Contributed by Debbie Clason, staff writer, Healthy Hearing
If you’re looking for a unique Valentine’s Day gift to give someone with hearing loss, we’ve rounded up a few of our favorites. Hey — Santa has helpers, why can’t Cupid?
- Captioned telephone. Those who have trouble hearing conversations on the telephone will appreciate this product. The large screen displays what the caller is saying as text so the listener doesn’t have to strain so hard to hear. Some states even offer CapTel telephones free or at a reduced rate for those who qualify.
- Neck loop. Those who wear hearing aids with a telecoil may enjoy the gift of a neck loop. This technology is worn around the neck and plugged into other compatible devices, such as computer speakers, televisions and radios, to enhance sound while significantly reducing background noise. Plan to spend anywhere from $35-$65.
- Visual alert systems use strobe lights and vibrators instead of sound to help those who are deaf or hard of hearing know when someone is ringing the doorbell, calling on the telephone, or the smoke alarm is sounding. Prices range from $30 to $250.
- Digital doorbell. If that special someone loves their smart phone, consider giving them a gift of a digital doorbell. These devices send alerts from the door to the smart phone, some even have a video feature you can install so you can see who’s there before you answer the door. The price runs around $200.
- Build-A-Bear hearing aid. What self-respecting stuffed animal goes out without his hearing aid? Not one belonging to your favorite child who is deaf or hard of hearing when you buy them this plush accessory. The cost is just $2.
- American Girl Doll hearing aid. Now your child’s favorite 18” American Girl doll can have a hearing aid, too. Dolls can be ordered with one or two hearing aids, or sent to the Doll Hospital where they will receive a permanent piercing behind the ear to attach the removable accessory. The cost is just $14.
- American Sign Language flash cards. Help them practice signing – while you learn, too – with Sign2Me ASL Flash Cards: ABCs and 123s. The front of each card displays an illustrated word with the associated sign on the reverse.
- A Place for Grace by Jean Davies Okimoto
Sweet Grace may be too little to become a seeing-eye dog, but she’s just right for becoming an official hearing dog. The story, suitable for ages 4 and up, not only illustrates some of the hurdles facing those with hearing loss as well as the rewards of hard work and persistence.
- The Handmade Alphabet (Picture Puffins) by Laura Rankin
A picture book which beautifully illustrates the handshape for each letter of the American Sign Language alphabet using hands of different ages, sexes and colors. Illustrations include the handshape accompanied by an object whose name begins with that letter. Ages 2 and up.
- El Deafo by Cece Bell
Author/illustrator Cece Bell chronicles her hearing loss at a young age and her experiences with the Phonic Ear, a powerful, yet awkward hearing aid that presented more than its share of difficulties as she tried to fit in and find true friends. A 2015 Newberry Award winner. Ages 8 to 12.
- CharmsOnThings. Say “I Love You” with a gold sign language hand charm necklace. The small handmade gold-colored pewter charm is available with adjustable chain length and style. $14.95
- “No Limits” Deaf Awareness Bracelet. This beautiful bracelet is handmade with 20 gauge non-tarnish gold and 16 gauge silver twisted fancy rings and features a pendant with “No limits” text and “I love you” ASL hand sign. Each pendant is individually stamped on a ¾” stainless steel disk with a ½” brass disk. 7 ½” in length. $40. Note: $5 from the sale of each bracelet will be donated to the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA).
Hearing device accessories
Add a little fun to your loved ones’ hearing devices with accessories customized to their unique personalities.
- Clips and Tube riders: ADCO Hearing Products offers a variety of colorful hearing aid accessories designed specifically for a child’s hearing aids. Hearing aid clips, for both binaural and monaural hearing aids, feature animals, dinosaurs and sea critters ranging in price from $9.95 to $13.95. Tube riders, $2.95, slip over the earpiece of BTE hearing aid or cochlear implant.
- Charms and tube twists: Haleigh Scott, a young girl who has been profoundly hard of hearing since birth, loves to make charms and other accessories for hearing aids. Visit her Etsy shop to purchase handmade tube twists and hearing aid charms ranging in price from $5.00 to $16.00.
- Fairy Wings (WhimsicalPixies): Purchase a pair of fairy wings or butterfly wings to add a little magical whimsy to hearing aids. Each wing is hand cut, painted and customized with your choice of color, design and glitter. Choose from butterfly wings, imp ears, superhero batwings, magical fairies or shimmering dragon wings starting at $17.61.
- Theater. Many live theater performances offer sign language interpretation or assistive listening devices. If your Valentine is a theater aficionado, check local venues to see which theater companies offer services for the deaf and hard of hearing.
- Movie tickets. Check your local movie theaters first to see which of them offer assistive listening devices, rear-window captioning or closed captioning. Those with a smart phone can also download an app which provides subtitles and/or captioning, such as Subtitles Viewer for the iPhone.
- Sony Entertainment Access Glasses provide movie captions right on the lenses. The lightweight glasses allow those who are deaf or hard of hearing to understand the dialog without seeing it displayed on the screen as subtitles.
Need hearing care?
Of course, one of the best gifts you can give anyone is the gift of better hearing. If you have a friend or loved one who isn’t hearing well, encourage them to find a hearing healthcare professional and make an appointment to have their hearing evaluated. The Healthy Hearing clinic directory is a good place to start.