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4 Healthcare Innovations That Increase Quality of Life for the Hard of Hearing
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Medical technology advancements continue to increase the quality of life for the deaf and hearing impaired. From a historical perspective, listening systems, amplification devices and video interpreting services have helped the hearing impaired. The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) states that technology continues to produce various technological solutions that help the hearing impaired. This includes Cochlear implants, vibro-tactile devices and visual alerting devices. The four technological advancements below may potentially increase the quality of life for the hard of hearing.

ISeeWhatYouSay

This handy mobile device app records spoken words, converts it to script and texts the information to the user’s wearable device via Bluetooth. The wearable, which called the Pebble SmartWatch, delivers text notifications right to the person’s wrist. This hi-tech product, which is offered through Digital Army Devices, can also send the text messages to smartphones. This speech to text app can work with other Android wearable devices. The user simply needs to flip the watch towards the speaker, which will then translate the speech into text and notify the user through vibration. This repeatable process can be used to maintain a fluid conversation. This basic app empowers anyone who is hard of hearing to more easily communicate with anyone around them.

MotionSavvy

MotionSavvy is a groundbreaking two-way communication software for the hearing impaired. This technology was developed by student-researchers at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf at the Rochester Institute of Technology. This software translates American Sign Language (ASL) into speech and also speech into text by using a special camera to track the location and motion of hands and fingers. The physical motions of the hands are compared against a database of standard words and potential meanings. Similar to intelligent smartphone apps, the software’s dictionary expands by adding customized signs performed by different users. Thus, the more frequent an individual uses the software, the more accurate the translations become. Customized signs can be uploaded online to share with others.

Hearing Aids

Hearing aids are tiny, battery-powered devices that are worn in the ears to help people hear more clearly. Hearing aids work through miniature microphones that amplify sounds. Some St. George hearing aids boost clarity and the ability to understand speech. Audiologists use software to program the digital chips inside hearing aids to adjust the level of loudness. Many people who are hard of hearing may be elderly or living on a low- to- middle level income. Other new innovations, like The Solar Ear have also been developed. The Solar Ear is a hearing aid battery powered by solar energy. They last for a few years and only cost a fraction of what traditional hearing aid batteries cost. This is extremely important because standard hearing aid batteries only last for one week and their shelf life is only three years.

Wireless Captioning System (WCS)

A wireless captioning system has been developed that could drastically improve the quality of life for the millions of people who are deaf and hard of hearing. A wireless captioning system allows users to receive audible information that is present in public places, such as schools, museums, theaters, businesses, transit stations and sports arenas. Some wireless captioning systems can transmit multiple text streams, so it may be used for language translation purposes. Currently, there are computer software programs, phone captioning apps and wireless-enabled personal digital assistants that can transmit and display audible information. In the future, businesses and public venues may even transmit additional information, like statistics, directions and insightful advice.

The influence of technology continues to help the deaf community across the country. Future scientific research and technological advancements will surely produce more innovative and resourceful solutions for the hard of hearing.




By Rachelle Wilber
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Biography: Rachelle Wilber is a freelance writer living in the San Diego California area. She graduated from San Diego State University with her Bachelor's Degree in Journalism and Media Studies. She tries to find an interest in all topics and themes which prompts her writing. When she isn't on her porch writing in the sun you can find her shopping at the beach or at the gym.

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