Smartphones are a wonderful thing, and the potential they have to help those with hearing loss is enormous. Many apps exist to aid in noise pollution, resolving communication issues and even subbing in for a hearing aid completely. Below are a few options currently available.
($19.99, requires iOS 5.0 or later for iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch)
SoundMeter is more than just a decibel-reader. Equipped with OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) guidelines, SoundMeter not only gauges the level of sound around you, but provides visible alerts when the decibel reaches a dangerous level or when your exposure has gone on too long. SoundMeter also provides safety screening tests for home appliances and kids’ toys, as well as a calibration feature for your home theater or speaker system.
2) Hearing Loss Simulator
($1.99, requires iOS 4.2 or later for iPad)
It’s hard for family and friends of someone with hearing loss to understand how difficult it is for that person to get through a normal conversation. Having never experienced hearing loss, they are oftentimes unaware of the different types of hearing loss or how normal speech sounds to someone coping with them. Hearing Loss Simulator allows you to put in your specific type of hearing loss and play back to your loved ones how you perceive their speech. This is a helpful tool to keep handy, because when someone can see (or hear, in this case) things from your perspective, they’ll likely be more patient with you in the future.
3) TV Louder
(Free, requires iOS 7 or later for iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch))
TV Louder is an app which uses the iPhone microphone to listen to TV sounds, enhances and amplifies sound and plays back loudly through headphones or earbuds. While the app is intended for entertainment and shouldn't be used in place of a hearing device, it can help you to better hear your television without having to constantly adjust the volume or make others watching with you uncomfortable.
($6.99, requires iOS 6.1 or later for iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch)
This app’s predecessor, BioAid, was released to much buzz last year as one of the first apps to act as an outright hearing aid when used with a normal pair of earphones. It was free for download as a trial run, and last fall the developers released AUD-1 as BioAid 2.0, with improvements based on customer feedback. One such improvement is dual algorithm technology, which allows you to adjust each ear independently.
5) Clear Captions
(Free, requires iOS 6.0 or later for iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch, Android)
This closed captioning app translates all your phone calls to text right on your screen. It can also be hooked up with any phone, meaning you can plug it into your work phone or home phone as well, and still see the conversation written out on your iPhone’s screen. Clear Captions translates the entire conversation, so if you miss something, you can scroll up to reread it.
Consulting with your audiologist and keeping up with tech blogs are good ways to stay in the know about current app developments. Many news outlets will also publish “best of” lists to feature the most exciting new apps, and they often include medical issues and hearing loss in the categories of the apps they review. By doing a little of your own research, you can stay ahead of the pack when it comes to new smartphone technology. For once, you might be the one showing your kids something new on your phone.