Below we have listed some of the latest advancements in technology to assist the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. Price along with details on how the products function are featured.
Icommunicator is an amazing product, offering independent communication solutions to the deaf or hard of hearing by providing real time translations of the spoken word. As a person speaks, the iCommunicator converts speech to text, speech to video sign language, or speech to synthesized voice, allowing a deaf user to “hear” what is going on as it happens. There is also a built-in thesaurus and dictionary that can be used immediately look up words and even search the internet for related information. If a professor, for instance, asks a question, the iCommunicator user can type in a response and use the voice synthesizer to give the answer if desired. While this software is quite expensive, it provides one of the best all-around solutions for deaf communication and interaction.
Dragon Naturally Speaking ($199.99)
While not designed specifically for the deaf, Dragon Naturally Speaking allows deaf or hard of hearing people to start the software and have it instantly convert what it “hears” into text. The user can then read what is being said in real time, much like closed captioning on the television. While Dragon Naturally Speaking is state-of-the-art, it does have some limitations. For instance, this would not be suitable for users who are too young to read or who are in environments with a lot of ambient noise. If you are in a situation that allows you to set up a microphone close to the speaker, Dragon Naturally Speaking is a fantastic tool.
Sign Generator 2 ($49.95)
This piece of software is unique in that it creates ASL sign language images above words as you type, translating over 25,000 terms and phrases. Teachers can use Sign Generator 2 to create flash cards, matching worksheets, or entire pages to help deaf students learn the relationship between text and ASL signs. If a term has more than one sign associated with it, users can choose the one that is appropriate to their situation.
My TTY 3.0 ($79.95)
Most TTY devices are priced at well over $200. My TTY 3.0 allows you to use your computer as a TTY device, giving you incoming call alerts, audio signals, caller ID, and more features. You can also communicate with relay services using My TTY 3.0. Copy and paste text, save conversations, customize the font and appearance, and even print text using this software. Everything that you may encounter on a standard phonecall is translated into a visual form, giving deaf users excellent accessibility without the cost of a traditional TTY unit.
As you can see, there are quite a few inroads being made when it comes to technology for the deaf, particularly in the area of software development. The options range from fairly simple and straightforward to quite sophisticated, allowing users to understand spoken words in real time. Tools like these make the world a much friendlier place for the hard of hearing, making traditional classrooms, offices, and other situations accessible. Gone are the days when the only service for the deaf was a poorly orchestrated relay service.