As well as your cochlear implant, there are a number of devices to help maximise your hearing
experience, stay connected and independent. These range from safety devices
available and installed by the Fire Service and St John, to smartphone technology
and assistive devices to pair with your cochlear implant.
Below is a guide to technology and assistive devices you may find


Alerting Devices


There are smoke alarm systems available that can help alert you when an alarm
goes off in your home and it’s vital you have a system fitted that can alert you to
potential danger.
The systems incorporate sensory alerts specifically for people with hearing loss,
such as:

  • vibrating pads
  • vibrating pagers
  • flashing lights


What a smoke alarm system should do.

  • When you’re awake, an alarm needs a bright flashing light to alert you to danger. You will need a number of strobe lights positioned throughout your home or when you are awake, or carry a vibrating pager
  • At night, a vibrating pad for under your pillow to alert you when you’re asleep. This should also come with a warning light function to alert you if it has been accidently disconnected from its power source.
  • The smoke alarm system should have enough range to cover all parts of your house and an easy-to-use test button, to check it regularly.
  • A battery backup is essential in case of a power-cut to enable the system to keep working for at least 72 hours.

Smoke alarm systems wirelessly link the smoke and heat detectors to alerting
devices. Some are part of a multi-alerting system that notifies you of the
doorbell, telephone and other alerts. Reid Technology has a range of alert
systems to suit your needs. Click on the button below to learn more.


How much do hearing assistive smoke alarms cost?

These smoke alarm systems are a higher investment than your standard alarms,
though if you are living with a severe to profound hearing loss, you are eligible
for government-funded support. You can request a needs assessment through
your local hearing therapist at Life Unlimited. They liaise with the Fire and
Emergency service to conduct a fire safety test of your home as part of the
assessment. You can find your local Life Unlimited branch by clicking the link
below and get in touch to organize your needs assessment.


Home fire safety check

Your local fire and emergency service can visit your home and carry out a fire
safety check independently or as part of your needs assessment organized by
your local hearing therapist at Life Unlimited.
The fire service will:

  • check for any fire risks and let you know how to reduce or prevent them 
  • assess  how many smoke alarms and the appropriate alert system you need for your home
  • give you advice on what action you can take in the event of fire.

For a comprehensive overview of the Hearing Assistive Technology (HAT) that the Fire Service supports, click the link below.

Fire and Emergency (HAT)


You can book in a free fire check independently of the needs assessment by Life Unlimited, although we would recommend you go through Life Unlimited as funding is available for the specialist smoke alarms you need.

To find out more, visit the Fire and Emergency website by clicking the icon below.

Fire and Emergency

At home, we tend to have numerous alarm systems for different things:

  • Alarm clocks to wake us up
  • Smoke alarms to alert us to fire dangers
  • Door bells to let us know someone is at the door

There are a number devices and options available that can help alert you when an alarm goes off in your home which can be integrated into one system, known as a multi-alert system. The one most readily available in Aotearoa New Zealand is the Bellman System


Alarm clocks

There are alarm clocks specifically designed to assist people living with hearing loss, and these normally include having an extra loud alarm, a flashing light and a vibrating pad you can put under your pillow. If you use an alarm on your smartphone or tablet, you can also use a vibrating pad to alert you. This can connect to your smartphone or tablet using Bluetooth. 


Multi-alert systems (Bellman & Symfon Alerting Systems)

These connect two or more of your alert systems, such as your doorbell, phone and smoke alarms. The interconnected systems send alert notifications to receiver devices, which vibrate, flash lights and sound alarms. Some systems also have an option to receive alerts on your smartphone. For a comprehensive overview of the systems, check out the Reid Technology website below.

The multi-alert system, including your smoke alarms, doorbell and alarmclock maybe funded as part of your needs assessment. Please enquire with your local hearing therapist at Life Unlimited.




St John Medical Alarms support independence at home, offering peace of mind to families and are the only medical alarms that connect directly to St John. Their team also offer home safety assessments to help you identify safety risks at home.

There are three medical alarm options offered by St John that are tailored to differing lifestyles.  For example:

  • If you spend most of your time at home, they offer a home plan.
  • If you're more active and are out and about more, there’s the Mobile plan.
  • You can also combine the two to get the best of both worlds through their Home & Mobile plan.

Below is an infographic from St John highlighting the benefits of each system.

Prices range from $80 a month for the home plan to  $120 a month for the home and mobile plan. To find out more about the Medical Alarms, and funding options, please visit St John’s website below.





Communication Support

There are a number of communication devices and apps that can make life easier and break down some of the barriers those living with hearing loss may face.


There are a number of features on smartphones that can help with communication when using a cochlear implant (and hearing aid).  Recent Cochlear Implant models (N7 Cochlear) and hearing aids have been made to be accessible with iPhone  (MFi) and Android smartphones.


What is MFi and Bluetooth technology

Made for iPhone (MFi) technology means a cochlear implant or hearing aid can connect directly to your smartphone and stream audio to them. MFi was developed by Apple and can also be used with Android phones, although they may not have all the same features. All smartphones do have Bluetooth technology though which enables them to connect remotely/wirelessly to other hearing assistive devices.


Helpful smartphone features

All smartphones come with a number of accessibility features which you can set to your own personal preference. You can find them by going to your phones general settings menu and choosing:

  • The accessibility menu
  • Clicking the feature you want (eg Hearing)

On iPhone, you have a Hearing Device option which you can choose either an MFI device, such as your cochlear implant processor or a Hearing Aid Compatibility Option.

Accessibility features that can be activated on most smartphones include:

Flash notifications

The phone will flash a light to notify you about a call, message or alarm.

Left and right sound balancing

This is usually a touch slider control, where you can increase or decrease the volume of sound for each ear.


Turning on this setting, the left and right headphones/ear pods will play exactly the same audio which is useful if you have better hearing in one ear than the other. It balances the volume in both ears.


Other helpful features in the general settings

Sound and vibration settings

Set your phone to vibrate for calls, messages or alarms.


App Store

Speech to text apps

Available through the app store on your phone, you can download free or paid

speech to text apps. These can be helpful as they enable you to read a transcript of everything that is said in a conversation, making sure you don’t miss out important parts or misinterpret what has been said. Some popular speech to text apps are:


Live Transcribe for ios (iphone)

Google transcribe live  (for Android)


Cochlear implant devices that connect to your smartphone

Cochlear has a Phone Clip that connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth.

The clip makes hearing and talking on your smartphone easier as it streams calls straight to your sound processer. It also helps with:

  • Listening to music or videos from your smartphone or tablet
  • Listening to GPS navigation in your car
  • Using your smartphone's voice command
  • Composing text messages

To find out more about assistive devices available to pair with your Cochlear device, click on the link below.




Video calling on your smartphone, tablet or computer is a great way to connect us to friends, family and work and is often easier than a normal call as you can see the speaker’s lips. Some even have a live captioning feature, but beware, if the speaker has a strong accent, the captions can be interesting!

Below are some of the most popular video calling apps available on your devices.







Watching the TV, listening to your favourite podcast, music or radio station can be challenging, but there are a few tips and devices that can enhance your hearing experience. This includes

  • adjusting existing settings on your TV to help you hear better
  • using captions
  • using assistive devices to help you.


TV Settings

You can change the existing settings on your TV to make programmes easier to watch.  Access your TV’s settings through the on-screen menus, using the remote control (you may need a PhD in TV settings to navigate this!)


Sound settings

If you’re feeling brave after navigating thee TV settings, you can branch into the sound settings.

The treble and bass

Increasing the treble sound setting (higher pitch sounds) can make speech clearer, particularly ‘S’, ‘T’ and ‘F’ sounds and reducing the bass (lower pitched sounds) can mitigate the bass masking out the high pitched sounds.

Advanced tone control

If you struggle to hear specific pitches, you can boost them to make them easier to hear.

Speech enhancement

This makes it easier to hear dialogue over background music and sound effects. Just to confuse us more, this is known be different terms by differing manufacturers. So look out for: ‘Clear voice’, ‘Voice enhance’ or ‘Dialogue clarity’.


Most streaming services, such as Netflix, Neon, and Amazon have captions available for all their programmes, but local TV only has captioning on selected programmes. Captions can be turned on or off through your remote control.


Assistive technology for your TV

There is also technology and assistive devices available that can help you better hear your TV.

TV and Bluetooth streamers

TV or Bluetooth streamers are helpful when you have cochlear implants as they send the audio directly to your cochlear implant processor. The added bonus is you can have personal volume control while enjoying TV with your family without the need for captions or turning the volume up to uncomfortable levels for others in the room.

Check out the TV streamer from cochlear below.