Top 10 iPhone Apps for People Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing

Thomsen Young compiled a handy list of the top 10 "most useful" iPhone apps for deaf and hard of hearing consumers. This is what he has to say about them:

Purple Communications: Unlike TTY or TDD systems, Purple Communications allows you to make phone calls and even better, video phone calls. You have the option to be connected to an operator who then reads your messages to the recipient and transcribes their messages back to you. Or better, you can video call your friends/families yourself and communicate via sign and if they’re not there, you can leave a video message in ASL.

Clear Captions: Clear Captions transcribes phone calls, as they happen, in English or in Spanish. Using a headset, Clear Captions allows you to see the text of a phone call in real-time while hearing it, making it much easier to understand conversations. ClearCaptions is a free captioning service that works together with your phone and your Internet-connected computer. ClearCaptions on your phone call is similar to closed captions on your TV; you can hear AND read what’s being said. This takes the frustration out of hearing on the phone. Instead of asking people to repeat themselves or guessing at what was said, you can read the person’s words which display during your call.

Z4 Mobile: Z4 Mobile allows you to make both point-to-point and VRS calls on your iPhone 4 or iPod Touch (4th Generation). It turns iPhone 4 or iPod Touch into a mobile videophone.

Sorenson Video Center: The Sorenson Video Center allows users of Sorenson Video Relay Service to take videos from a videophone and view them on an iPhone or an iPod Touch. It connects to one's Sorenson account, which it uses to access videos, IP Relay services, and provide easy ways to respond to SignMail videos. It also interfaces with the iPhone's contacts system and many instant messaging services.Significant improvement since the last post.

iASL: iASL is a comprehensive American Sign Language application. It includes a video dictionary, translators, automatic spelling correction, and a number of resources for study. At 403 megabytes, it's a large application, but as an ASL teaching resource, it's highly valuable. Given its large quantity of video content, it's one application that could be better on the iPad's huge screen. Again, significant improvement since the last post and greatly expanding.

TED+SUB: You can watch TED talks with subtitle in your language, watch TED talks that 'Best of the Web', and you can search using both English and your language. This app also gives you the ability to downl TED talks and watch later without WiFi connection. TED is a small nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design.

Tout: Something of like Twitter, but should be taken advantage by deaf/hard of hearing people! Launched in mid-April as a free iPhone app. (The Android version is due late this summer.) Tout allows a user to record a 15-second video from their iOS device, and then post it to their Facebook or Twitter account. While it is a third-party app, the video will also post on a user’s Tout account at the Tout webpage. Even Shaq is doing it ;-)

eBuddy: a multi-function messaging application that makes it possible to make free calls as well as live IM chats from an iPhone or iPod touch over either a WiFi connection or a 3G one. It interfaces to many services, like MSN Messenger, Google Talk, Twitter, and AOL Instant Messenger, and for consolidating all of these into a single application, it could be quite useful.

Captionfish: Historic mobile application is the first to offer streaming captioned movie trailers for the deaf and hard of hearing community on the iPhone. Here are some of the great features you can enjoy on this app: Effortless search, ability to find all the accessible show times playing at theaters within 60 miles of the selected area. You can watch movies trailers with captions as well as get the synopses for all current and upcoming movies. Lastly, you can find theater addresses and view their upcoming schedules!

Dragon Dictation: The Dragon Dictation app is a voice to text app. It's made by Dragon Naturally speaking and it's free. Dragon Dictation  turns spoken speech into text. There are several advantages for using this app, first, if you’re having a hard time understanding what your friend is saying, they can say it again using this app and bingo, you know exactly what they said. Secondly, if you’re hard of hearing, you can use it to practice your speech.

Fantastic short-list. For more Thomsen Young, visit his blog.

Bonus:  Flashing Alert: This one is not an app, but it's a way to get visual alerts from your iPhone, using the camera LED. 

Have a question?

Ask an Expert