Letters to the Editor of the Deaf Resource Library

by Karen Nakamura


I get a lot of letters, some of them with quite useful information. I've decided to put them here, with no real organizational strategy (yet), so other people can enjoy them. Last updated 98/09/3.

Subject: Fire Safety for Deaf and Hard of Hearing People

Date: Tue, 16 Jul 1996 11:46:06 -0400
From: Donald Sievers (

We noted your information with interest. Could we share the following information with you ? Today,I noted Les Wilson's letter to you dated 21 April 1996 entitled "Best Prices for the Deaf". At the time, he had never head of us. After posting the attached on "Beyond-Hearing" and "Deaf-L" a few days ago, the response has been most gratifying. Les responded with very good questions, comments and a request for printed, information which is being sent to him today. Not only do we believe we can serve the deaf community with the best pricing, we also provide the interconnecting, early warning detector, so that the sleeping deaf occupant does not have to wait until the smoke reaches his/her bedroom to activate a smoke detector there. We promote the idea or warning the occupant BEFORE the smoke reaches the bedroom, with the intent of preventing death by smoke inhalation. The use of a 177 candela strobe light (within the bedroom smoke detector) and interconnected with a COMPATIBLE hallway ten dollar smoke detector seems most prudent to the people we talk with -- deaf and hearing; consumer and fire protection experts. If you would like additional information, we would be glad to send it to you. In any event, and also for your resource library, we are attaching information on federal regulations REQUIRING the landlord in TWENTY different types of housing, not just housing projects, to provide visual fire alarms in bedrooms occupied by deaf tenants AND requiring the landlord to INTERCONNECT that protection to the hallway smoke detector by hardwiring it. We helped write the Federal Regulation a few years ago to require this life safety protection for deaf and hard of hearing families.

"As a member of SHHH and fire safety consultant to the NAD, I often receive questions about Federal and state regulations for visual fire alarms. I believe the condensed information below would be of interest to many readers of Beyond Hearing.

1. Federal requirements apply to twenty rental housing programs in which the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has an interest, not just public housing. They apply even though these programs, such as Section 8 Rental Assistance and many others, may be administered by state or local governments. 24 CFR (Code of Federal Regulations), Parts 207 et al, specifically require landlords to provide visual fire alarms for deaf and hard of hearing tenants.

These visual alarms are to be installed in the bedroom(s) occupied by the hearing impaired occupant and be interconnected with a smoke detector outside that bedroom(s). The intent is to prevent death by smoke inhalation. A copy of this federal regulation can be obtained by contacting your local HUD Field Office, nearest HUD Regional Office, or HUD Headquarters in Washington D.C. Complaints against applicable landlords may be filed with any of those offices. Several states and cities also have similar requirements requiring landlords to provide visual warning to deaf and hard of hearing tenants in the event of fire.

2. Federal and state requirements do not apply to persons who own their own homes, condos, house trailers and townhouses. However, deaf and hard of hearing owners, and their families, are just as vunerable to the dangers of death by fire.

A combination smoke detector - high intensity strobe light, meeting Underwriters Laboratories and National Fire Protection Association specifications, together with an interconnecting smoke detector, is now available to members of SHHH and the NAD, joining others, at a significantly discounted, affordable price. If either detector is activated by smoke or fire the interconnection causes all detectors to activate and the 177 candela strobe light to flash.

The intent is to prevent death caused by smoke inhalation during sleep. No one should be without adequate fire protection, particularly people who cannot hear a smoke detector.

Anyone wishing more detailed information, including product availability, can contact me by e-mail to ,or by FAX to (301)469-7541. Don Sievers

Subject: TTYs and Modems -- using AT&T to make them connect



Date: 17 Jan 96 11:46:11 EST

Hello again, Karen.

Browsing through your web site, I noticed something about connecting a PC and a TTY for communicating with each other. I am aware of the technological differences between the two. Quite frankly, I loathe using the Ultratec Minicom-IV that my girlfriend gave me to call her up with. The puny 20-character display does not cut it!! AT&T does have Operator Services for the Deaf and its relay service will connect a PC with a modem to a TTY. I am not sure if this is backwards compatable where a TTY user can connect with a modem through AT&T.

Well, for me, it is the preferred method, especially if my girlfriend decides to ramble on forever and I need to divert my attention from the TTY.

The number is toll-free, and like most other relay services, you are billed for what the cost of the call would be without the relay. The number is 1-800-855-1155 and will connect a TTY or modem. Modem settings should be at (well... what works for me that is!) 1200 baud, 8-N-1. If you have call waiting, I would disable that since the call waiting beep can disconnect you. Most phone companies require you to dial *70 or *80 before you dial the AT&T number.

The advantage is that you now have a 80x25 character display as opposed to the 20x1 or 40x2 that are found on many TTY's.

Condsidering what TTY's cost these days, you would figure they would climb out of the stone age and offer a display that can hold more infomation, especially for very fast typers like myself and my girlfriend -- yes, even I must wait for the TTY to catch up with my typing!! Ugh! Ah heck, a used computer system is cheaper than some TTY's today. PROTEST!!


Les Wilson, SUNY Bockport, Brockport, NY
-- Actually living in Spencerport, NY on the banks of the
   scenic Erie Canal and across from some cow farms.  Moo!

Additional Links

Here are some additional links on the topic -- Karen

Subject: Bed alarm vibrators may catch fire

X-Personal_Name: Lester Wilson

Date:  Thu, 28 Dec 1995 12:52:19 -0500

Hello... I am a "hard-of-deaf" person who has a profoundly deaf girlfriend. De finately a learning experience for the two of us, needless-to-say, but we are bo th enjoying it.

Anyways... It seems as though you are following deaf related products (i.e., TT Y/TDD, clocks, etc...).

Recently, my girlfriend lost her home to a fire that was believed to have been c uased by a bed vibrator made by and or distributed by Hal-Hen, which is located in Long Island City, NY.

This device looks like a large fan motor attached to a board, which gets mounted to the underside of the bed's box-spring.

According to other people in the local deaf community here, there have been prob lems associated with this unit. It seems as though it is either overloading the clocks, or overheating if not shut off right away.

Are you familiar with this unit and any opf the problems that are associated wit h it? When she bought a new one, I looked at it, and aside from a very cheap pl astic clock with only a two-pronged outlet on the back for the vibrator, the vib rator itself is doesn't even have a UL (Underwriters Laboratories) sticker, labe l, stamping, etc... on it.

I cannot believe that she paid $107 for this clock/vibrator combo. I cannot bel ieve that there are companies out there who sell poor quality products to the ha ndicapped and deaf for outrageous prices!!

I thought I would pass this on, and hopefully the word can spread throughout the deaf community to stay away from products made by Hal-Hen. We are now shoppin g around for better quality products, and she now relies on me to be her bed vib rator when my clock radio awakens me.

Please pass this on thoughout the community, and let me know what you know about such equipment!! Thanks! Happy New Years!

Lester Wilson -- INTERNET:

My reply

Date: January 2, 1996

Lester -

Thanks for writing to me. I've seen the model I think you're talking about at th e Gally bookstore, but I've never used it myself. I've put your warning up about it on the WWW homepages. Thanks for writing about it. I own myself a "Shake-Awa ke" which seems to work well, although the alarm shuts itself off way before I w ake up, so that's a bit annoying. But the idea of a bed alarm catching fire is a bit worrisome, especially because most people don't have visible fire-alarms. I hope that publishing this letter on the WWW will put some pressure on the manuf acturers to produce better quality equipment.


Response from the manufacturer

Date: Fri, 07 Aug 1998 03:00:55 +0800
Subject: your shake awake clock

dear karen,

i am the manufacturer of shake awake (sa).

in your reply to a letter to the editor i noticed your comment on the sa
alarm clock having an alarm which shuts off before you awaken.  this is
intentional. the alarm duration is 60 seconds. we mfgrs believe that
this is sufficient most more than most users to be alerted.  as sa is
battery operated this is also intended as a battery conservation feature
being that so many users do not actually deactivate the alarm  by
sliding the alarm switch to the 'off' position but simply press the
alarm off button in which case the alarm will automatically go off 24
hours later.

there is a new model of sa which has an auxiliary output on the side for
the user to plug in a separate sa vibrator pad which is currently in
tooling along with several other sa products. use of this would
effectively more than double the vibration experienced.

i would be greatful if you could advise of any website you may know of
where there is any discussion of the benefits on assistive devices for
the hearing impaired.

sincerely yours,
richard rund