Communication is key to getting through the day successfully. Whether it’s calling the cable company for repair, checking in with the doctor for a prescription refill or meeting with a supervisor at work, being able to interact with people is a vital part of life. However, what comes naturally for most people is an arduous chore for those with hearing loss. A person who is hard of hearing means that you have a difficult time recognizing sounds and understanding speech. Hearing aids alone are not always enough to clearly discern information, especially when distance, background noise, and acoustic conditions affect a person’s ability to hear. Advancements in technology have opened doors to alternative forms of communication to help bridge this gap. Here are five options available to hard-of-hearing people that make it easier to understand information.
1. Customer Service Via Chat
A very convenient communication option that is now accessible is a live chat service. Companies utilize this feature to provide real-time contact through their websites and apps. People can chat directly with a customer service representative by typing written words. If they have a hearing impairment, this is similar to verbal communication because they get immediate answers to questions and also clearly understand what the other person is explaining. Many different companies offer live chat service and it’s usually accessed through their contact pages.
2. Caption Phone Services
Telephone calls may be very difficult for people who are hard of hearing. Many rely on reading lips to understand what is being said, and phones make that impossible to do. Telephones are available to connect someone with their caller by using a digital display to broadcast the words spoken. Many of these services use a third-party transcriber who listens in on the call and types the words as they are said. When a lot of information needs to be gathered by phone, this option is helpful because a person gets all the details typed for them with only a few second delay.
3. Closed Captions for Video Streaming and Calling Software
Captioning has been available on television and DVD programs for years and has recently become available to internet-based streaming providers as well. This service transcribes verbal language into print that is then displayed on the screen. Up until recently, this option wasn’t always available with live broadcasting. Fortunately, video meeting and calling software systems have made this available too, making live communication and information gathering easier for so many more people. This is vital because it allows them to work from home, speak with their doctor and chat with friends and family in a way that is easy to understand.
4. Transcription Apps on Cell Phones
Being out and about on the town doesn’t mean someone is without captioning options. Speaking face-to-face with other people has become easier with the help of transcription software available on cell phones. These apps use a talk-to-text feature to show what is being spoken. This is great for people shopping at a grocery store, dropping their car off at the repair shop or meeting with a teacher because the phone stays between the two speakers and displays the conversation. The information shared in these types of conversations is always important, so having a way to make this easier for people ensures all the necessary instructions are heard.
5. Assistive Technology for Home Security
Smart home apps make life easier and safer for everyone, no matter what their hearing status is. However, for a person who is unable to hear the doorbell chime or the sound of broken glass, new technology now makes this possible. Security systems connect with cell phones or hubs in the home which light up or receive an alert if someone is near your home or an alarm gets triggered. Live video is an option for people with security cameras installed so they know right away where the alert is originating from. Some services connect directly to emergency personnel so a phone call is not necessary. Having these types of safety measures in place makes people feel more relaxed and comfortable in their homes.
Being hard of hearing doesn’t have to mean missing out on communication. Many new technologies are available that make the ability to gather verbal information accessible to everyone. If you experience hearing loss, consider some of these options the next time you need to hear someone clearly.