Accessibility, Communication tips and apps for hard of hearing
NOT-SO-FUN FACT: There are over 360 million people around the world who suffer from hearing loss. That’s a lot. If you’re newly hearing impaired, you may be wondering about things like communication tips for hard of hearing, or “Is there an app for the hard of hearing?” In fact, there are quite a few!
If you’re one of us hearing impaired people, you know that it can be difficult to get by in a world where most people take their hearing for granted. There are no subtitles in real life! If you’re looking for advice for hard of hearing, or tips for communicating with deaf and hard of hearing, this is the spot.
If you’re not, maybe you stumbled on this post trying to help or understand someone you know who has hearing issues.
You are most welcome too!
did someone say backstory?
I’ve been hard of hearing all my life, although it used to be better. I was born with one fully-functioning ear, so at first, my only issue was being unable to discern where sounds came from. Now, I have 20% hearing left, as well as tinnitus.
While the tinnitus + 20% hearing combo is fairly new, my hearing loss started over a decade ago. Back then, I was told that I would most likely go deaf before I got to 30 (still a year and some left… but I’m well on the way) and I was given a hearing aid, which was useful for school, but I still had too much hearing left to actually appreciate it, so I mostly didn’t use it.
That was the good ol’ days when I had more than 60% hearing left!
In this post, I’ll share with you five ways that you can improve your quality of life as a deaf or hard-of-hearing person, whether it’s new to you or not(although these may be things you already know if you’ve been deaf for some time). These solutions made my life better, so I hope they help you, or someone you know, too!
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Skipping the obvious
I won’t be talking about a hearing aid or cochlear implant here, because it’s a fairly obvious choice. Hearing aids and cochlear implants help to amplify sound, which can make a world of difference in your ability to communicate with others and function in everyday life. However, it doesn’t replace real hearing.
By that, I mean that eventually, you take off your hearing aid. Or worse, the battery dies. It can make for unfortunate situations where we feel helpless.
Funnily enough, I call it “the obvious” while I don’t currently have one myself. Believe it or not, I keep forgetting to make the damn appointment…
Deaf? Use your phone.
That sentence definitely sounds counter-intuitive, but there are some really good phone apps out there for us. The first one I want to talk about is Ava which will transcribe speech in REAL TIME on your phone when someone speaks, so you can read it.
It also works in a group conversation. Each participant installs the application on their smartphone and using the microphone, the conversations are transcribed! There is a desktop version available too.
Oh, and it’s free! It does have a paid option with premium captions, and I do recommend it if you use it a lot.
Next level Speech-to-text
The second app is Rogervoice which allows you to have access to real-time transcription of phone calls. Not only that, but it also allows you to answer with a synthesized voice system if needed, which is extremely useful for anyone with a speech impediment or any reason that talking on the phone isn’t a good option.
The next one is Sound Alert. This app provides something I didn’t even imagine was possible. It records a specific sound of your choosing (the first one I recorded was the microwave… food is life) and it will give a light and/or vibration cue when it hears it again, so you know the sound is happening even if you don’t hear it!
I was pretty floored by that one.
My own fancy doorbell
I don’t know about you, but my phone is usually on silent mode. I can still hear well enough for notifications to bother me! If that’s the case for you as well, or if it’s just a better solution than an app, I suggest this wireless doorbell, which has a thousand-foot range, many sound and volume options as well as a LED light for visual warnings. It is also very affordable!
This one is more about my paranoia than my difficulty hearing, but I know I wouldn’t worry as much if I had two fully-functional ears.
For context, I live in an apartment, and my bedroom is basically the farthest away possible from the front door. With a ton of generalized anxiety added to very poor hearing, I am always worried that if someone were to try to enter my apartment, I would be taken by surprise as I wouldn’t hear them.
This portable door lock is usually for travel and hotels (and I certainly use it for that too!) but it provides an extra layer of safety that calms my anxiety. I mostly use it when I go to sleep.
* Also useful against annoying siblings
High-pitched noise of HELL
Last but not least, losing hearing can often come with tinnitus. If that’s the case for you, I am SO sorry. If it isn’t, I am happy that you don’t have to live with this absolute bullshit.
Can you guess if I have tinnitus or not? Hahaha… Fake laugh, hiding real pain.
One moment while I laugh at my own reference… (Oh yeah, I’m THAT kind of person)
Masking tinnitus can be done. I found many videos online for it, and it’s super useful.
However, know what I didn’t find?
ASMR and sleep/relaxing videos for hard-of-hearing are basically non-existent. I’ve looked around, but I couldn’t find anything.
I enjoy going to sleep with these kinds of videos, but the “normal” ones are not careful about sudden spikes of loud noise. My videos have to be loud. At the volume I have to use to hear the ASMR, a seemingly harmless “clack!” at a normal volume gives me a heart attack and a half. I AM JUMPY AS HECK Y’ALL.
So I made them.
Introducing Rainbow Rave. Rainbow Rave is a YouTube channel I made a while back so I could upload 1-hour ambiance and music videos of all kinds. I enjoy them, so I am my own audience, really. Feel free to check those out!
Now I will be expanding my hard-of-hearing friendly ASMR and sleep videos, as well as some tinnitus-masking videos, so that we can enjoy all of that without PANIC JUMPS.
I am slowly uploading more stuff, so you’ll see more things pop up every now and then. I take suggestions, and I enjoy almost anything, so I’d be happy to know what you’d like as a video in the comments here or on my YouTube channel!
I hope this post was helpful to you! Being hard-of-hearing is relatively new to me, so some things on my list may seem obvious, but for anyone who is new to this and wants some pointers, I wanted to make a blog post about my best finds!
Be sure to comment below if this was helpful to you, and subscribe to my email list here for exciting news! I hate spammy emails so I won’t be annoying, promise!