For most people, moving out of the house and gaining independence is a pretty big thing. For those who are deaf/hard of hearing (D/HH) it can certainly feel overwhelming! Let me tell you, from an adult that has lived independently from mom and dad for the last 7 years, it is actually not that difficult. All it takes is some planning, a little bit of money (worth the investment in gaining independence!), and creativity. This is the first out of three blog posts in the Living Life Independently series – focusing on home solutions.
We live in an age where there’s a solution for just about anything, thanks to technology. Let’s look at it from a ‘daily routine’ perspective.
Waking up in the Morning
Ok. I will be the first to admit that I am NOT a morning person. Life still goes on, whether we like it or not. Waking up is a critical part of actually getting a groove on the day, and it’s also step 1 in affirming your independence. Growing up, I used the Sonic Boom Smart Shaker (about $35 on Amazon Prime!) and it saved my mom from having to wake me up – starting at the age of 8. I’m a light sleeper, so this was perfect for me – any stronger vibration would have sent me flying off the handle! Now, by now most of you might need some extra oomph to get up from those all-nighters studying. Chances are, most of you also have a smartphone of some kind. Check out the iLuv SmartShakers. This is absolutely fantastic for deep sleepers, and the battery only needs to be charged once a month or so (or less). The iLuv Smartshakers are compatible for use with iPhones, iPads, and Samsung Devices. It’s about $20 USD, but well worth the investment.
There are so many other options for waking up if you really don’t like being woken up by a bedshaker. There’s connecting your lamp to an alarm clock, or even having a smartphone resting on a lightON system. The lightON flashes whenever your phone vibrates, emitting bright flashing lights. Click the link above to check out their amazing video on how lightON works!
The kitchen is where I spend 25% of my days at home. There are many options you can utilize in this glorious area where you can create meals that satisfy your palate, or eat takeout. For those that cook, the worst offender for any D/HH person is having a pot at full boil without knowing it. There’s no ‘real’ solution to that, I think (I could be wrong) – except to keep your eye on the water! Depending on your oven, stove and microwave manufacturer, some have features where you can increase the volume of alerts. Or, if you’re like me, living with ancient appliances, you can use independent kitchen timers that vibrate, flash or beep extra loud. Me = I use my phone as my timer as it’s practically attached to my hand.
If you’re feeling less than inclined to get ‘cookin’ in the kitchen, check out these D/HH chefs who make it possible:
- Kurt Ramborger (special appearance on Food Network’s Chopped)
- David Uzzell – link includes tips on how to communicate in the kitchen
- Darren Weiss
Telephone – the landline type (Disclaimer: I don’t have one! See the next section if you want to skip this one)
Having a telephone is essential in many ways – even though I will admit that as a long time CI user, I do have a hard time using the phone with voices that I’m not familiar with! Nonetheless, the phone gives us access to calling for emergency services, and help us stay ‘connected’ to those important in our lives. Both Telus and Bell do standard relay services. You can even find a video how it works here (sorry for the old people in the video – but it does a good job explaining the process!).
Alternatively, you could look at getting an amplified telephone too. The Western Institute for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing have a number of them that you can try out for fit.
Smart Phones (now we’re talking! My guess most of us have these instead).
I use my smartphone for everything. From WhatsApp chats (cheaper than paying for a text messaging plan… AND you can even do FaceTime on it if you’re an android user like me) to emails, to phone calls. Tip: when you’re negotiating a contract, ask for FREE voicemail to text messages. Honestly, you’re saving $7/month just by doing that… and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve missed phone calls from unknown numbers just to wait for their message to come through voicemail to text. So much easier, and way less opportunity for miscommunication to occur.
Smartphones also have many apps that can help with your mode of communication, from ASL (Glide!) to oral communication. AvaScribe is a relatively new speech to text transcription service available in Canada, but check out this article on some other popular speech to text transcription apps readily available. I could go into detail how each app works – that would be a novel! Bottom line, if you can communicate with your cell carrier provider effectively they may be able to get you the best deal. Rumor has it that Microsoft is still working on perfecting their transcription technology, so… stay tuned on this amazing technological advancement, which wasn’t even available 10 short years ago!
My favorite part about having my own place, my own space is… having visitors over! I am the type that likes to host and entertain. If you’re not, that’s still ok! This section also applies to the FedEx guy, the kid down the street who wants to sell you cookies, and even the friendly neighbor.
There are some who have one of those door announcers, also available through WIDHH. I personally don’t need it, as I wouldn’t even answer the door past 10pm. If someone needs to come in, they can text me. There are systems like the alert-master (but $$$) that can do all of that for you, but typically if I know that someone is going to be coming by, they’ll usually give me a heads up.
There is SO much I could tell you about living independently at home, but ultimately you have to find a system that works for you. Everyone has different needs and preferences! Use this article as a starting point to explore the various technology available.