Exercise your ears: Apps and games to keep hearing sharp
In the age of stunning technology, people living with hearing loss have many options - literally at their fingertips, if they have a smartphone, tablet or laptop - to improve their hearing through fun games and exercises.
Here are some of the top apps for both adults and children to improve hearing and keep it sharp:
Apps for adults
CLIX from Advanced Bionics
Advanced Bionics, which is a global leader in cochlear implants, recently announced a new suite of apps for hearing rehabilitation for cochlear implant and hearing aid wearers. CLIX is the first developed, and it helps adults practice listening for word differences in both noisy and quiet environments.
Play It Down
Play It Down is for people of all ages. It's a cool free app that does three important things:
- It plays songs as they would be heard by someone with hearing loss, which is a good way for people without hearing loss to know how things are for others.
- It can test your hearing to tell you the "age" of your ears
- Play It Down also has a feature that will tell you the decibel level of your surroundings to let you know if the noise is potentially damaging.
LACE Auditory Training programs
The Listening and Communication Enhancement programs were developed by leading audiologists at the University of California at San Francisco. The LACE programs exercise the brain to comprehend speech better in difficult listening situations, like when talking with rapid speakers, in group environments and in noisy restaurants. The LACE programs are available on DVD, software or web-based.
Forbrain® relied on ear and hearing anatomy and research on the audio-visual loop to develop its suite of applications. When using Forbrain®, an individual wears a bond-conduction headphone with a dynamic filter microphone to help the user focus and work on his or her own voice and the most pertinent sounds. Read a text out loud or speak to another person and your own voice stimulates your brain.
This site has brain games to improve your attention and keep you cognitively fit. Try the games specifically focused on sound to give your brain and ears a workout.
These online brain training games are free and provide opportunities to work on your memory, perfect your processing speed and improve your attention skills. The site does not yet have audio games but is working on them.
Lumosity is one of the more well-known brain games and brain training sites. It is subscription-based, though some games and a limited mobile app are free to try. Many people swear by Lumosity for improving their memory and attention and giving their brains some exercise.
You can also download various audio books, which are enjoyable, low-stress and also a good way to practice your listening.
Apps and games for kids
Children can benefit from many of the apps above, though it's much easier to grab their interest with apps where hearing rehabilitation is disguised in bright, fun games tailored to kids. Here are some good ones:
Angel Sound™ from TigerSpeech Technology
Angel Sound™ is a free, computer-based interactive listening rehabilitation program for children with hearing loss, those who use hearing aids or cochlear implants or children with auditory processing disorders. Angel Sound™ uses bright, fun characters and automatically adjusts to children's developing skills. It allows them to practice identifying and discriminating between sounds.
This app is good for both speech and hearing. In Category Carousel, children touch the picture, hear the word and then sort it by dragging it to a category. This helps language development and encourages children to think about words in various ways.
Yes, just like the old-fashioned Simon Says game, this one in app form allows children to practice their listening and concentration skills. It uses stimulating images and helps children with hearing loss be exposed to and differentiate sounds.
Fast ForWord® products
These games are similar to Lumosity, but for children and teens. Fast ForWord® is based on neuroplasticity - research that shows that the brain can reconfigure and change itself throughout the life cycle, especially with stimulating input. Fast ForWard® tackles language and reading difficulties, including phonemic awareness, vocabulary, fluency, comprehension, grammar, syntax and working memory. It's great for children with hearing loss because, oftentimes, due to having difficulty hearing, these children also struggle with language production and development as well.
Children can also benefit from listening to audiobooks, especially if they can follow along with the print version. For children with hearing loss, this can help link sounds to letters and improve difficulties that come with reading and hearing loss.