Technology is a remarkable thing. Every day new developments, gadgets, devices and discoveries are made which have the potential to change the world as we know it. For the deaf and hard of hearing, transcription devices, captioning, amplified phones, bluetooth and of course, hearing aids, are breaking down key communication barriers that can inhibit the lives of many.
As firm believers in the power of technology to transform the lives of people who are deaf or hard of hearing, Deaf Unity enlisted the help of blogger, Ellie Parfitt, to round up the best apps for deaf people. Here’s a snapshot of the fantastic gadgets and tools out there:
Glide – Video Chat Messenger
Glide is a deaf person’s favourite. The famous video messaging app allows you to send super fast videos up to 5 minutes long, and completely hands-free! Other elements include group chats and uploading videos to social media. It’s great for those who use BSL. (Requires 3G/wifi).
Available on both iOS and Android. Find out more about Glide.
SoundHound and Shazam
These are brilliant apps for deaf music lovers! If you hear a song that you like on the radio or at a concert, these apps instantly recognise it and will stream live lyrics to your device. It’s a great way for deaf people to get involved at parties/concerts and to learn the words to new songs quickly and easily.
This is an instant video-relay app specifically designed for BSL users who can’t use the phone. Similar to NGTS, using any ordinary phone, BSL users can communicate with others via a qualified BSL interpreter, with no need for any extra equipment. (Requires 3G/wifi)
Interpreter Now is available on both iOS and Android devices.
The Notes app is usually installed on a smartphone, but it’s really handy for deaf people! If you’re in a noisy environment and can’t quite hear what the person you’re talking to is saying, get them to type it on this app. It’s also good for BSL users who want to communicate with non-signers if an interpreter isn’t around.
There aren’t many on demand apps which have subtitles, which is why Action on Hearing Loss are doing the ‘Subtitle It’ campaign. However, Netflix and BBC iPlayer are leading the way in providing an accessible video, TV and film viewing experience with subtitles.
Mobile Banking Apps
Mobile banking is great for deaf people who can’t use the phone, or who don’t like the hassle of going into a bank and trying to communicate with someone behind the screen. Mobile banking apps are practical for checking balances and transferring money in a few simple steps, without the need to make any calls or speak to anyone directly. Many banks offer free downloads on iOS and Android devices. (Requires 3G/wifi).
Travel Apps – Waze & National Rail
Travelling and using public transport can be tricky for the deaf and hard of hearing. It can be a nightmare catching travel updates, listening out for announcements or even trying to find the information screens. Travel apps such as Waze and National Rail are simple to use, and provide all the information you need on demand, so you can travel confidently and safely, absolutely anywhere.
NGTS (Next Generation Text Service)
This is a fantastic app for helping deaf and hard of hearing people to communicate over the phone via a text relay assistant. NGTS is especially handy for using at work and can be tailored to meet your specific communication needs. You can choose from type and read, speak and read, type and hear, speak and hear options, and it’s really simple to use.
Find out more about NGTS.
This app has a variety of information about places in the UK that are accessible for disabled people. It allows you to search for venues, such as hotels, nature reserves and tourist attractions which might have assistive technology such as hearing loops and flashing fire alarms to make communication and getting around easier. The must-have app for travelling around Britain.
Find out more about Inclusive Britain app.
Skype – Voice Calls, Video Calls & Instant Messages
This is a free to use, video calling app with instant messaging. It’s really handy for deaf and hard of hearing people, because you are always facing the person you’re talking to, and if you mishear what the person says, they can type it into a chat box whilst on the call. (Requires 3G/4G/wifi).
Available on both iOS and Android. Find out more about Skype.
Would you like to write an article for Deaf Unity to spread awareness and provide tips to the deaf community? Contact our editor, Tamara at firstname.lastname@example.org with your ideas today!