Smartphone Apps, Tools, and Tutorials for the Hearing Impaired

There are many apps, tools, and tutorials to help just about anyone leverage their smartphone for their own greater good. This blog will look at some of those options currently available to assist those living with a hearing impairment.

Apps

The Internet is a wonderful place to learn about the various apps currently available to assist persons living with hearing loss. Each section provides a brief overview of its contents. More info for each section is available from the linked site listed towards the beginning of each paragraph.

Apple products have an entire website dedicated to accessibility for their devices. This page of iaccessibility is dedicated to hard of hearing accessibility apps. If you are deaf or hard of hearing, you can communicate in a variety of ways with iOS features like FaceTime® video calling and unlimited texting. And assistive technologies such as closed captions and mono audio help you enjoy your content. As of this blog and in addition to the built-n programs mentioned, it provides links to 49 IOS compatible apps for the hearing impaired. These apps range from American Sign Language to Lyft and Uber.

Live Transcribe is an app available for Android smartphones from the Google Play Store. It is an accessibility app designed for the Deaf and hard of hearing and usable by anyone. Using Google’s state-of-the-art automatic speech recognition technology, Live Transcribe performs real-time transcription of speech and sound to text on your screen, so you can more easily participate in conversations going on in the world around you. You can also keep the conversation going by typing your response on the screen.

Sound Amplifier is another app available for Android smartphones from the Google Play Store. It enhances audio from your Android device using headphones to provide a more comfortable and natural listening experience. Use Sound Amplifier on your Android device to filter, augment, and amplify sound in the real world. Sound Amplifier makes audio clearer and easier to hear. It works by increasing quiet sounds while not over-boosting loud sounds. With 2 simple sliders, you can quickly customize sound enhancement and noise reduction to minimize distracting background noise.

The San Diego Hearing Center provide a few more options for both IOS and Android phones in the linked article. Some of these apps allow you to test a baseline of your hearing.

Tools

There are many tools and accessories that can be purchased to turn your smartphone into a magical bag of tricks to assist you in most areas of life.  These are but three of the many choices currently available.

The AlarmDock Smartphone Dock with Bedshaker is a docking station that pairs with a personal smartphone and uses a wireless bedshaker and 100dB alarm to wake a hard sleeper or someone who is hard of hearing. It uses a free iOS or Android app to manage alarms, timers, volume and tone control, flasher activation, and large clock read out. A wireless speaker can play music from the phone in clear, full sound.

The InstaLINK Smartphone Alert Watch is a wearable wristwatch that can be easily paired to your iPhone or Android smartphone to receive vibrating notifications while using the free iPhone and Android App. The strong, quiet, and non-intrusive vibrations will not disturb others while attending lectures, classes, business meetings, or out socializing. Use this wristwatch as a personal alarm clock and as a discreet way to keep you in touch with your smartphone.

The SmartShaker2 Bed Shaker for Smartphone is a Bluetooth pillow vibrating disk that is designed to operate with your smart phone as a vibrating alarm clock. Just download the user-friendly app, for free from the app store, and this SuperShaker2 can become your favorite alarm clock for home and whenever you are traveling. Place this disk under your pillow, beside you, or in your general vicinity while you sleep. When your alarm time has arrived, this disk will vibrate to alert you that it is time to get up.

Tutorials

If after looking at all this information and you’re still scratching your head at what to do and how to do it there are many built in phone features and outside tutorial sites that can be of assistance.

Deaf and hard of hearing videos and podcasts, available from iaccessibility, provides a page of linked devices and subject matter to choose from covering topics such as hearing devices, subtitles and captioning, and TTY software and includes how to videos/podcasts for many IOS compatible devices.

The Best New Accessibility Features in Android 10, from Lifehacker, provides the current accessibility features for Android 10 phones. Many of these features started with Android 9. Each of these features is found from the accessibility option under phone settings.  Please note that not all options are available on all Android phones at this time, but this article does list the current phone model compatibility.

Understanding Hearing Assistive Technology (HAT), from the Hearing Loss Association of America, provides a lot of information and resources about the various types of hearing assistive technology currently available.

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