Hearing-impaired people face the daily challenge of communicating effectively with others.

To assist the more than 700,000 hearing-impaired and deaf people in the metropolitan area, the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) and the Consumers Organization for the Hearing Impaired (COHI) have opened a demonstration center showcasing electronic devices for the hearing impaired.

"The purpose of the center is for any organization or person who is interested in devices for hearing impaired people to come look, try out and evaluate different devices without any pressure to buy them," said Muriel Strassler, director of public information for NAD.

Instruments on display range from teletypewriters (TTYs) and special clocks with flashing lights to baby crying alarms. "The alarm is placed next to the crib and is sound-activated when the baby starts crying," Strassler said. "A light then flashes in a different part of the house to let you know the baby is crying."

The center does not sell the devices, but acts as an information and referral place for people interested in buying them. Prices, literature and locations where the items can be purchased is made available. "You can't buy these things in a Sears store," Strassler said.

"Be aware there are different options and different prices and one device is not right for every organization or individual," she said. "We don't want you to be frustrated with the wrong purchase."

The center, located at 814 Thayer Ave., Silver Spring, is now open by appointment only but will open on a walk-in basis next month. Those interested in volunteering time at the center or seeking an appointment should call 587-1788.