Visual doorbell ringer: How can I alert a hearing impaired client that I am at the door?

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How can I alert a hearing impaired client that I am at the door?

Question

I wanted to reach out to you in regards to a client who is hearing impaired. He is having difficulty with knowing when his care workers arrive at his home. Is there anything that you are aware of or have developed that could help clients who have hearing impairment? We have tried texting him without success and a lock box is not an option.

Our answer

There are many ways for someone with hearing impairments to be alerted of a visitor at the door. The success of any of these products is dependent on the preference and habits of the user and the layout of the home.

For people living in apartment buildings, guests often need to be ‘buzzed in’. There are a few options that alert the person that a guest at the door is requesting to be buzzed in. These options are dependent on the system used in the building. Most systems route through a phone number, and for newer systems, that can be a cellphone number. Whether it’s a cellphone or a landline, there are products that translate a ringer into a flashing light or a vibration. We have listed a few options below:

  • KRN-K-RA-005 Amplified Ringer with Strobe by Krown (available from amazon.ca) is a landline telephone accessory that features a louder ring and a bright flashing strobe light. The ringer volume can go up to 120 decibels. This product costs about $90 (Cdn).
  • Serene Innovations RF-200 Cell Phone Signaler (available at diglo.com) is a signaler for cellphones and landlines. Cellphones are set down on the device and set to vibrate, when the phone vibrates the device flashes bright LED lights to alert the individual. For landlines, a cable can be plugged directly into the device. For instances where the individual may be asleep, a Bed Shaker attachment can be added. The attachment adds a vibration intended to wake the individual up to notify them of the call. The signaler and the shaker are both available from Harris Communications for about $60 (U.S.) plus a shipping fee.

Then for smaller units without a doorbell, guests would typically just knock at the door. The Door Knocker 125 by Krown hangs over the door, and ‘listens’ for a knock. When it ‘hears’ a knock it signals using a powerful LED light. The device is battery powered making it highly portable. It’s also available from diglo.com, and costs between $30 and $35 (U.S.) plus a shipping fee.

Generally speaking, the doorbell products can be classified as having a mix of three features: amplified doorbells, portable doorbells, and alternate signals – such as light or vibration. We have listed a few doorbell products to explore below:

  • Series 3 Wireless Doorbell with Portable Speaker by Honeywell (available from Home Depot) is a portable doorbell with a range of up to 76 metres. For some people with mild hearing impairments keeping the doorbell receiver close improves the chance of hearing the ring. This product costs about $31 (Cdn).
  • Doorbell Chime/Flashing Strobe by Trine (available at chs.ca) is a doorbell with both a chime and a flashing strobe light. This product costs about $90 (Cdn).
  • Easy Chime Wireless Doorbell by 1byone (at amazon.com) is a doorbell system made up of one button, and two receiving units. The receiving units can be placed within 150 metres of the button and feature customizable LED lights and a loud chime that can be increased up to 110 decibels. This product costs between $12 to $16 (U.S.) plus a shipping fee.

For more custom options Silent Call and Sonic Alert both have a wide range of products to address various living environments. Typically one device is a sensor that takes in the information - such as a doorbell being rung - and sends that information to a signal receiver. The signal receiver then translates that to an alert for the individual - such as a lamp flashing. For example, the Wireless Loud Doorbell Signaler DB100 by Sonic Alert is a device with two components. A doorbell sensor can either be attached to the outside of the door and rung like a doorbell, wired to the existing doorbell, or connected to the chime box. The signaler is plugged into the wall and a lamp is connected to the signaler. When the sensor is activated the signaler will flash the lamp on an off to alert the individual. Based on the environment, the system can be customized. For example, if the individual spends time between two or more rooms a strobe light receiver – The Sonic Blink Wireless Receiver BL300 - can be added on to the system for other rooms in the house. Sonic Alert products including the DB100 and the BL300 are available from Hearmore.com,. Silent Call products are available from Diglo.com.

If the doorbell cannot be changed, such as in rental situations consider a wireless doorbell with a long-range – such as the Series 3 Wireless Doorbell or the Easy Chime Doorbell mentioned above. The doorbell button can be kept with the visitor and the receiver can be installed in the home – usually just by plugging it into the wall. Then the visitor uses the button to inform the individual that they are at the door, and the individual is notified by a strobe light or vibration.

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