Innovation making the world accessible and equitable for hard of hearing people

Today is the UN  International Day of Persons with Disabilities with the theme of innovation and the role in enabling accessible world.

I have been thinking about the innovation in ICTs relating to deaf and hard of hearing people and here are the few I would like to share.

  • Bluetooth direct audio streaming to hearing aids and cochlear implant processors – just answer the call and the phone communicates directly with your hearing aid! Listening to music needs a bit of work around, my workmates have no idea when I listen to my favourite song 😊
  • Auracast – the new Bluetooth LE Audio, promising direct streaming from many electronic devices to hearing aids and implant processors. Dream come true? About to find out!
  • Smartwatch or fitness band vibrotactile notifications – imagine not hearing urgent call when your smartphone is somewhere in the bag! Your smartwatch will wake you up too if you wear it overnight.
  • Online Group Meetings– no need to turn your head 180 degrees! Lipreaders can see participants faces. Much better than stress of unpredictable face to face meetings with many participants. Auto captioning helps but ability to have professionals supporting communication remotely in the online meetings is a game changer.
  • Smartphone video calls – WhatsApp, FaceTime and Messenger allows deaf signers and lipreaders to communicate with ease.
  • Auto captioning – exploded with leaps and bonds during pandemic and provided vital instant access to communication. Yes, it is not as accurate as human captioning but it continues to improve. Google Meet is my, “go to platform” for ease and instant set up as well as captioning on demand but please Google stop censoring swearing in captioning. Lately, participated in Microsoft Teams meeting with Polish auto captioning and was pleasantly surprised 😊 Zoom still remains my 1st choice for webinars and group meetings.
  • Live Transcribe- My day to day life saver during the pandemic and everyone wearing face masks. Many deaf and hard of hearing people relied on this instant support where they could not get communication support. Today, new Android smartphones have Live Transcribe integrated in their accessibility features.
  • Remote captioning– for sure one of my favourite go to communication support service. Thanks to the technology and internet, we can free up time taken captioners for travel and allow access to communication regardless where deaf person lives. The remote captioning, with the real-time captioner providing service  is also often used in areas where the service does not exist.

This is not exhaustive list, but those are my favourite.

What are your favourite innovations that have transformed your life?

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