Best apps for hearing loss

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This article is reprinted with permission from the Hearing Health Foundation.

Smartphones have allowed us a degree of freedom and access to communication unsuspected in the not so distant past. While I tried most of these apps, I also relied on developer descriptions and reviewer comments that I researched online.

Many smartphone apps can help you
people with communication problems
and hearing loss.

Also, not all apps are available for both iOS (the operating system used on iPhones / iPads) and Android (which is the operating system I use on my phone), and although many are free or low cost, both are constantly changing, as is the technology itself. Search these apps by name online for the latest. On iPhones and iPads, apps can be found in the App Store, and on Android devices, in the Google Play Store.

Applications for text-to-speech

Google’s Live Transcribe (Android only) is just one of many apps that transcribe spoken audio into text on your smartphone. This app takes it a step further and also reports many background sounds you hear and how loud they are in relation to the speech it transcribes. It supports 80 languages ​​and will record a conversation transcript for up to three days. Use it with your favorite TV show and you’ll find it’s much faster and more accurate than the captions provided by the show. Other options are Speechy (iOS) which converts speech to text and also translates that text to a different language, and Otter.ai (iOS and Android) which can be used with Zoom to transcribe meetings or any event where there is has multiple speakers, like the dinner table.

For voicemail to text, the Rev Voice Recorder (iOS & Android) transcribes your voicemail messages so you can save them, play them back and organize recordings (unlike the voicemail transcription that Apple smartphones already offer).

YouMail (iOS and Android) is actually best known as a popular option for blocking robocalls, but it also offers cloud-based voicemail-to-text functionality, so you can view your voicemail messages anywhere. device.

Personal amplification devices (“pocket speakers”)

Keep a collar or headphones handy and you can turn your smartphone into a “pocket speaker” to amplify the sounds you want to hear with EarMachine (iOS), which in addition to the volume control has a Fine tuning function which allows the user to control which frequencies are boosted, a little or a lot.

There are plenty of volume boosters out there including Max Volume Booster (iOS or Android) and Sound Amplifier for (iOS or Android) – just be careful not to overdo it and damage your hearing!

Sound level meters

The general rule is if you have to yell at your friend an arm’s length away to be heard, it’s too loud. These apps allow you to measure decibel levels using various sound level meters. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health collaborated with EA LAB to create the NIOSH Sound Level Meter (iOS) for use on construction sites as well as during leisure time.

SoundPrint (iOS & Android) works as a sound level meter but then lets you share the location’s decibel measurement to generate a silent list, identifying quieter restaurants and bars in major US cities. You can also distinguish between indoor and outdoor meals when sending a measurement.

See more sound level meter apps here.

Safe alerts and alarms for the hearing impaired

If you’ve ever missed a smoke detector in another room, check out Sound Alert (Android). This device can alert you via notifications, vibrations and flashing lights on your smartphone or tablet when a preprogrammed sound goes off in the house, such as a smoke detector, doorbell, phone ringing or microwave. .

My SOS Family (Android or iOS) connects to a list of “first responder” family and friends who keep them informed in the event of an emergency. Contacts are alerted instantly via the app, not your phone (faster and this frees up your phone). It calls and texts your emergency contacts even if they don’t have the app, and the number of contacts is unlimited. Alerts designate your location using Apple’s Find My Device feature.

Note: There are also many other alert devices and listening assistance systems for the hearing impaired.

Hearing tests

The The Mimi hearing test (Android and iOS), a medical product of the European Union, serves only as a preliminary online hearing test. You will need to follow up with a professional after this initial screening. Using a six-minute hearing assessment, the results indicate the hearing ability of each ear and show how the user’s hearing performance compares to that of others in their age group. (Healthy Hearing also offers a 10-question quick test to help you decide if you should take an in-office hearing test.)

Reduce background noise

Using headphones or a collar and the telecoil (T-coil) setting on the hearing aids, Chatable (Android and iOS) can erase most background noise in an environment using a new approach to the problem. Chatable identifies the voice of the person speaking and, using what is called end-to-end Neural Text-to-Speech, creates a new audio signal that sounds almost identical to the original and removes (rather than filtering out) the sounds. background.

Audio streaming

Audio streaming via WiFi is the latest addition to the battle for assistive listening systems in public places. The catch is that each location might require a different app on your smartphone. MYE Fitness Entertainment is integrated with major health club mobile apps including Gold’s Gym, Planet Fitness, 24 Hour Fitness and many more. It can also be the app used in sports bars to listen to TV. To hear the streamed audio, you can use Bluetooth connected to your hearing aids, or the hearing aid T-coils and a collar.

Tunity allows users to hear live audio from muted TVs. Using patented deep learning and computer vision technology, Tunity identifies a live video stream and its exact timing, synchronizing the audio with the user’s mobile device. It is used by people in bars, restaurants, gyms, waiting rooms, airports and even at home. You can hear with your smartphone connected to hearing aids or headphones that support Bluetooth, or the ever-faithful T-coil / neckloop combo.

Just point your smartphone camera at the TV screen and take a photo. Without giving out any additional clues like a time zone, channel, program title or anything other than this photo, Tunity will search for your show and, once found, stream the audio to your hearing aids. I figured there would be no way this would work, but surprisingly it mostly does – after a few tries and failures, and sometimes the app thinks a show is still on at the end. . You can synchronize the sound to be better in time with the person speaking. I am now a believer!

With so many of these apps installed, my smartphone is smarter than ever, maybe even a genius level.

Other hearing loss apps you might like

We’ve rounded up even more apps and app articles in several hearing categories to help you get the most out of your smartphone or tablet.

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