We’ve all heard of the amazing work done by guide dogs to help blind or vision-impaired people lead a more independent life. But did you also know that there are hearing dogs trained especially to help people with different degrees of hearing loss? The Sam Simon Foundation has a Hearing Dogs Program that trains dogs to alert deaf and hearing-impaired people to sounds like doorbells, telephones, and smoke alarms.
According to the Foundation, there are actually two different categories of hearing dogs. Certified hearing dogs are specially trained to accompany deaf or hard of hearing people in public places outside of the home. They provide their owners with “environmental awareness” by paying attention to all surrounding sounds. The term “certified” is used by the Foundation to indicate that the dog is able to assist people outside the home.
Home hearing dogs are trained to respond to sounds commonly found in the home environment. They’re not certified to work in public spaces. They are a great choice for people who need home assistance but do not require the dog’s help hearing environmental sounds outside of the home.
The Sam Simon Foundation adopts young adult shelter dogs and then evaluates and trains them to become hearing dogs over a 4-6 month period. Then they are matched with an appropriate person, providing them with both assistance and companionship. The Foundation provides ongoing support to their graduates. Hearing dogs are free to California residents with severe to profound hearing loss.
Click HERE for more information on this great program, including how to apply.