Technology is now a big part of our lives, for example our smartphones, emails, video conferencing. Technology has changed considerably in the last 40-50 years. But what have these changes meant for deaf people?
During the early 20th century, deaf people had to create their own aids to enable them to answer the door, wake up in the morning, or let them know when their baby cried.
Eventually, technology aids were developed, such as the flashing light doorbell (created by James Mountcastle), pagers, flashing alarm clocks, although they were not perfect!
During the 1980s more equipment was invented, such as TTY, Vistel and fax, which became a popular way for deaf people to communicate.
The most popular technology today is the smartphone, that allows deaf people to keep in contact with others utilising popular mobile apps such as WhatsApp and social media platforms.
Smartphones have become a big boost for deaf communities, who are now able to communicate faster and more efficiently compared to older generations.
Smartphones can also let deaf people know there is someone at the front door and use video relay systems to communicate with hearing people. This is much faster and easier than the old systems like Typetalk (now BT Relay/NGT) which meant you had to use Textphones to communicate.
These changes in technology meant that during the pandemic that started in March 2020, deaf people were able to maintain a sense of belonging, to remain in touch with family/friends, organising events such as quiz nights, via Zoom, using their smartphone or laptop.
They rely on technology even more; many find it a lifesaver.
There is also lots of new software, such as an app that enables hard of hearing people to read captions on their smartphones instead of trying to hear or lipread while talking with other people or in a meeting.
Also, the Apple company has devised new software as part of iOS 14 which brings together a lot of these accessible and technical aids into a single phone device.
Some questions to think about:
Does this mean the deaf community has become totally reliant on technology?
Will the future of deaf heritage be defined by technology?
What about deaf people that do not like technology or find it difficult?
What will technology be like in the future? Will it make deaf lives better?
Are all technological developments good for the deaf community?
If you have your own thoughts about some of these questions then get in contact. Email – email@example.com