Assistive Devices & Equipment
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Contents: To jump to the topic you would like, click on the links below
- Assistive listening devices (ADL)
- Argumentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) devices
- Alerting Devices
- Hearing Aids
- The Hearing Aid Telephone Interconnect System
- Hearing Dog & Equipment
- Instant messaging software
- Real-time text technologies
- Sign Language
- Telecommunication Aids
- Telecommunications relay service technologies
- Video relay service
- World Wide Web and closed captioning
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.
- Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) devices help people with communication disorders to express themselves. These terms often refer to devices that help a person to hear and understand what is being said more clearly or to express thoughts more easily.These devices can range from a simple picture board to a computer program that synthesizes speech from text.
- 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.
SA Hearing: is an online store selling products aimed at people with hearing loss. Selling Assistive Listening Devices and Assistive Living Devices, we aim to enable people with hearing loss to live full, independent lives. Hearing loss should not get in the way. Some of the products that we sell include amplified telephones, TV listeners, and loud and vibrating alarm clocks.
SA Hearing have a branch in Cape Town. You can contact them on: Tel: (021) 797 7948 or Fax: 086 730 7424, email them at: You can also visit them at their offices in Cape Town at: 30 Constantia Road, Wynberg, 7800, or visit their web site to find out more: www.sahearing.co.za
Edit Microsystems: is a leading supplier of educational and corporate technology solutions in Southern Africa. Edit Microsystems aims to find alternative, cutting-edge ways to improve teaching and learning in the education sector and to improve business communication in the corporate sector. Edit Microsystems provides services to educators; education departments; corporate social investors; parents; other government departments and corporate managers. Through on-going support and professional development, Edit Microsystems can help find the right solution for your particular environment.
Edit Microsystems have various branches around South Africa including in Cape Town. You can contact them on: Tel: (021) 433 2520 or email them at: firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also visit them at their offices in Cape Town at: Unit 601,The Point Shopping Centre (Galleria), 76 Regent Road, Sea Point, Cape Town, 8005 or visit their web site to find out more: www.editmicro.co.za
Assistive listening devices (ADL) are devices used to amplify sounds an individual wants to hear, especially in areas with lots of back ground noise. ADLs can be used with hearing aids and cochlear implants to improve the individuals hearing.
Argumentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) devices are used to help individuals with communication disorder to express themselves to others. The devices can carry from picture boards to computer assisted speech.
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.
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.
Individuals with hearing loss require phones with amplifiers that have a higher power of amplification when compared to a regular phone. The Hearing Aid Telephone Interconnect System is a hands free amplification system which allows people to amplify sound when using telephones, cell phones, computer and pay phones by way of the attachment of a portable unit.
Hearing Dogs & Equipment
A Hearing Dog is a Service Animal for persons who are Deaf or Hearing Impaired. 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. Animals whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals. There are various types of Service Animals used in countries around the world, including Guide Horses in the UK and Service Monkeys in USA, but these are currently not trained or used in South Africa. Hearing Dogs and training is available from various organizations in South Africa for persons who are Deaf or Hearing Impaired, while training of various other types of Service Dogs is also available to assist Persons With Disabilities, such as:
- Mobility Impairments: Service Dogs - Pulling a wheelchair or picking up objects.
- Diabetes: Medical Alert Dogs - reminding / detecting when a person needs to take prescribed medications.
- Visual Impairments: Guide Dogs - Guiding people who are Blind.
- Mental Illnesses (Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): calming a person with (PTSD) during an anxiety attack
- Seizure Disorder: Seizure Alert Dogs - Alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure.
- Autism: Autism Support Dogs - Preventing children with autism from running off when distracted.
In several countries, including South Africa, Service Dogs, Guide Dogs, Hearing Dogs, etc. are exempt from regulations against the presence of animals in places such as restaurants, public transportation and aeroplanes. To find out more about the types of Service Dogs mentioned above, click on the links, or click the link below to find out more about Guide Dogs and the Organizations that train and provide them.
A hearing dog is a type of Service dog specifically selected and trained to assist people who are deaf or hard of hearing by alerting their handler to important sounds, such as doorbells, smoke alarms, ringing telephones, or alarm clocks. They may also work outside the home, alerting to such sounds such as sirens, forklifts and a person calling the handler's name.
A service dog is a type of assistance dog specifically trained to help people who have disabilities, such as a hearing impairment.
Instant messaging software
Instant messaging (IM) is a type of online chat which offers real-time text transmission over the Internet. It is sometimes used by deaf people to communicate online. A LAN messenger operates in a similar way over a local area network. Short messages are typically transmitted between two parties, when each user chooses to complete a thought and select "send". Some IM applications can use push technology to provide real-time text, which transmits messages character by character, as they are composed. More advanced instant messaging can add file transfer, clickable hyperlinks, Voice over IP, or video chat.
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.
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.
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.
There are several new telecommunications relay service technologies including IP Relay and captioned telephone technologies. A deaf or hard of hearing person can communicate over the phone with a hearing person via a human translator. Phone captioning is a service in which a hearing person's speech is captioned by a third party, enabling a deaf or hard of hearing person to conduct a conversation with a hearing person over the phone. Wireless, Internet and mobile phone/SMS text messaging are beginning to take over the role of the TDD.
Video relay service and video remote interpreting (VRI) services also use a third-party telecommunication service to allow a deaf or hard-of-hearing person to communicate quickly and conveniently with a hearing person, through a sign language interpreter.
World Wide Web and closed captioning
The advent of the Internet's World Wide Web and closed captioning has given the deaf and hard of hearing unprecedented access to information. Electronic mail and online chat have reduced the need for deaf and hard-of-hearing people to use a third-party Telecommunications Relay Service to communicate with the hearing and other deaf people.