Becca Hume: Are products and services for Deaf people outdated?

Posted on December 18, 2014

Before I begin, I would like to tell you my background, my story.

When I was 16 years old I began working part time in a well-known UK retail store. I worked in the foods department, so it was my role to make sure the shelves were packed and looked full.

One day I was instructed by my manager to ask a member of staff to help me with a frozen order. When I went over to this member of staff I asked him to help.

His back was towards me and he didn’t reply. I wondered if he was ignoring me. I felt a little embarrassed, and so I shyly asked him again.

Again no response, so I tapped his elbow hoping he would respond this time. When he quickly turned around he signed to me that he was deaf. I didn’t know how to sign, I had never met someone who was deaf before. What was I going to do?

My colleague was very friendly but we could only communicate at a basic level. So, I decided to take sign language classes as soon as I could.

I am still learning BSL, currently studying BSL level 4 in Northern Ireland.

While learning BSL level 2, I was encouraged by my teacher to engage with the deaf community, to take part in activities and begin to use BSL daily. By doing so I became more aware of the deaf community and loved making new friends.

While at a deaf club I asked many people about products and services for Deaf/ hard of hearing.

Being a product designer in Northern Ireland, I look at old, good products and work out new ways of developing these to create even better products.

Many products for Deaf/ hard of hearing appear to be out-dated when compared to other products for sale.

For example look at these products below:

Screen Shot 2014-12-15 at 09.58.28

On the left we have the alarm system for Deaf/ hard of hearing. On the right we have a baby monitor. Both products are for sale now, and are being used by many people.

It is interesting to see how the baby monitor has inviting LED lights, it is wireless and it is digital. Compared to the alarm system for deaf it is a lot more modern and advanced.

This is just one example, there are many more.

What do you think? Tell us in the comments below!

At the moment I have been working on an idea and would love your help!

I am interested to find out how you would, if needed, contact the Emergency Services 999- for Police, Ambulance, Fire or Coastguard.

Do you feel that you have proper access to contacting 999?

I have created a very short online survey, just 11 questions which takes roughly 1min 40secs to complete! Not long at all….Could you help me? Please click on the link in the speech bubble to have your say.

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