Sound Alerts and the Deaf

deaf couple In May of this year, a deaf husband and wife left their Toyota RAV 4 running in the garage of their home. Exhaust fumes entered the home resulting in the death of Wayne and Joan Flammer. This tragic loss once again led me to consider the subtle ways many hearing people take sound cues for granted in every day life.

Having just moved into a new apartment community, our first moving day meal was a frozen pizza. (I know….I know….but it was THIN crust!) The oven was apparently new and the smoke detectors sang out as soon as the oven door was opened. I’m not known for my culinary skills, so setting off the smoke alarms is not new for me. But these were especially ear piercing causing my husband to run and grab the ladder – – yanking the detectors off the ceiling. Had we been deaf, would we have noticed anything?  We would have seen our dogs running to the bedroom to take cover, but would we have known why?  The following day, I had to ask the maintenance guy to come by and fix a couple of things. I asked him about an unusual wall outlet, curious about its purpose. “This is a siren which will go off if there is a fire anywhere in this community. If you hear this go off, get outside immediately.”  Well I’m glad I asked!! Is it loud enough for a deaf person to hear it? I need to remember to ask them what they do if they know a deaf person is living in their community. How would they alert them?

A few days later, I was having lunch with two deaf friends and this topic came up. I started thinking about the many ways we hearing people rely on sound to gather information.  If your hearing doesn’t give you the message, some of these can be determined by “touch.”

For instance:

I hear that the washing machine is finished and I can put the clothes in the dryer.

Now I can hear that the dryer is finished and I can remove the clothes before they wrinkle.

I hear the dishwasher has stopped.

I move over while walking my dog because I hear a car approaching behind me.

Toast has popped up

Microwave beeps finished

Oven finished preheating

Ice maker just made a fresh batch

Toilet is running

Bathtub is finished draining

Bathroom fan is running

Smoke alarm needs battery

A car alarm is going off. Could it be mine?

And finally……Is the car engine still running?

Food for thought. It could be we still have some progress to make in the “equal access” arena.

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About Evelyn

Evelyn Hunter is a SODA with years of experiential study in Deaf Culture. She attended Gallaudet University to immerse herself in this unique deaf world while working for the University and studying sign language to hone her skills. Evelyn has served in training, relationship sales, and marketing -- always seeking to expand awareness of Deaf Culture and the unique challenges the deaf face on a daily basis. The Sign Language Company has recently established a presence on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and a website with a blog, as Evelyn coordinates the marketing and outreach efforts for the agency. Her goal is to attract new clients seeking exceptional service, while maintaining optimal relationships with clients who have selected The Sign Language Company for over 20 years.

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