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Home alerting devices for people who are deaf or hard of hearing

The Gallaudet University Technology Access Program has been working on visual access to smart homes under a grant sponsored by the Consumer Technology Association Foundation.

Are you deaf or hard of hearing and miss important things going on at your home, for example: doorbell ringing, door knocks, incoming telephone calls, fire alarms, motion alarms, and water leaks? Are you tired of buying special equipment at specialized stores for the deaf and hard of hearing? Would you rather use the same smart home devices that everyone else has? Or are you hearing and would prefer visual notifications?

Then our work is for you. And, psst, we'll let you into a secret: the answer is yes to all these questions for us, too!

Purple flashing light and white strobe light Red flashing light and red-white bloom light

Our work lets you set up notifications via flashing lights. You can customize the colors and patterns as you like. And best of all: it works with already existing off-the-shelf smart home devices. You don't have to buy special equipment for the deaf and hard of hearing that no one else uses.

Our project currently works with Samsung SmartThings and If-This-Then-That (IFTTT), and we are looking into supporting other smart home hubs in the future.

Here is a list of hardware and functions that we currently support:

  • Smoke alarm
  • Video doorbell
  • Logitech POP smart button for use as a doorbell
  • ZWave smart button for use as a doorbell
  • Wired chime box doorbell
  • Door knock sensor
  • Panic button
  • Water leak detector
  • Motion detector
  • Incoming phone call

Lights that we currently support:

  • Lifx WiFi-enabled A19 light bulbs
  • Philips Hue A19 light bulbs
  • Philips Hue bloom light
  • Philips Hue strip light
  • Strobe light (for fire alarms)

We are starting user trials soon. If you are interested in receiving updates about this project, please sign up by sending email to

The user trial study has been approved by the Gallaudet University Institutional Review Board.

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