Apps for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing

Dec 18, 2010

I am deaf and do not sign. Instead, I have embraced the incredible technology available with the cochlear implant and, yes, you guessed it, my iPhone! Here are some apps I have found to be incredibly helpful.


I rarely make actual phone calls because they usually end up being very one-sided and me going “uh?” “what was that?” “bananas got hairy legs? what?” and with good friends and family, this is fine. However if I need to make a call to, say, AT&T because they screwed up my billing, I have to either have somebody call for me or I turn to this app! IP relay is a federally funded program and it’s amazing. Deaf and hard of hearing can just enter a number to call and an operator comes up. The operator will then explain to the other party what IP Relay is and they say what you type and will type back the responses. A must have for the hearing challenged!



When I go to the movies I usually pick foreign films because they have built in subtitles. However if I’m really dying to see the latest Bond film and don’t want to wait until it’s on video or if a movie like Avatar really calls for the movie theater splendor I can use this app to find the subtitle file and have it play along with the movie. Obviously there are many awkward factors here such as looking down at your phone the whole time, making sure the timing is right and seeing if there is the movie sub file is there at all. Not a perfect app, it would be great if the movie theaters made this available over wifi or cellular data and this would solve all these issues. Until then I’ll make do with this app!

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Dragon Dictation

Though this is not the app’s intended use, there have been times where if I am in a meeting and the person talking is facing away from me (lipreading with the sound I get from the cochlear implant is a big part of how I understand people) I won’t be able to understand them well. I can pull Dragon Dictation up and hold it up to the speaker as close as I can. It’s not realtime, but it can help me put things in context after the fact.


TuneWiki – Lyrics with Music

I love music and I love to sing along off-key with the best of them. While I hear the voices, I can’t make sense of them on my own. That’s where this app comes in handy. Not only does TuneWiki supply the lyrics, but it also scrolls down in time with the song so you know exactly when sing (screech?) out the words!


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