The Use of an Assistance Dog for people who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Many people have heard of individuals using dogs to assist them with their visual difficulties, but the use of dogs for people who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing is less understood by the general public. Hearing dogs for the deaf alert their owners to sounds, both inside and outside of the home. Some deaf people also choose to get hearing dogs for safety reasons.
The general public's lack of understanding about dogs for the deaf has been known to cause a problem for some hearing dog owners. Some restaurants or stores where the owners are not aware of the current Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) laws, have either told deaf owners to leave their dog outside, or refused them service. Some have even gone as far as saying, "You clearly aren’t blind! Why do you need a dog?"
These dogs are assistance dogs that have been very well trained and are not just your average pet with a vest on them. It is the owner’s responsibility to keep them well groomed and to monitor their behavior, but because of the extensive screening and training process these dogs go through, disruptive behavior is rarely a problem. These dogs are trained to alert their owners of different sounds such as a siren, fire alarm, crying baby, telephone, or car horn. It is through the use of these dogs that many deaf people say they become more independent and interactive with their surroundings. The dogs are trained to learn obedience, correct response to sounds, and how to respond to voice and hand signals.
There are resources out there to educate yourself about assistance dogs of all types and the laws that apply to them. Assistance / service dogs have also been known to work with individuals dealing with mobility assistance, seizure alert, medical alert, autism and psychiatric issues.
Find out more:
- Dogs for the Deaf, Inc.: An organization that rescues and professionally trains dogs to help people and enhance lives.
- About Dogs for the Deaf, Inc.'s hearing dogs
- General information on hearing dogs for the deaf from About.com
- Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements for service animals
- Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) commonly asked questions about service animals in places of business
- Dogs for the Deaf, Inc review of assistance dog laws
Sound Friendships: The Story of Willa and Her Hearing Dog
By Elizabeth Yates
The story of Willa Macy, who lost her hearing when she was 14, and Honey, a golden retriever, who helped her to discover a new world of independence and security. It is also a story about Hearing Dogs - their background, training, special abilities, and the unique relationship they develop with their owners.
Luke and his hearing-ear dog, Herald
By Andrea Zoll and Arlene Garcia
A book for children about a deaf 9-year-old boy Luke and his hearing dog.
Written by a hearing dog trainer, the book includes tips, trainer's secrets, and why hearing dogs are the fastest-growing facet of the assistance dog industry.