Alarm Technologies to Wake Sleeping People Who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing

Erik Smedberg, Enrico Ronchi, Victoria Hutchison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Traditional fire alarms emit a high-frequency sound to alert the occupants of an imminent threat, which may be less appropriate for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. To address this issue, the scientific literature concerning alternative alarm technologies has been reviewed to evaluate their effectiveness in awakening people who are deaf or hard of hearing. The results show that low-frequency alarms, bed shakers and/or pillow shakers seem to be the most reliable existing technologies for this group of people. The main codes and standards relevant to these technologies have also been screened. This highlighted that a new standard for alarm technologies incorporating tactile signals might be needed. In addition, this paper presents the responses of 36 people who were deaf or hard of hearing participating to a survey in which their experiences and preferences in relation to fire alarm technologies were investigated. While some technologies have been identified in the literature as potentially effective, the survey responses indicate that people who are deaf or hard of hearing do not necessarily use them.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2485-2507
Number of pages23
JournalFire Technology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Mechanical Engineering

Free keywords

  • Deaf
  • Egress
  • Evacuation
  • Fire alarm
  • Fire safety
  • Functional limitations
  • Hearing impairments
  • People with disabilities
  • Sleeping people
  • Smoke alarm


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