Hearing Loss Challenges- When you need help NOW!

by Envoy Medical Staff Member, on October 31, 2020

Since early March people across the world have experienced a massive change in how we live, work, socialize and get our needs met. It has required unprecedented flexibility mentally, emotionally and physically as we grapple with new communication methods, masks covering everyone’s mouths and subpar sound quality from a variety of different environments and platforms. Managing hearing loss has made each and every aspect of our day to day lives even more challenging.

A friend with hearing loss shared the terrible anxiety she is currently experiencing every time she ventures out and has to speak with someone in a mask. While being assertive and advocating for yourself is important when you have hearing loss, there are some small changes that can make your life a lot easier using technology that’s already available.

Convenience and Ease

Take some time to download apps for businesses you use frequently or visit their website and bookmark it. They make your life easier and are not dependent on your hearing. You can schedule appointments online or make inquiries about specific issues. 

Some of the places I find most helpful are my pharmacy where I can refill and pay online in the app, my children’s school, primary doctor/dentist, grocery store and the library. If you need to make any kind of appointment make sure you share your mobile phone number and opt into text reminders of the date and time.

Smartphones

Oftentimes smartphone phone functionalities are underused. Going to settings/accessibility/hearing can help you make some adjustments. Voicemail transcription (being able to read the text of the voicemail) is available on more phones within the last few years. You can verify with your carrier if they provide voicemail transcription on your phone. It will be turned on automatically if your phone carrier allows it. For more information on how to do this, click here and scroll through.

Specific Apps for People with Hearing Loss

Two apps that many have found helpful are Otter Voice for iPhone and Live Transcribe for Android. Both of these apps are free to use for a limited number of minutes but charge a monthly fee for additional use. They are similar in how they work. Your smartphone becomes a microphone that listens and changes voices to text. This can be helpful if you are having trouble understanding a cashier or pharmacist with their mask on or sitting in a doctor’s appointment where you don’t want to miss anything.  I have tested Otter Voice in a nosier setting at the restaurant table and it worked pretty well too.  This could also be helpful for meetings as it saves and records notes for you. While there are other apps that transcribe they are not free so be aware of this as you find the best fit for you.

Working and Living remotely;  

There are many platforms these days for the remote work world so many of us live in!  Some are better than others in terms of what’s called real time captioning.

For these platforms to work artificial intelligence (AI) is used to automatically create captions live during the meeting. This can be very helpful for context or for situations when the audio is not good. The first company to offer real time captioning happened to be Google, this was a result of a change.org petition sent to Google, Microsoft and Zoom. So far only Google and Microsoft teams has implemented this.

To test this on Google meet either download the free app or go to https://meet.google.com/

Click New meeting, then start an instant meeting and enable your devices camera and microphone when prompted. Click join the meeting. On the lower right of the screen are three dots. Click the three dots and choose click enable captions. Now speak and you will see the words come up on your screen. You can test this on your own. However if it was a meeting with others present the captions would come up when they speak so what they say will be captioned in real time.

While this doesn’t solve everything, it might offer a few things to try that will make parts of your day and life easier right away.

Secific Apps for People with hearing los

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