Five recent technological advances that are changing deaf people’s lives

Posted on October 29, 2014

1. Next generation text relay

Once the mainstay of communication for deaf people, Text Relay or Type Talk, as it used to be known, was being ever more replaced by email, texting, skype or video relay service. Now Text Relay is on the rise again after months of delays and years of decline with a new modern service.

The Next Generation Text Relay (NGT Lite) app does away with awkward prefixes, can be used across different devices and on the move. Finally, deaf people have the means to make a call to anyone, on the move, at any time.

With NGTR, away go expensive text phones and even the cost of landlines for deaf people.

2. Motion Savvy – Sign Language Recognition

Companies that say they can create software to understand sign language are not new. So far, no company has been able to translate the concept into something that works actually works or is viable. Could this be it?

Motion Savvy say their new device will be able to see and understand sign language and then interpret it. They even say that they can take into account variations in sign language. It will be out next year they say but only in the US.

3. Phonak Roger Pen – discreet advanced listening

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The Roger Pen has taken the radio aid, often despised by school-age deaf children, from the clunky to the inconspicuous. It has also made the radio aid something adults could use in public.

Radio aids, or FM’s as they are known, have a reputation for being cumbersome or fiddly or for getting in the way. Designed to help children hear a teacher in class, many a deaf child has become an unwitting eavesdropper to staff toilet activity as forgetful teachers continue to broadcast live from the cubicle.

In simple terms, Roger is a moveable microphone that connects directly to hearing aids, thus bringing the speaker’s voice closer to the hearing aid wearer cutting out background noise. It’s slim, simple design means it looks like a pen on the table or clipped to a jacket, rather than a sophisticated radio aid.

4. Convo light App – house lights flash to mobile phone alers

Using Philips Hue, the wifi enabled lighting technology, Convo Light App can change the colour of lights in the house or make them flash when a call or message is received on a smartphone. Using interesting colours and mood lighting, scaring the living daylights out of the family will become a thing of the past.

5. Google Glass – in vision speech to text and speech recognition

Whether or not people would be up for using wearable tech remains to be seen, but city dwellers with good mobile data connections could well be using Google Glass soon to provide on the spot voice recognition.

Google’s voice recognition is already well advanced so how long will it be before deaf people make full use of it?

Speech-to-Text company 121 Captions have developed software for Google Glass that can provide remote captions via Google Glass which means deaf people, flanked by stenographers and laptops during meetings could be a thing of the past. It’ll all be done remotely and via Google Glass. Or will it?

What technology do you think should be included on this list? Let us know in the comments.

Andy Palmer is the hearing father of a Deaf son, and is also a child of Deaf parents. He is Chairman of the Peterborough and District Deaf Children’s Society and teaches sign language in primary schools. Contact him on twitter @LC_AndyP

The Limping Chicken is the world's most popular Deaf blog, and is edited by Deaf journalist and filmmaker Charlie Swinbourne. 

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