Assistive Technology Guide for Students and Families – Part I
For parents of children living with a hearing loss, knowing when (and how) to introduce assistive technology can be challenging. Often, we recommend that an alarm clock is the ideal starting point, as it encourages independence while helping the child become comfortable with signaling devices that utilize vibration, amplification and/or flashing lights.
When we look at students specifically and the needs that children living with hearing loss face, their day starts just like anyone else and the need to wake up on time. Building independence and confidence will set them up for success in the long run.
There are three types of alarm devices that can be utilized:
- A Bluetooth, app-enabled device that uses vibration to wake up the user
- A traditional alarm clock that has the added features of amplification, vibration (bed shaker) and sometimes flashing lights,
- A home notification system that opens a wide array of notification options, including a standard alarm.
In this guide we will focus on the first two as they are often the best place to start for new users in the world of assistive technology and far less overwhelming for parents. Later in this series we will discuss the introduction of notification systems and additional items that can be very helpful for older students and children going off to college.
Bluetooth, App-Enabled Bed Shakers
For anyone that is looking for a very simple, extremely portable option to waking up on time, this is the way to go.
- Pros: Versatile, portable, easy to setup
- Cons: Smartphone required, no visual display, must be recharged
Just like any product category, there are some brands that perform better than others. When you are buying a Bluetooth bed shaker, you’ll want to keep in mind battery life, ease of use, and app compatibility (not all are compatible with both iOS and Android). Our product recommendation in this category is the Bellman & Symfon Vibio. This incredible little device is powerful enough to wake you even when placed under your mattress, and boasts an incredibly easy-to-use app that’s perfect for users of any age or skill level.
Traditional Alarm Clock
If you are looking for an option that is true to a traditional alarm clock, there are many options available that have the added features of amplification, vibration and even flashing lights. In fact, there are so many options that you can even find one in the shape of a heart, one with speakers to stream music from your smart phone, or one that illuminates the silhouette of the moon.
- Pros: Familiar interface, extremely versatile design selection, and reliability of not having to recharge the device
- Cons: Not portable, no options for additional notification (i.e. inbound calls)
Navigating all of the options in this category can be overwhelming, and the selection increases on a regular basis. However, we have narrowed down the two most popular alarm clocks based on age-range of the user (and input from the kids themselves!).
- Most popular for younger children: Sonic Bomb SBB500ss. This alarm clock is available in five popular colors, each offering incredible amplification, ease-of-use, and a powerful bed shaker.
- Most popular for older children and teens: iLuv TimeShaker 6Q Wow. This alarm clock is a popular choice due to the amazing features – including multiple alarm options, wireless charging pad, Bluetooth speakers and of course an incredibly powerful bed shaker.
Learning how to navigate through all of the assistive technology options can be incredibly overwhelming, but when you break it down into specific objectives it can be much easier to find what you are looking for. The team here at ADCO Hearing Products is dedicated to helping those in the hearing loss community understand the options available to them. Find answers and solutions by calling us at 800-726-0851 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for help.
Next in this series: Personal Amplifiers, FM Systems, and Utilizing Assistive Technology in the Classroom
About the author: Abby Armijo is the President and Owner of ADCO Hearing Products. She has been actively involved in the education and advocacy of assistive technology for parents and has worked closely with many organizations to ensure families receive the support and information they need to make informed decisions for their children.