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Holiday Gifts for the Hard of Hearing

Here are some suggestions, ranging in price from $15 to $200

Christmas gift

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Shopping for a loved one with hearing loss? You may be able to find a great gift without breaking the bank.

En español | For those on your holiday gift list who are hard of hearing, there are many items they might enjoy and find helpful.

Here are some suggestions, ranging in price from about $15 to $200, which can be found online as well as at hearing centers and big-box stores.

Calendar for a good cause: At the top of my list is the Hear the World Foundation 2016 calendar, featuring glamorous hard-of-hearing foundation ambassadors like Tina Turner in gorgeous black-and-white portraits by Bryan Adams. Nobody's reluctant to acknowledge hearing loss in this crowd. The calendar is $40, and all the proceeds go to the foundation, which provides hearing aids in impoverished areas.

Alternative alarms: One of the unexpected complications of hearing loss is difficulty in waking up on time. When I take out my hearing aid and cochlear implant, I can't hear an alarm. Fortunately, there are solutions both for your bedside table and for traveling.

For your nightstand, several brands and types of alarm clocks wake you with a simulated sunrise. The major manufacturer is BioBrite, which makes many variations of the SunRise alarm clock, which uses light that gradually grows brighter. The basic SunRise clock — no sound — is $119.95. I have one and can vouch for it.

On the road you might want to take a vibrating alarm clock. Again, there are different brands. Some shake the whole bed, which your sleeping companion may not appreciate. The Shake-N-Wake ($16.95) has a wristband. I found it confusing to set, but once set, it worked well.

After I left my Shake-N-Wake in a hotel, I decided to try the Shake Awake vibrating alarm, made by TimeVision for $17.95. It's smaller than the Shake-N-Wake, and it's much easier to set. Unfortunately, if you want to turn it off in the morning, you have to flip a tiny dial behind the battery door. If you just hit "snooze," it'll keep going off periodically until it's finally awakened not only you but also your sleeping partner.

Hearing aid jewelry: Give your hearing aid some bling with Hailey's Cherished Charms, which I wrote about in an April post on hearing-aid chic. Teenager Hailey Rachel Scott, deaf from birth, started her own company and sells hearing aid charms and drop earrings online.

Movie theaters with captioning: Give a gift card to the AMC or Regal cinema chains, which offer captions. Some other movie chains do, too, and soon all will, but for now, make sure the theater actually has the captioning devices.

Membership to a hearing-friendly museum: In New York, for example, the Metropolitan Museum, the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney all have listening devices for self-guided tours. Check the museums in your town.

Buy the book: As I recently wrote in a guest post for my fellow hearing blogger Gael Hannan, there are a number of helpful books on hearing loss that would make great gifts. Or give your loved one a book you think he or she will like, along with an audio version of the same book. One of the very best ways to practice listening better is to read along with an audiobook, weaning yourself off the print version as you get more and more skilled with the audio. Amazon's Kindle makes this especially simple with its Whispersync for Voice feature. The e-book and audiobook remain synced at whatever page you last stopped, on either device.

A helping hearing group: Give a gift membership to a chapter of the Hearing Loss Association of America. and include the group's location and meeting times so your friend or relative can attend. If your area has a chapter of the Association of Late-Deafened Adults (ALDA), that's another good education and support group worth a membership.

Technology for the TV: One of the most frustrating things for people with hearing loss is hearing the TV. You can use captions, but they are often incorrect or slow, and they do require reading while you're watching, which many people don't want to do. Here are three kinds of TV sound enhancers:

The Serene Innovations TV Soundbox Listening Speaker ($149.95) is a simple-to-use way of making the sound clearer to everyone in the room, without blasting the volume. The device is a portable wireless speaker that can even be used in another room.

TV Ears ($59.95 to $199.95) and wireless headphones ($75 and up). TV Ears is a brand name, but wireless headphones intended for watching TV are made by a variety of manufacturers. The listener wears a pair of headphones that rest on the wireless transmitter when they're not being used. Each user needs his or her own set of headphones. (Some of these can also be used in Broadway theaters.)

chair audio loop ($200 and up). For people with hearing aids with telecoils, this small, easily installed induction loop transmits the sound from the television directly into the hearing aid or cochlear implant. It can also be connected to other sound sources.


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