Home Design for Hearing Loss: Tips for Creating a User-friendly Home

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We all know how safety and comfort features make a home feel like a haven. For the millions of Americans who report trouble with hearing, home enhancements and updates that increase comfort, safety, and convenience aren’t just “cozy” ideas. They’re essential for enjoying a satisfying and independent life at home.

The great thing about modern home design tips for people with hearing loss is that they can be implemented at any time. It’s not too late to get a “custom” home just because a home is already built. It’s helpful to know about features that enhance quality of life for people who are hard of hearing when taking on a home remodeling project that will close gaps that are leading to struggles and frustrations.

It can also be helpful to have a list of must-have features when shopping for a new home. In fact, certain features should be on the radars of people who are hard of hearing, parents of children who are hard of hearing, children helping their parents with hearing loss, family members of veterans dealing with hearing loss, and anyone else involved in a situation where home life can be enhanced by hearing-focused features. It’s amazing how much quality of life can improve when a home feels more accessible for people with hearing loss. Let’s take a look at the design elements and technology upgrades that make life at home better for those who are hard of hearing.

Design Elements To Consider When Creating an Accessible Home

Wider Hallways

Tight hallways can be tough for people who are hard of hearing. While many American homes are built with narrow hallways designed for single-file walking, having the ability to walk side by side while communicating is essential for someone who relies on lip reading or ASL. Wide, short, and curved hallways can all be great options for maintaining eye contact. As Cleveland Clinic points out, facial expressions and body language add vital information to the message being conveyed during interactions with individuals who are hard of hearing.

Open Floor Plan

An open floor plan can be a breath of fresh air compared to blocked-off rooms because this setup allows for larger sight lines. Clear, unobstructed views make speaking across a room much easier. Openness can be especially important in the space that links the kitchen with the main living area because this is where most household conversations occur. Another tip is to use rounded walls and corners instead of right angles to avoid “cutting off” one room from another when building or reconstructing a home.


Acoustics in a home can dramatically impact the quality of life for someone with hearing loss. It’s not necessarily about just allowing sound to “travel better” in a home. The wrong acoustics can actually cause painful, distracting echoes and vibrations that can degrade hearing. Here’s a rundown of the core acoustic points to hit in a home:

  • Windows: Ideally, a home designed to accommodate the needs of someone who is hard of hearing would have high-end double-pane or triple-pane windows that insulate the interior against sounds. Someone looking for a budget fix can consider weatherstripping, caulking, or adding heavy drapes to repel road noise and outside sounds.
  • Ceilings: Lower ceilings help to cut out distracting and disorienting echoes. In a home with higher ceilings, acoustic tiles can prevent sound from bouncing around. Another “cheap fix” for high ceilings is to use lots of plush materials on the floor, walls, windows, and furniture to stifle echoing.
  • Flooring: There are two ways to look at flooring when designing a home for people who are hard of hearing. First, some people actually like “hard” floor surfaces because they can be used as communication tools. Tapping a foot or cane against a tile floor can be great for getting someone’s attention. However, others prefer to cut down on echoing by selecting carpets, vinyl flooring, or softwood.


The right lighting can enhance visual acuity for people relying on lip reading and ASL to communicate. The goal is to create even, balanced lighting throughout the home that allows facial features and expressions to be easily read. Lighting should be consistent from room to room. In addition, it’s important to balance sunlight and shadows to ensure that a home maintains consistent lighting at all times of the day and night. In high-sunshine rooms, shades and curtains are essential for diffusing direct sunlight that can obscure features, expressions, and movements. Generally, recessed lighting can be a good option for creating shadow-free lighting.

Don’t stop at indoor lighting. Outdoor motion-sensor lighting is essential for creating good visibility when entering and exiting the home. Audit walkways, driveways, patios, and other spots for visibility to determine the best spots for motion-based lighting. Sensor lights can also deter intruders.

Color Schemes

A home’s palette can increase ease and comfort for someone who has hearing loss. Cool, calm colors that don’t cause distractions with conflicting patterns and designs are preferred. One tip for making a home an ASL-friendly home is to contrast paint and fabric tones with skin color to help define signing. Avoiding high-reflectivity colors and sheens is also smart. The “no” list includes bright whites, glossy shades, and shiny finishes.

Technology Additions for Safety and Comfort

Technology has become the ultimate home accessory for those who are hard of hearing. For those who have already integrated technology into their daily lives for learning and communication purposes, implementing technology into a home’s design is a fantastic way to improve quality of life without a construction project. Here’s a look at some of the best technology upgrades to make a user-friendly home.


A smartphone-integrated living space can make life at home feel boundless for someone who has hearing loss. For millions of people with hearing loss, smartphones are already essential communication tools both inside and outside the home. Linking smartphones with compatible devices around the home creates confidence, convenience, and safety without big architectural upgrades. Currently, several hearing aids offer options to sync with in-home devices to control home settings, get alerts and notifications for events happening in a home, and call for help.


Whisper-quiet appliances can make a huge difference. Noise pollution from older, clunkier appliances can make it hard for a person with hearing loss to hear essential sounds. Upgrading to quiet appliances can help with that. In addition, newer appliances with smart-app capability for controlling and monitoring functions provide people with the ability to control their surroundings on a single screen.

Security Systems

It’s common for people who are hard of hearing to feel vulnerable at home because they can’t always be confident that they’ll detect signs of danger based on “telltale” sounds alone. In reality, everyone is safer when they have their homes outfitted with smart and connected security systems. A modern security system that links phones or tablets to alerts and live surveillance screens can help people with hearing loss to feel informed and prepared.

A smart doorbell is one of the most essential security features for a user-friendly home for someone who is hard of hearing. Linked with a monitoring camera, a smart doorbell provides both text and visual alerts whenever visitors arrive. Newer technology allows for certain security systems to link to smart bulbs that are programmed to flash specific colors to notify homeowners of specific situations. Bulbs might turn red for fire, blue for flood, or green for strong winds to create instant recognition when quick action is needed. Finally, it’s essential to have a non-auditory alert system in place for smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Syncing text, strobing, or color-based alerts to a phone allows for quick, life-saving action.

Smart Bed Shaker

The smart bed shaker is shaking up what many people thought were the limits of technology in the home. Bed shakers are capable of being fixed to any bed design and are great for emergency and everyday uses. These Wi-Fi-enabled devices produce significant shaking much stronger than a standard smartphone alert. They are great for daily wake-up alarms. Most allow for charging with a battery backup to ensure constant connectivity. The best part is that bed shaker devices are typically linked to Alexa and Google Assistant to provide constant assistance.

Final Thoughts

The Importance of Inclusive Design

With so many great upgrades and technologies available for people who are hard of hearing, it’s not always necessary to start swinging a hammer just to create a user-friendly home for someone with hearing loss. It’s also not necessary to be intimidated by the price of upgrades. When building a new home, working with a builder to craft a floor plan that allows for face-to-face contact in main living spaces is a great way to ensure clear communication within the home using layout alone. If a remodel is happening, the simple act of opening up a space to eliminate walls can make communicating easier.

Of course, not everyone has the budget to create a custom living space. The good news is that small lighting, insulation, and acoustics upgrades can eliminate the “noise and shadows” that often make life at home frustrating for individuals who are hard of hearing. Significant upgrades in quality of life can be enjoyed simply by adding some smart technology to a home that costs $100 or less. What’s a good place to start? Simply create a list of the top five “frustrations” encountered at home daily. Next, use the list above to create a plan for correcting those frustrations using everything from a single tech purchase to a living-space transformation.

Additional Resources for Individuals who are Hard of Hearing:

National Association of the Deaf Fair Housing Resources

Seniorliving.org: Senior Living Options for the Deaf and Hearing Disabled

Hearing Loss Home Modification Checklist


1. https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/statistics/quick-statistics-hearing 

2. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/4050-hearing-loss-tips-to-improve-communication-with-people-with–hearing-loss 


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