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American Sign Language: "Technology and the Deaf"



People with Hearing Loss and Technology


With over seventy million Deaf people in the world, technology has had a large impact on the way they live their lives. There have been numerous advances in technology to help Deaf people to communicate, interact with the world around them and even help them to hear! Even though many Deaf people believe up-to-date technology is not essential to the quality of their lives, others find it critical to their connection with the rest of the world.  

An example of technology Deaf people have used to help them communicate is the Video Relay Service (VRS).   This is a video interpreting telecommunication service. There is an interpreter at a remote location who facilitates communication between the Deaf person and the hearing person they are contacting.  For example, if a Deaf person wants to order a pizza, he/she can use VRS to help them with their services.  The invention of the iPhone and advances in computer technology have overshadowed VRS in some ways because many Deaf people are now able to use FaceTime and Skype, for example, to communicate with others.  Skype and FaceTime help Deaf people to be able to sign face to face. Also the use of text messages and instant messaging, as well as other apps, are now becoming mainstream in both the Deaf and hearing worlds, so most people do not need to hear in order to communicate by telephone.

There is also a lot of technology available to keep Deaf people safe in their homes and help them to enjoy the modern conveniences that hearing people have access to.  For instance, fire alarms as well as doorbells have been improved to alert people with hearing loss when a fire occurs or when there is someone at the door. Instead of alarming hearing people with noise when a fire occurs, fire alarms can be placed in Deaf people's homes and its lights will flash when an accidental fire happens.  The same situation as the fire alarm can happen with the doorbell as well. New bed alarms come with a vibrating sensor that can be placed under a bed and wake a Deaf person up when it is time.

Deaf people have experienced changes in the way they communicate and interact in everyday life because of the innovations in technology (deHahn 2014). Their culture is affected by the rising popularity of cochlear implants (Parkins 2013).   Hearing aids and cochlear implants have come a long way because of its size and convenience.  Hearing aids and CIs used to be too big to handle, and now there is a possibility of them being internal.  For instance, technology can support people with hearing loss at restaurants because instead of not being able to hear a waiter/waitress, an electronic device can be used for ordering. Deaf Institutions have also improved their use of technologies in order to provide the best education possible (Seaver 2014).  For example, FM systems and surround sounds can be used by the instructor to support people with hearing loss.  If a student chooses not to attend Gallaudet, NTID, or other Deaf-supportive schools, technology should be vital to their learning environment because hearing colleges do not focus on the education of Deaf people, but for hearing people. Technology will impact how they learn in schools, such as iPads and computers that come with an outline of the lesson, etc. (Seaver 2014).

          Have hearing people ever wondered if Deaf people watch television (TV)? Since hearing people can understand what's happening on television, they cannot understand how Deaf people can watch it.  Many people who do not have hearing loss have likely never heard of closed-captioning or subtitles, which are words on the screen that caption what the characters, etc. on TV are saying.  However, most movie theaters do not show closed captioning on the screens, making it difficult for a Deaf person to watch the premiere of a new movie (Reynolds 2008).  Some movie theaters have resolved the issue by providing people with hearing loss a small screen with subtitles on it and a wire that can be held by the cup holder so they can watch it with no issues (Reynolds 2008).  

          Even though there is a lot of up-to-date technology that is suitable to aid people with disabilities, there are still many issues that still appear often that need to be resolved such as following directions at airports, the honking of a horn of someone behind you, and many other things. Many engineers, architects, and scientists are working hard to improvise technology so that they can aide many Deaf people.

          Even though some technology is incapable to meet some of the needs of many Deaf people, it has a major impact on their lifestyle.  Deaf people can help scientists and engineers to come up with new ideas of technology that will affect generations to come.  However, technology failing to meet some needs can motivate many of those people to work hard and fix them.  I believe that in the future, technology will be able to help many Deaf people learn, connect, educate, and even inspire.




DeHahn, P. (2014, May 16). How Technology Could Threaten Deaf Identity. Retrieved November 13, 2015, from

Parkins, D. (2013, July 20). Listen up. Retrieved November 13, 2015, from

Kalan, J. (2013, July 31). Helping the Deaf to 'see' and 'feel' sound. Retrieved November 13, 2015, from

Seaver, L. (2014, August 3). New Technologies for Students Who are Deaf/Hard of Hearing:. Retrieved November 16, 2015, from

Reynolds, J. (2008, November 6). Deaf and the movies. Retrieved November 16, 2015, from


Author: Griffin Martin 
Date: November 16, 2015



Also see:
Technology and the Deaf (more info)

Technology and the Deaf (02)

Technology and Deaf Communication
Technology and the Deaf: Impacts on Culture

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