Who Knew Technology Was Our Friend?

June 16, 2017. A few weeks ago, my husband brought out an old movie on VHS we’d never gotten around to watching, ‘A Chorus Line’, filmed in 1985.  For someone who uses subtitles for any programming, this was painful.  There are no subtitles on VHS format tape, and as the tape was so old, it wasn’t the best in sound quality either.  I understood perhaps 1 word in 20!

I’m not big on technology.  I still write snail mail letters.  I read paper books.  I prefer face-to-face conversations, and am always ready to chat over a cup of coffee.  That being said, when you are hard of hearing, you embrace and celebrate technological advances.  Remember the days BEFORE email, texting, captioning services, improvements in hearing aids, cochlear implants?  I marvel at how life with hearing loss has improved!

These days there are many technology-based options that can help the hard of hearing to maintain independence and active lives.  With the large number of portable devices used, such as smart phones, and tablets, did you know that there are even apps that can be downloaded on to these devices?

One such app is a live captioning tool that works with voice recognition, available for a modest price of about $7 (see http://www.livecaptionapp.com/). Here’s an example of its use…you’re in a restaurant, but can’t hear what your server is saying.  Turn on the app, and ask the server to speak directly into your smart phone.  Whatever is said then shows up on your screen.  It’s that easy to use.

I’ve tried a number of voice recognition software.  Most of the time, what comes out is unrecognizable, so I was dubious about this inexpensive app.  However, when we tried it in a legal office, what the lawyer said was captured onscreen, with only a few errors. The text is editable, which is an advantage.

The software works on android phones and tablets, as well as iphones and ipads, and most Bluetooth devices.  It can be adjusted to different languages, and the size of text showing up on your screen can also be altered.

The app is not usable for transcribing phone calls, and may have difficulty correctly transcribing children’s voices and accents.  Because it’s designed to help you identify what is being said, there is no option to directly save the text.  While you can copy and paste it to another format, that adds a bit more work and may not be practical.

The app works with an internet connection.  This isn’t a problem in cities, where most places have wifi, but a challenge in areas, such as rural PEI, where internet is spotty.  The website states there is an offline capability, but I have not tried it.

Do you have an app that helps you communicate more effectively?  Have you tried the live caption app?  Don’t be shy!  Tell us about it.

© Daria Valkenburg