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Assistive Technology

Assistive technology (AT) is a generic term that includes assistive, adaptive, and rehabilitative devices for people with disabilities.

The Resource Guide (pdf) contains detailed information for advocates on using the devices described below, including safety considerations.

Hearing Aids can enable a person to pick up more sound from their surroundings. This can allow them to pick up enough sound to hear, or allow them to be aware of sound around them, providing more information about what is going on. For some people, a hearing aid is enough to allow them to pass as “hearing.” Others who use hearing aids may require additional accommodations.

Amplifiers for phones and other devices allow someone who is hard-of-hearing to use everyday devices.

Captioning is included on most DVDs and TV programs today. Subtitles are also common.  Subtitles are generally sufficient to allow someone to enjoy a program, though they do not indicate sounds other than speech. Captioning can be turned on using the remote control (for TV) or the menu options (for most DVDs).

Videophones are a newer option for Deaf people to communicate over distances. Because they allow a Deaf person to use sign language to communicate, videophones are generally preferred over TTYs.

A text telephone or TTY is a device that allows a person to send text over a phone line. This allows a deaf person to type to someone else with a similar machine (or use a relay service). TTYs have their own version of “text speak.” It’s important to note that both users of a TTY can’t send information at the same time. Generally, people will type GA for “go ahead” when they are done typing, then wait for a response.

Relay services exist for videophones and TTYs. A relay operator facilitates communication between a hearing person using a standard telephone, and a deaf or hard-of-hearing person using a TTY or videophone.

Service Animals used by deaf people include dogs, which can alert their owner to a fire alarm, ringing telephone, or crying baby.

More information on assistive technology for deaf people