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An Assistive Device is any device that helps persons with disabilities or Impairments to do something that they might not otherwise be able to do well, or at all, thus giving that person more independents. Assistive Devices or Assistive Technology can help persons who are Deaf or have Hearing Impairments to communicate if they have a speech, or language disorder are equipment like Hearing aids, Assistive listening devices (ADL), Argumentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) devices & Alerting Devices. With the development of digital and wireless technologies, more and more devices are becoming available to help people with hearing, voice, speech, and language disorders communicate more meaningfully and participate more fully in their daily lives. Assistive devices can help a person with day-to-day activities like Alerting devices on a door bell, so that a door bell blinks a light instead of a noise to indicate someone is at the door. Health professionals use a variety of names to describe assistive devices:

  • Assistive Listening Devices (ALDs) help amplify the sounds you want to hear, especially where there’s a lot of background noise. ALDs can be used with a hearing aid or cochlear implant to help a wearer hear certain sounds better.
  • Alerting Devices connect to a doorbell, telephone, or alarm that emits a loud sound or blinking light to let someone with hearing loss know that an event is taking place.

As there are a wide variety of different types of Hearing Impairments, there are also a variety of different Assistive Devices, options and solutions available in South Africa from Organizations & Companies such as  SA Hearing and Edit Microsystems. Many of these companies can also advise you on what equipment would best suit your needs and can also teach persons and offer support to them on how to best use the equipment that they supply. To view more information about these Assistive Devices and the Organizations & Companies that provide them, read the article below or view the menu on the left.

Assistive Listening Devices

Assistive Listening Devices are devices used to amplify sounds an individual wants to hear, especially in areas with lots of back ground noise. ALDs can be used with hearing aids and cochlear implants to improve the individuals hearing.

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Alerting Devices

Alerting Devices are assistive device that connect with door bells, telephones, and other alarming device. These devices add a specific alarm based on one's disability. For instance, a deaf individual can have a door bell that blinks a light instead of a noise to indicate someone is at the door.

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Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) Devices

Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) includes all forms of communication (other than oral speech) that are used to express thoughts, needs, wants, and ideas. We all use AAC when we make facial expressions or gestures, use symbols or pictures, or write. ,People with severe speech or language problems rely on AAC to supplement existing speech or replace speech that is not functional. Special augmentative aids, such as picture and symbol communication boards and electronic devices, are available to help people express themselves. This may increase social interaction, school performance, and feelings of self-worth.

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Hearing Aids

Hearing aids are devices used by partially deaf individual to regain a portion of hearing by amplifying sound. They work to improve the hearing and speech comprehension of those with hearing loss. It works by magnifying the sound vibrations in the ear so that one can understand what is being said around them. The use of this technological device may or may not have an effect on one's sociability. Some people feel as if they cannot live without one because they say it is the only thing that keeps them engaged with the public. Others dislike hearing aids very much because they feel wearing them is embarrassing or weird. Due to their low-esteem, they avoid hearing aid usage altogether and would rather remain quiet and to themselves in a social environment.

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Hearing Dogs & Equipment

A Hearing Dog or Alert Dog is an Assistance Animal which assists persons who are Deaf or those who have Hearing Impairments in various ways. Assistance or Service animals are defined as animals that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for persons with disabilities, they are working animals and not pets, so the work or task that the animal has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person's disability. There are various types of Service Animals used in countries around the world, but currently only dogs trained or used in South Africa. These Assistance Dogs can be trained to assist persons with various impairments, including Mobility, Visual, Hearing and various Intellectual Impairments.

Training of these various types of Assistance Dogs is provided by Accredited training companies and organisations such as The Smart Dogs Training Centre, Paws4life Training Academy and The S.A. Dog Training College. Through this training that they receive from these companies and organisations, they will learn how to provide assistance to their handler and the handler will be required to train with their dog to learn how to communicate with their Assistance Dog.

Hearing Dogs are Assistance Dogs which have been specifically trained to assist persons who are deaf or hard of hearing by alerting their handler to important sounds, such as doorbells, smoke alarms, ringing telephones, or alarm clocks. Hearing Dogs can replace the need for other Alerting Devices used in the home but may also work outside the home, alerting their handler to sounds such as sirens, forklifts and a person calling the handler's name.

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Real-time Text Technologies

Real-time text technologies, involving streaming text that is continuously transmitted as it is typed or otherwise composed. This allows conversational use of text. Software programs are now available that automatically generate a closed-captioning of conversations. Examples include discussions in conference rooms, teleconference calls, classroom lectures, and/or religious services.

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Sign Language & Interpreters

Sign language is a language which chiefly uses manual communication to convey meaning, as opposed to acoustically conveyed sound patterns. This can involve simultaneously combining hand shapes, orientation and movement of the hands, arms or body, and facial expressions to express a speaker's thoughts. Sign languages share many similarities with spoken languages, which depend primarily on sound, which is why linguists consider both to be natural languages. There are however some significant differences between signed and spoken languages, such as how they use space grammatically, sign languages show the same linguistic properties and use the same language faculty as do spoken languages. They should not be confused with body language, which is a kind of non-linguistic communication.

Wherever communities of deaf people exist, sign languages have developed, and are at the cores of local deaf cultures. Although signing is used primarily by the deaf, it is also used by other people who can hear, but cannot physically speak.

It is not clear how many sign languages there are. Aside from the pidgin International Sign, each country generally has its own, native sign language, and some have more than one (although there are also substantial similarities among all sign languages). The 2013 edition of Ethnologue lists 137 sign languages. Some sign languages have obtained some form of legal recognition, like in South Africa, while others have no status at all.

In linguistic terms, sign languages are as rich and complex as any spoken language, despite the common misconception that they are not "real languages". Professional linguists have studied many sign languages and found that they exhibit the fundamental properties that exist in all languages. Today, linguists study sign languages as true languages, part of the field of linguistics.

A common misconception is that sign languages are somehow dependent on spoken languages: that they are spoken language expressed in signs, or that they were invented by hearing people. Sign languages, like all natural languages, are developed by the people who use them, in this case, deaf people, who may have little or no knowledge of any spoken language.

As a sign language develops, it sometimes borrows elements from spoken languages, just as all languages borrow from other languages that they are in contact with.

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Telecommunication Aids

Persons who are Deaf or have Hearing Impairments can communicate by telephone using certain types of Telephones and Assistive Devices known as Telecommunication Aids. There are a wide variety of different types of this equipment available, including Text Telephones; Telephone Typewriters (TTY); Videophones and Amplified Telephones. Alerting Devices are also available to Alert persons who are Deaf or have Hearing Impairments, so that they are aware when their telephone is ringing. Software Apps are also available to provide assistance on mobile phones. You will need to choose a Telecommunication Aid to suite your needs & preferences, so that you can remain as independent as possible. Thankfully, there are various Organizations & Companies such as Edit Microsystems, which offer a wide variety of these Telecommunication Aids and can also advise you on which Telecommunication Aids would best suit your needs and how to use the equipment that they supply. To find out more about these Telecommunication Aids that can assist you, click the "Telecommunication Aids" button on the left or the link below.

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