Talk is not always cheap – but mobile phones and apps can be a lifeline for people with hearing issues, or who are non-verbal. New solutions to old communication dilemmas are being found and developed into viable apps.
Meantime, SMS texting endures just like email, as the most basic mobile app – and its everyday use is now ‘layered’ with new, sophisticated visual apps.
Some of these latest apps include
- SMS texts to communicate where people don’t know sign language
- Text-to-speech apps that vocalise for phone users who are non-verbal
- Real-time captioning with output of spoken dialogue, to a smartphone
- Use of the iPhone FaceTime app by two signers, to sign to each other
- The Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) in digital format
- Translation of signed language into text, on a mobile camera-phone
A reverse-example of a husband who texts his [deaf] in-laws after three years of learning sign language, was recently mentioned in the US media.
In Ireland, a pilot 112.ie SMS service is available, for which deaf users can register. The caveat is that SMS texts are not real-time, but this pilot gives deaf people phone access to the emergency services like never before.
The trick for telecom providers is to realise the huge potential for engaging with subscribers who may use their products differently, and to work with these users to optimise the end product for the benefit of all subscribers.
Quite often, the CEOs of these same telecom providers don’t realise how liberating a mobile phone or smartphone can be for a user with different needs. Maybe if they were deaf for a day, they’d see things differently.
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- Real-Time Captioning At School, Via Mobile Phone
- Deafness Led To The Phone, Internet And SMS Texts
- SMS Texting Supports Inclusive Education In Africa