Smart Technology Supports Hearing for Older Adults

June 6, 2023

Mobile devices are everywhere you look, but what about older adults? If older adults are not yet using mobile devices for making phone calls or texting, there is another reason these devices may have an appeal. Smartphones and tablet computers are now offering a variety of software and applications that can serve as Hearing Assistive Technology (HAT).

Mobile devices are every-user friendly these days, providing icon buttons on the device itself or on each screen that allow users to navigate with ease, if nothing else, back to the “home” screen. Many devices are lightweight and have options to enlarge the screen for easier viewing of pictures or text.

Amplification apps
Mobile devices can now be used as portable listening devices with several available apps (and more likely in the making). Apps range in use from amplifying sound or selective frequencies to adjustable frequency response and recorded buffers, which allow conversations to be replayed. Unfortunately, at this time, there is no regulation or warning of maximum output. This puts the user at risk of causing further hearing damage if the device and application are not used appropriately. Ideally, apps should be recommended and monitored by an Audiologist who would be able to make the most appropriate selection and could assist in monitoring the output and safety of the device.

Apps that fit into this category include EARs, EarTrumpet, Hear, HearingAid, iHearClear, SoundAMP Lite, and UListen-Sound Amplifier.

Visual and telecommunication apps
Other options include visual and telecommunication apps. Visual Apps can convert speech samples to text when amplification is not enough. Other visual supports on devices, like ZOOM or Apple’s “FaceTime,” provide video of the person talking so the viewer gets visual cues of facial expressions and lip/mouth movements to aid in understanding the auditory message.

While mobile devices can be used for the purpose of hearing assistive technology, they do not replace well-fit hearing aids. Still, these apps can provide possible solutions for problems not solved by hearing aids alone.

Do you, or an adult you know, need support with hearing and communication? Contact us to find out more about the services we provide.

Lesner, S. A. & Klingler, M. (2011, October 11). Apps with amps: Mobile devices, hearing assistive technology, and older adults. The ASHA Leader.

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