is an example of a whole home system of alerting devices." There's a weather radio that flashes the warning and vibrates too. But most of the gadgets help people communicate, where the real advances are being made. "You just plug that into the cell phone and if their hearing aid has a T switch they flip the switch and now the hearing aid picks up directly from the cell phone." That cuts out all the extra noise.

There's a gizmo that turns a door knock into a strobe. And finally, a practical, inexpensive videophone that hooks up to the Internet so people can talk in sign language. It takes out the sometimes frustrating delay of relay systems. And there's now a telephone that displays the text of the conversation, in real time, through a relay. "So the relay operator is repeating what she said and the computer recognizes her voice."

Like all technology, it's constantly changing and becoming more portable and more helpful - for the increasing numbers of people who just can't hear.