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Apps to help the hard of hearing

Posted Dec 09 2010 5:45pm

Written by Rhian Gillam,
There has been a lot of advancement in technology within the last few years and the release of smart phones have seen the introduction of technology and apps that aim to make life easier for the hard of hearing. Large companies have recognised that when developing their technology this is a section of market that they need to cater for more and more.

When Steve Jobs, the chief executive of Apple, discussed the launch of the iPhone 4g at the Worldwide Developer Conference one of the new crucial features to be unveiled was video-calling. Whilst this is not a new technology as several handsets have had this feature for many years, many users have previously never used this feature other than to maybe carry out an initial test. The reason may be that on previous handsets the video was usually of poor quality and out of sync. However, Apple aim to change this, iPhone 4 allows users to make video calls to one and other using a WiFi network.

At the conference Steve Jobs showcased the application called FaceTime by showing the audience a video of the application in action, part of the video showed two deaf friends communicating in sign language. The difference between Apples attempt to make this application a success is that the processing power and the resolution of the screen is vastly improved on this handset compared to that of previous makes and models. With this technology historically receiving mixed reviews it will be interesting to see if Apple’s history of making the unpopular popular will work with this technology. If this application does work it will make communicating using sign language on video calling accessible to many more users.

Network providers are also now catering for customers who will be using features other than voice calling on there handsets. In previous years all the contracts available for an iPhone have limited the amount of text messages that can be sent. Many of the larger network providers have now introduced contracts with not only unlimited internet but also unlimited text messaging meaning that hearing impaired users can use SMS and email to communicate more effectively without worrying about the additional cost.

There is now a number of interesting apps that can be downloaded to the iPhone to help the deaf community. As previously reviewed on the site the RNID have The Hearing Check application, this allows iPhone users to check their hearing. This application remains a popular choice for users; there is also an application to help with tinnitus. The application is called Ringing Relief; it emits a low frequency hum into your headphones treating users to three low frequency hum treatments.

TapTap is an app that notifies users that there has been a noise around them, the noise may be a knock at the door or a person talking in there direction.The phone will then vibrate or flash gaining the attention of the user and allows them to respond to the noise.

There are several apps that turn your handset into a hearing aid SoundAmp and Ihearclearly use noise cancellation to reduce background noise and provide and improved audio quality. These can be used in places such as lecture halls, at parties, watching tv or in the cinema.

Another useful application for the cinema is Subtitles; this allows user’s access to a huge library of subtitles for films and the subtitles are available in up to 20 languages. The app allows you to jump forward and backwards to get to the right place in the film. It is recommended that you do check that the film you wish to see is within the library before you go as new release films may not be available right away.

There are several other applications that come recommended, whilst these are not specifically focused on improving hearing they are very useful and worth mentioning. The first is Instapaper, this application allows you to cache any webpage and read it when off line. This can be useful iPhone users who commute to work and may lose the reception on there phones or for iPad or iPod Touch users who are unable to get a Wifi connection. The next is AroundMe, this app will identify all the facilities around you such as cash machines, hospitals and petrol stations. It will also accept manual searches for specifics such as restaurants. It will then put the details on a map and allow you to gauge how far you will have to travel. Or, if you have an interest in eating out then The Good Food Guide 2010 is a very useful application, it is the online version of the best-selling printed guide.

The app includes guides with full reviews and you can also use the GPS to find a restaurant near to you. Don’t forget when eating out that many restaurants now have money off vouchers available through online applications such as . There is a vast array of vouchers available that can be redeemed through many different outlets so ensure you double check for a discount before you buy.

Coming soon... Top five IOS apps for the hard of hearing from Zen College Life Blog.

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