Want to feel even more connected to the world around you through the power of sound? There’s an app for that!
Actually, we’ve compiled a list of six apps that can help support your communication wellness.
This Google app for Android-powered smartphones doesn’t translate but does transcribe in-person conversations in real time. The program — developed with Gallaudet University, the renowned U.S. school for deaf and hard-of-hearing students — can turn speech from more than 70 languages and dialects into text on your phone’s screen in a matter of seconds, facilitating communication with quick, helpful captions. It even supports bilingual chats, letting you toggle between languages, and allows you to type your responses rather than speak them if so desired. Bonus: The app can also notify you of important sounds — the beep of a smoke alarm, for example — in your home.
Though it can’t replace professional instruments or expert opinion, this app uses your compatible mobile device’s built-in microphone to measure the sound level in your environment. On a global scale, some researchers estimate that 16 to 24 percent of hearing loss is associated with occupational noise. Excess noise is one of the most preventable causes of hearing loss, making it important to know the sound levels where you potentially spend a lot of time — at work — so you can curb your risk. The app can also help approximate noise at stores, restaurants, or anywhere else you may need to protect your hearing.
How does artificial intelligence right at your wrist sound? This exciting smartwatch-based application can alert you to the sounds around you, making daily life even easier. The application, developed especially for people who are deaf or hard of hearing, uses machine learning to alert the user to certain types of sounds they can preselect — a car honk, a cat’s meow, a baby cry, or running water, for example. It’s not for emergencies or other high-risk situations but could help enhance general awareness of your environment.
This app for children and adults teaches basic American Sign Language (ASL) with Oscar-winning actress Marlee Matlin, who is deaf. ASL, common in the U.S. and Canada, offers a way to connect with others regardless of their hearing ability but can be especially useful for those who are or have friends or loved ones who are deaf or have a severe to profound hearing loss. Other ASL-instruction apps are also available, so consider using a few different ones to explore finger-spelling, conversational signing, building vocabulary, helping babies communicate, and more.
This app takes noise measurement to a whole other level with its decibel meter coupled with the ability to upload results to the user community via a searchable database. Users can look for restaurants, gyms, subways, and other spots by categories such as “quiet,” “moderate,” “loud,” or “very loud” sound-level ratings. Like the NIOSH Sound Level Meter, SoundPrint doesn’t replace a professional device, but it may help approximate noise levels in a given space.
OK, this one isn’t an app, but it’s just as convenient. The AGX Online Hearing Quiz — developed with audiology experts — takes only two minutes and provides a quick snapshot of your general hearing ability based on three broad aspects: the listening environment, the different tones you can hear, and your ability to hear speech amid noise. It doesn’t replace a true diagnostic hearing exam, but it will indicate if you can benefit from further testing.
As with any app, availability, functionality, and cost can change. The mobile apps listed above are free as of this writing, but compatibility with iOS- or Android- powered phones, tablets, or watches can vary per program, so be sure to read about them in the relevant online app store for more details.
Have questions about using apps with your hearing device? We’re here to help. Contact our caring team today!
Find Your Favorites
A whole world of apps awaits, so don’t hesitate to build your own list of healthy-hearing faves. Get started with these simple tips:
- Search by keyword, developer name, app title, or product category to turn up results you may want to check out.
- Carefully read the app description and system requirements. Some apps might also offer a demo you can preview before buying or downloading.
- Learn what others think of the app by reading users’ comments and professional reviews that may be available online.
5 Tips to Hear Better in Virtual Meetings + Gatherings
Working remotely with hearing loss can be a big challenge.
Whether you’re conducting business online or just want to virtually connect with family and friends, these listening strategies and tactics can go a long way toward helping you stay engaged.
- Explore the conferencing platform well before the online meeting or gathering — including reading a little about it or checking out a few quick instructional videos from other users — to build familiarity and confidence.
- Encourage everyone to use the video function — not just the audio option — to aid in lipreading and interpreting facial expressions. Also, try to keep your eye as much as possible on the person speaking rather than on your own camera image.
- Turn on the closed-captioning option, which can help take a big load off. In addition, consider using the real-time chat function, when available, to get clarification if you missed a point or have a follow-up question. Some video conferences may also be recorded for helpful playback later, so be sure to ask the host, who may need to initiate the recording option.
- Wear connected headphones if possible, which can make listening a whole lot easier. Quality headphones not only help block distracting background noise in your environment but can also improve reception of the audio’s full tonal range to make speech and other sounds more understandable.
- Stream directly to your hearing technology, if you wear hearing aids. Today’s sophisticated hearing instruments help make it a cinch to receive audio from various sources — phone, tablet, laptop, desktop computer, stereo, and more, depending on compatibility — directly to your ears, so be sure to take advantage of that functionality.
Want more virtual-communication tips? We can help with accessibility strategies and solutions that empower you in managing hearing loss and remote work. So don’t wait. Contact us today!
Q: What is live speech mapping, and how can it help me?
A: Excellent question! Live speech mapping is a mechanism for fine‑tuning hearing aids to the specific pitch and volume of your loved one’s voice and other important sounds. The procedure has been around a while, but many people have likely never heard of it. Let’s take a closer look at three things: who might need live speech mapping, how it works, and why it matters.
WHO MIGHT BENEFIT
Hearing technology has made a world of difference in helping people of all ages communicate their best, but some patients who use hearing devices might still experience difficulty understanding the one voice that matters most to them — typically a spouse or other close relation. In our experience, many people in that situation have found that live speech mapping improves their ability to understand critical speech.
HOW IT WORKS
During the mapping process, a skinny tube with a tiny probe microphone is placed in your ear canal along with the hearing device — don’t worry, it’s painless! Your spouse or another familiar voice that you want to hear then reads a paragraph aloud. The microphone allows us to precisely measure:
- The sounds your hearing aids are producing at your eardrum
- The way your device’s current settings are processing speech
We then see on the computer monitor exactly where the speech is falling within your audible range and can adjust your devices accordingly.
WHY IT MATTERS
Maximizing your hearing devices involves tailoring them to your specific listening needs. Live speech mapping can play an important role in that, helping you more clearly perceive and understand the critical voices in your everyday life. As a practice committed to empowered communication, helping you hear on your terms is important to us. We want you to hear your best so you can live your best.
If you haven’t experienced live speech mapping and want to hear your loved one better, we highly recommend a visit to see how this valuable diagnostic procedure might support your listening goals. So don’t wait. Contact our caring team today. We’re here to help!
Hearing loss can seem daunting, with its ability to affect relationships, self‑confidence, physical health, and more. Taking charge of it, however, can go a long way toward keeping you feeling empowered and engaged.
Start with these 10 helpful do’s and don’ts:
- DO know that you’re not alone. Hearing loss is a growing public-health challenge — the third most chronic condition in the U.S. and Canada. Science is always on the case, however, and effective solutions are available right now.
- DO stay atop your hearing health with regular checkups — just as you would for your eyes and teeth. Early intervention with the help of a licensed hearing care provider can make a big difference in your quality of life.
- DO maintain your hearing aids, which are powerful but require care. DIY cleaning, storage, wax-guard changing, and battery-charging are easy tasks. Bring your devices in periodically for professional clean and checks, too!
- DO explore your devices. Some of today’s hearing aids not only stream phone calls and other audio directly to your ears but can interact with innovative apps, handle remote fine-tuning, loop into venue sound systems, and more.
- DO try to optimize your communication environment with steps such as facing your conversation partner, sitting away from noise, choosing spots with good lighting (for lip-reading), and giving helpful feedback — including nonverbal cues or words of encouragement — to the person speaking.
- DON’T ignore hearing issues. Hearing acuity can change over time — or due to injury, medication, or infection — making it important to seek help if listening clearly or understanding certain sounds seems harder than it used to be.
- DON’T forget the importance of good nutrition, which can play a role in ear and hearing health. A recent Brigham and Women’s Hospital study, for example, found that certain dietary practices may help curb the risk of hearing impairment by 30% or more.
- DON’T tolerate excess noise, which can lead to hearing loss or worsen an existing hearing problem. Loud sounds are among the most common and preventable causes, so limit your exposure and keep quality hearing protection on hand.
- DON’T hide hearing loss from loved ones. Family members — also affected when someone has a hearing issue — report improvements in relationships, social life, and more when the problem is addressed. Consider tackling it together.
- DON’T deny yourself compassion and patience. Adjusting to new hearing technology can take time and some fine-tuning, so expect adjustments and know that it’s all about ensuring you’re hearing — and living — your best.
Have questions about managing hearing loss? We can help. Contact us today
Early Hearing Testing: 6 Reasons It Matters
There’s an old saying that “Knowing is half the battle,” and that adage couldn’t be truer when it comes to your hearing and quality of life. Hearing loss affects more than your ability to communicate, so we’re sharing six reasons to have your hearing tested sooner rather than later.
- FALLS — Untreated hearing impairment is linked to falling, which is more common among people with hearing loss. In a 2012-published study of 2,017 adults ages 40 to 69 and led by Johns Hopkins and National Institute on Aging researchers, those with mild hearing loss were nearly three times as likely to have reported a fall. Ears play an important role in helping maintain balance, making it important to identify and address hearing problems early.
- BRAIN HEALTH — Hearing loss can potentially take a toll on the brain, which may have to work harder to process sound. In addition, an ever-growing body of research connects hearing loss to other problems such as faster brain atrophy, earlier onset of major cognitive decline, and up to five times’ higher risk of dementia. With hearing aid use, however, age-related cognitive decline could slow as much as 75%.
- DEPRESSION — Research supports a link between hearing loss and depression. Older adults with hearing loss, for example, have a 57% greater risk of experiencing deep depression than those without it, per a Johns Hopkins investigation. With hearing aid use, however, the odds of depression may be lower, according to another study.
- FINANCES — Did you know? Research suggests a link between untreated hearing loss and higher medical costs, with older adults paying some 46% more — about $22,434 — than their normal-hearing peers in a 10-year span. In addition, annual household earnings can take a hit of as much as $30,000 with a hearing loss, but treatment with hearing aids could reduce that risk by up to 100%.
- CHILD DEVELOPMENT — The impact of hearing loss on children reaches beyond the physical and emotional effects, with implications for their academic-, social-, and communication-related development. For example, 25% to 35% of kids with hearing loss in even just one ear may risk failing a grade level. Early intervention, which could make a big difference in a child’s quality of life, starts with testing.
- RELATIONSHIPS — Adults with unaddressed hearing loss report reduced social engagement, more emotional turmoil, and other challenges that could affect their relationships and more. The good news? Not only do adults treated with hearing aids report significant improvements in their social lives and relationships with families, but their loved ones do too, per research from the National Council on Aging.
Some 466 million children and adults around the globe have experienced disabling hearing loss, according to the World Health Organization, but only a fraction receive care. Empowerment starts with answers, so don’t wait. Stay atop your hearing health by scheduling a comprehensive hearing evaluation with our caring team today. It’s easy, painless, and helps you stay on the path of better hearing and improved overall wellness.