New alarm system aids hard of hearing


During a lockdown drill, the alarms now display a visual, words, and flashing lights.

Dylan Mau, Staff Writter

A principal alerts the school that the building is going on lockdown.  Teachers take action securing students in classrooms, but until recently there was no way for people who are deaf or hard of hearing to know what was going on.
As of this year, District 202 introduced a new alarm system that alerts all the students in all buildings whenever there is a potential threat or a drill with not only sound, but lights and scrolling messages.
“With the new clocks that we have it’ll scroll across that there is a lockdown, tornado, intruder, whatever it may be,” Matt Ambrose, assistant principal, said.
Leslie Ramos, ASL teacher, is very pleased with the change the district has made.
“I am thrilled about it. Not just for deaf and hard of hearing students, but also for deaf and hard of hearing staff, not just here at Central, but district wide. We have staff members that are also deaf and hard of hearing. What a great benefit that is,” she said with a smile.
The district office has been working on implementing this system for the past few years .  “We noticed there weren’t any electronics to alert people that are hard of hearing such as in band areas, cafeterias, hallways, bigger gymnasiums, and field houses,” Ambrose said.
Deaf people usually have accommodations at home to help them be aware of the noise going on around them.
“Light doorbells, or visual alerting devices, use light to alert a person that someone is at the door. These doorbells range from a single light connected to the doorbell to a more elaborate system that flashes all the lights in the house,” according to
Rebecca Thom, ASL and English teacher, has a hearing loss herself. Thom believes that the new alarms are helpful in the way that they are providing visual information because people with hearing loss miss audio information.
“There are definitely some thoughts that go on in my head throughout the day that wouldn’t occur to a hearing person,” Thom said. “I don’t think of it as being challenging because it’s all I’ve ever known.”
Zoe Koz, sophomore, has dealt with her sensorineural hearing loss for her entire life.
“I have a hearing loss on both sides of my ears which is why I have two hearing aids,” Koz said. Sensorineural means that she cannot have surgery to treat the hearing loss. When she was in elementary school, she was not able to hear a drill, Koz said. She is thankful for the new alarm system and says they have helped her a lot.
Another student of Thom’s with a hearing loss is sophomore Hayley Parker. She also believes that the alarms benefit the deaf and hard of hearing because they are bright and can be seen by anyone nearby.
Ramos believes that without the flashing light on the lockdown alarm, deaf and hard- of  -hearing students may not be able to tell what is going on.
“If some students have residual hearing, they may hear what’s going on, but the vast majority do not,” Ramos said.