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Technology for Deaf and Hard of Hearing People

Since Alexander Graham Bell’s invention of the hearing aid, Technology is HUGE for Deaf and Hard of Hearing people. Share your interesting stories about technology and how it has support Deaf and Hard of Hearing people’s lives.

36 Comments to Technology for Deaf and Hard of Hearing People:

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Krista Tudisco on Wednesday, April 12, 2017 11:51 AM
As I researched technology and the impact it has on Deaf and Hard of Hearing, I wanted to search for something I hadn’t heard of yet. I was reading one article and it mentioned a product called SubPac. This peeked my interest, so I clicked the link to read more. I have to say, today’s technology amazes me. What a cool product to bring music to those that would otherwise not “hear” it. In a nutshell, the SubPac is a wearable device that makes music tactile, feeling sound, instead of hearing it. Users wear two tactile transducers right on their back, so they feel the music’s vibration both directly and through bone conduction. Shaheem Sanchez, a deaf freestyle R&B and hip hop dancer, uses the SubPac. He said, “When I first tried it on, it felt like an earthquake took over my body…and that’s a good thing!” Without it, Sanchez said choreography is harder, having to rely on memorization of the beats and counting. “It’s amazing how you can feel it [music] just like everyone else. You can dance to the same song for both worlds (the hearing and the deaf),” he said. “Deaf people will never feel left out.” In the beginning, SubPac began as an aid for musicians and producers who wanted to feel bass they couldn’t easily hear. But deaf artists quickly joined the SubPac user base. When Nyle DiMarco competed on Dancing with the Stars, SubPac outfitted the guest section with seated versions of the device, so the audience could feel the beat as he danced. As a hearing person, after reading this article, I realized how much I take hearing music for granted. How exciting to have a product that can bring music to everyone. I would be curious to know if this is a realistic product for someone that is deaf or not so much.
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Francisco Garcia on Thursday, April 13, 2017 8:02 PM
I've never heard of this technology and I find it amazing. Deaf people not feeling left behind anymore. Yes that's what I want to hear. They should really invest into making this product. I'd definitely get it for my older brother. I would like him to experience feeling tbe vibrations going down his back of the music. It would seem scary at first but after getting used to it I think he would like it.

Cynthia Rivera on Thursday, April 13, 2017 8:23 PM
It is amazing how some people care and invent new technology to help Deaf and hard of hearing people as well. Now I know music is not only for the hearing world. I am glad there are inventors in this world who help the Deaf culture be equals to hearing people in the world. Sanchez and Dimarco are an example how they enjoy music, like anybody else. Both are show that being Deaf is not an impediment for them to continue and realize their passion.

Meghan Auclair on Sunday, April 23, 2017 2:47 PM
This invention was very interesting to read about because I've never heard of anything like this before! The other thing that I thought was interesting was that it wasn't created specifically for deaf people although it can be very beneficial for people like the dancer you mentioned.

Unnza Butt on Wednesday, April 12, 2017 8:40 PM
In 2016 Two undergraduate students at the University of Washington invented a game-changing invention: SignAloud Gloves. tThese gloves have the ability to recognize the motion of one's hand and whatever they are signing in ASL, and translate it into English aloud. Similar to hearing aids, these gloves can be used every day as they are light, easy to use, and only cover one's hand. I think if deaf people were to use this, they would have a lot easier time communicating with people. The only thing is, deaf people may still have trouble understanding what others are saying back to them, even if they can now sign and translate into English language.
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Krista Tudisco on Wednesday, April 12, 2017 10:11 PM
This article is an example of when innovative minds and technology merge. The SignAloud Glove and the concept behind it are forward thinking. Some questions came to mind while I was reading. If there is only one glove, what happens to the signs that use both hands? Or, like Unnza said, does this only benefit the hearing? Also, I got the impression the two inventors hoped to make a universal signing glove. As the article pointed out, ASL is it's own language and does not overlap other countries. I hope these two gentlemen continue to improve on their invention. This idea of making communication more accessible between the Deaf and hearing may one day be the norm. It might be as easy as looking at our watch.

Francisco Garcia on Thursday, April 13, 2017 7:47 PM
I've read about these gloves before. I feel as if it's a disadvantage though because sometimes what you may sign isn't what it will translate it too. I believe it will work they just need to make it the opposite way so the hearing can respond to the Deaf. If they're able to talk to the glove so that it can sign to the Deaf I believe it will be revolutionary. Little things like that are what make it better for hearing to communicate with the Deaf.

Cynthia Rivera on Thursday, April 13, 2017 10:16 PM
I read about this invention a couple months ago. It is impactful how two men worked to make a technological glove that made communication between Deaf community and the hearing world easier.This is a very wonderful invention for Deaf, hard of hearing, and hearing people in the world. I hope this technology becomes affordable and be helpful for all of them who use it.

Francisco Garcia on Thursday, April 13, 2017 8:48 PM
I was able to find a technology called Motion Savvy UNI. It was founded by a group of students from Rochester Institute. This technology is the very first two way communication software for the Deaf. It's able to translate ASL into speech and speech into text. The way it does that is by a camera that tracks the location of both hands and then fingers. I think it would work but you need to pay attention to their facial expressions not just their hands. Any technology that's coming out for the Deaf is able to work we just need to think of all the options.
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Krista Tudisco on Thursday, April 13, 2017 9:40 PM
This invention seems like a positive step for the Deaf and hearing worlds to come together. With the rate of advancements in technology, I wouldn't be surprised to see a product like this available to the masses sometime in the near future. Reading about this product and the product Unnza shared, the technology is there, it just seems to need fine tuning. For a deaf/hard-of-hearing person, to be able to walk into any store or business and ask questions using technology like this would be a huge breakthrough. It might even help extinguish the uncomfortable feeling hearing people tend to have when trying to communicate with a deaf person and vice-versa.

Cynthia Rivera on Thursday, April 13, 2017 9:20 PM
The article makes some good points about how some technology advancement has helped Deaf people and hard of hearing people to have better communication with the hearing world. For a long period in this country, technology changed very little for the Deaf community. Most inventions were made for the hearing world. Some inventions like Hearing aids, Cochlear implants, TTV phones, FM system, internet and cell phones have changed the Deaf culture. Thanks to technological advancement Deaf people have more opportunities in the hearing world. The article claims technology could be putting Deaf culture at risk. However, technology progress can provide good benefits to the Deaf community. One good factor is Deaf people could communicate easier with the people who don’t sign. Also with technological advancement Deaf people and hard of hearing don’t have to wait for interpreters. With the new technology, they will not have any difficulties in a conversation with the hearing world. All the new technology doesn’t change my opinion that the government should make a law of every school should teach at least the basic of ASL that way the hearing people and Deaf people can have more communication. It will be easier for Deaf and hard of hearing to communicate. Technological Advancements and their Affect on Deaf Culture - Lifeprint
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Sara Beltran on Monday, April 17, 2017 10:11 PM
I agree that technology, like most things, has is pros as well as its cons. While some members of the deaf community might feel threatened by technology advancements, others may feel empowered. Therefore, in order to accommodate everyone, there needs to be a healthy balance and people need to become familiar and educated on these new advancements in order to form a better understanding on the impact they can have on them as well as those around them.

Kirsten Mattson on Thursday, April 13, 2017 10:07 PM
When I was searching up technology for the Deaf I came across this device called Uni. It’s so new it’s still in the prototype stage. Uni is a type of interpreting device that was originally made to help Deaf people communicate with hearing people. Especially with helping them with finding work that is more than just washing dishes or other low paying jobs. Uni is a device that goes on an IPad or tablet. It has two cameras that read a person’s signs, gestures, and movements and translates them into spoken English. The devise uses a robotic voice similar to siri. As the hearing person responds in English the device uses voice recognition software to show the response in a text format. I think the coolest part about Uni is you can personalize specific signs. For example names signs, or signs that are specific to a certain area or region. This could help minimize the potential for error. I think this device will be very useful and beneficial for the Deaf community I hope to see the device in the future.
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Sara Beltran on Monday, April 17, 2017 10:06 PM
That is a very interesting concept. The unemployment rate for deaf and hard of hearing folks can be high sometimes so coming up with a way to potentially close that gap would benefit many people in the long run. I am curious to see how this device plays out beyond the prototype stage.

Lexie on Friday, June 16, 2017 11:42 PM
I think that this would be a very benefiting piece if technology for deaf people because it will help them with better and more employment

Sara Beltran on Monday, April 17, 2017 10:01 PM
I stumbled upon an article on the Atlantic written by someone in the deaf community. This author was raised learning ASL but has gravitated to oral education. The author discusses a new type of cochlear implant that can be worn outside rather than inside the ear. The device is currently being tested out at MIT and Harvard. The concern that the author has for this new piece of technology is:"Deaf people wearing internal cochlear implants will have trouble validating themselves as deaf to hearing people who don’t see a physical device on their heads. The loss of that visual cue will blur the line between the oral deaf and the hearing." I understand where this author is coming from while addressing this concern. Having a non visible cochlear implant can alter one's connection to the hearing world. However, it can impact one's connection to the deaf community as well. There is already so much division when it comes to devices such as cochlear implants. To some, it seems like using such devices is a way of trying to "fix" or "cure" being deaf. And that can be seem as offensive. Basically, this article went more into detail about an issue that I learned a little bit about last year in ASL 1 while reading "Deaf Like Me." There will always be a divide about what is the best way to go about being deaf or hard of hearing, the oral, or manual route? Everyone is entitled to make their own decisions, but there will definitely be opinions about it regardless.
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Jordyn Michaelson on Wednesday, April 19, 2017 9:54 AM
In my research for this assignment, I stumbled upon an article online from Forbes entitled, "4 Game-Changing Technologies for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing." I saw a couple of previously listed technologies from this blog in this article, but one that stood out to me was something called Solar Ear. Solar ear is a solar powered hearing aid battery that was designed to be manufactured and sold at a fraction of traditional costs. On top of that, the battery lasts for a significant amount of time longer than traditional hearing aid batteries (2-3 years as opposed to about one week). The idea behind this was to provide more low-income countries a more affordable opportunity to use hearing aids. The company also distributes full hearing aids with the Solar Ear battery at a much lower cost. So many people have difficulty accessing hearing aids because of the high cost. Hopefully this will lend its hand to becoming a much more effective way to sell and use hearing aids.
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Meghan Auclair on Sunday, April 23, 2017 2:39 PM
I think this is a great company. Especially because of how they are not only making rechargeable batteries for people who can't afford to buy new ones when the old ones die, but also selling hearing aids at a much more reasonable cost. It was crazy to hear about how high the prices on hearing aids are marked up here in the U.S. compared to how much they actually cost to make!

Ivelianisse Morales on Monday, April 24, 2017 10:24 AM
We used the same article! Yes, I saw the solar ear and wow what a great technology, my great aunt hates her hearing aids because she has to change the battery so often and because it is a bit pricey for her as well. I really hope that this become accessible to not just the developing companies but everyone, there is no need for them to be as expensive as they are. This is also a step forward for being green.

Meghan Auclair on Sunday, April 23, 2017 2:33 PM
The MotionSavvy Uni is a device and software that connect to a tablet to act as a translator between deaf and hearing people. It can translate spoken words to written words as well as sign language to spoken words. I think that when people see technology like this they tend to think that it is a perfect solution to all the communication problems that exist between spoken and signed language. But while watching MotionSavvy's video of the hearing children playing outside and the deaf girl being nervous to go hang out with them because of the language barrier, I couldn't help but think that the device looked sort of cumbersome. For meetings and doctors offices devices like this may be helpful, but for a kid like the one in the video it's not practical while riding bikes or playing basketball as it can be seen she wishes to do with the other kids. On the other hand someone else mentioned in the article said she was concerned about how it only took hand motions into account, but not body or face movements. Although the article does say that they are still improving the technology and wish to make it available for smart phones as an app which would make it more practical for everyday use, and that they also hoped to improve it so that it could track more than just hand movements.
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Dalimar Romero on Sunday, April 23, 2017 11:42 PM
I agree. It's practical for some situations but not others. I felt sad that the little girl felt scared to engage with the other kids. This technology is not practical for situationsome like these. And what's more interesting is that everyone who knows or is learning sign language knows that facial expressions are grammatical. They are an essentialol part of the language itself. I don't hope that the technology improves. It does have potential. But I wish that schools would offer sing language as a language courses so more people would learn and the barrier between hearing and deaf slowly decrease.

Cassidy Richter on Sunday, April 23, 2017 8:26 PM
It really continues to amaze me on how far we have far we have come for technology. Now I am a bit biased when is comes to technology, I do not like it and I feel like we'd all be better off without it but when it comes to technology such as this I become all dumbfounded and amazed. I found an article on this new device that has been created at Colorado State University that allows people who are deaf or hard of hearing to hear with their tongues! The idea of this device is to "convert different patterns of vibrations that can be felt on the tongue and helps interpret sensations into sounds or words" this device is going to be made to resemble a mouth retainer that when a user presses there tongue against it, tiny electrodes then send patterns of impulses on the tongue and send signals to the brain. It is said in the article that it would take weeks or a couple months of training but eventually your brain will be able to recognize the tingles as sound. I just find this invention really neat. Who knew your tongue could do other things besides taste?
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Dalimar Romero on Sunday, April 23, 2017 11:32 PM
Wow. Kind of weird though too. It really is amazing how technology has grown in power. I think that as long as the person wants it, then power to that person for trying something completely new out. But I stand in my views that not every Deaf person needs or wants to be fixed. So let's hope that no one gets these things without concent.

Dalimar on Sunday, April 23, 2017 11:26 PM
I don't have much to say. The article I read was written by a lower case d person. That person agrees with the new technology that is being processed: an internal cochlear implant. It would be charged wirelessly and in a matter of minutes. It is a "cure" for those who belive that being deaf is a disability that can be fixed. I'm all for it if the person themselves want the device. But I don't agree with the extremes. Read about it and make your own opinion.
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Ivelianisse Morales on Monday, April 24, 2017 10:18 AM
Well, at least they got the title right, that does threaten deaf identity. I feel sad, "At 11 years old, I got my cochlear implant. Now, I am a member of the everyday hearing world, living in New York, and about to graduate from Pace University", that just breaks my heart. I mean sure it's a great step forward I have friends that are embarrassed of their CI's but to remove yourself from a community that is as loving as this one, I don't know.

Ivelianisse Morales on Monday, April 24, 2017 9:53 AM
I want to start off by saying that I don't like how this article refers to deafness. I loved the first technology that is mentioned MotionSavvy. A lot of my deaf friends use tablets when communicating with hearing people especially when going out to eat, this is basically that but they would sign into it and it speaks what they signed and then the other person speaks and what they say is written out and that way there can be a fluid conversation. The article mentions that the camera learns how the person signs and the person can add in custom signs as well. it was made and thought up by deaf students so I feel they would know if it was practical and it seems to me it is. MotionSavvy website:
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Mahoro Shimiro on Friday, June 30, 2017 8:20 PM
The article I read provided an interesting history of an important piece of technology for the deaf world. Before 1964, deaf people in the US were excluded from many American traditions revolving around media and television culture. Not only that, but their means to employment and daily communication were limited because of telephone’s speech dependent programming. In 1964, though, Robert Weitbrecht, a deaf scientist, invented a tool that could convert sound waves into text. This invention developed into what we now know as a teletypewriter. A deaf person could now freely communicate to anyone else who had a TTY. They mobilized the deaf, and loosened the divide on the hearing and deaf. According to the article, “Not only did the promise of the TTY spark action by the Deaf community, it also made organizing subsequent political actions easier, as community members could quickly reach each other and share information”. Because of this device, the deaf community was strengthened and made more independent and able to keep up with society. In conclusion, this particular access to more communication for the deaf emphasizes how technology can improve lives.
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Nga Le on Friday, June 30, 2017 9:48 PM
It's sad to think about how much worse the Deaf community would have been isolated from society in the 1900s before our technological and ethical/cultural advancements. But it's also not too surprising that the first technology that aided the Deaf was by a Deaf scientist, as I feel that people are only aware of things if they, themselves, experience it. I'm really glad that ever since the TTY, only upgrades have occurred and helped out the Deaf community.

Amanda Clark-Martin on Friday, June 30, 2017 10:43 PM
Thank you Mahoro for posting this historical piece! This is really a clear example of how access to tools can make a huge difference in the ability for organized change to take place. This is a topic that I have read about regarding social media permitting people in areas like Egypt to organize and bring about political change. It is still a little shocking for me to think of the many challenges and struggles the Deaf community has had in recent history when it comes to being able to lead their own community. I am also really impressed at the sophistication of the technology for 1964. Cheers to the brilliance of Robert Weitbrecht! Just goes to show, there are many ways to change the world.

Nga Le on Friday, June 30, 2017 9:33 PM
The article I read was on a device called the MotionSavvy where it speaks about how this device once completed could be a revolutionizing advancement for the Deaf community. MotionSavvy is a iPad-shaped device that could serve as an intermediary. The device interprets what is being signed and voices it to people that are able to hear while also listening for what is being spoken and displays it as text for the Deaf. A lot of the Deaf community's problems were highlighted in the article such as banks not allowing a Deaf individual to do much over the phone with a third party/interpreter due to privacy concerns, and how the Deaf are often placed in jobs where they don't have to speak much which are low-wage paying jobs. The device could be a replacement for having to hire an interpreter which could be as much as $50 an hour or more. MotionSavvy has a built in "sign builder" where it is constantly building and learning its knowledge of sign language so it could be more efficient in interpreting what is being signed. This technology could break communication barriers between the hearing and the Deaf community which could allow the establishment of a closer connections and hopefully diminish the inequality of how being Deaf could hinder you from getting a job that you're perfectly capable of.
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Amanda Clark-Martin on Friday, June 30, 2017 10:31 PM
Thanks Nga! I also read about this device, but it was an overview and not as in depth. Your summary raised some very good points I had not thought about such as privacy at banking institutions. This is an amazing advance and could prove helpful in many situations. I am miffed at the idea that deaf are frequently placed in low paying positions because a costly interpreter would be necessary, especially with so many solutions now available. As valuable as this technology may be, I don't believe this will take all interpreting positions away anytime soon. A bank transaction might be okay, but I would still want an interpreter in any major legal or law enforcement dealings.

Mahoro Shimiro on Friday, June 30, 2017 9:37 PM
This is a reply to Nga Le. I think that's so unique, a technological intermediary. That device has the same concept in mind as the one found in my article, but it definitely takes on a more modern and portable use than the TTY. Good job.
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Mahoro Shimiro on Friday, June 30, 2017 9:39 PM
This is just an addition to my original post. the link to my article is
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Amanda Clark-Martin on Friday, June 30, 2017 10:21 PM
Article: 4 Game Changing Technologies for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing featured in Forbes magazine This article features four different and new, up and coming technologies designed with the Deaf community in mind. The article outlines some statistics for a worldwide Deaf population; 360 million total including 32 million children and one third of people over the age of 65. There are a variety of causes for this, but can have an impact on a person’s ability to communicate with others especially in children where spoken language development is often delayed. Due to challenges accessing resources and or communicating can lead to loneliness, frustration, and feelings of isolation especially in older populations. Technology hopes to amend this gap and positively improve quality of life for these people. Here are 4 Technologies on their way to improving: 1) MotionSavvy- UNI is a tablet shaped device that utilizes a camera, microphone, speaker, and software to translate ASL into an audible language and verbalized English into on screen text. While audio voice technology is not new, (think of Siri for the I Phone) the sophisticated technology that tracks hand movements via the camera is. 2) Solar Ear: Hearing aids in the U.S. on average cost between $2,000-$6,000 and current production meets less than 10% of the global need. In many countries with average salaries between middle to low income, this technology just isn’t an option. Solar Ear has found a way to make and sell a hearing aid for under $100 and still reap a profit. It has also found a solution to the constant replacement of hear aid batteries averaging $1 a week. Their solution is a solar charged battery that lasts 2-3 years and requires no energy infrastructure to work. 3) ISEEWHATYOUSAY: Is primarily designed for people who used to hear, but no longer can such as the elderly. Their speaking is still intact. It is a small USB sized device worn by the user featuring a small digital screen that messages appear on. If a person wants to communicate with the user, they simply speak into their cell phone and the message is transmitted to the user’s device via Bluetooth technology. The user is notified and can reply to the other person verbally. 4) Hayleigh's Cherished Charms: Hayleigh, a 10-year-old girl, noticed that the kids at her school for the deaf and hard of hearing often hid their hearing aids behind their hair. Hayleigh wanted to show how proud she was of her hearing aids and make them shine! In response, she began designing and making hearing aid bling. She now sells a variety of charms and other types of jewelry accents meant to shine and sparkle with the hearing aids. This article was enlightening in many ways. It gave some real global numbers and percentages, not only on population size but also age groups. Because of my experience working with elderly people, I already knew that quite a few people ended up losing their hearing but I did not know it constituted more than thirty percent of the older population. The other eye-opening figure was the cost of a hearing aid and what is required to maintain one in the way of a battery. There is now way someone operating on a low to poverty level income could possibly afford the initial purchase let alone the once a week upkeep. Not to mention traditional batteries require proper disposal so as not to be damaging to the local environment. I am pleased to hear there are entrepreneurs that are trying to come up with affordable solutions and are not inflating the price of a medical device that in some places may make a huge difference in their life. What I got from reading about all the technology was the different perspectives. I thought it was neat that the UNI device read sign language instead of someone speaking ASL having to write down all communication because conversing through signing is such a different experience with so much energy! I was pleased that the Solar Ear was looking out for people that may not have the luxury of other technologies or resources available to them like someone in the U.S. would. It made me think that perhaps a hearing aid is more of a necessity in some places where people might have the option or luxury of not choosing to wear one in a place with more advantages. The ISEEWHATYOUSAY device was an insight into the options and challenges an elderly person who was hearing for many years becomes deaf. It was nice to see from this example that they are encouraged to continue using their voice. I imagine this is a comfort to them and many surrounding family and friends. Finally, I really appreciated seeing the perspective of a very young person who is unabashedly proud and celebratory of who she and her community is. I appreciate Hayleigh’s spunk, confidence, and creativity! It's interesting to watch perspectives diverge, grow, and evolve over time. Link: Works Cited: Szczerba, Robert J. "4 Game-Changing Technologies For The Deaf And Hard Of Hearing." Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 21 Apr. 2015. Web. 30 June 2017.
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Mahoro Shimiro on Friday, June 30, 2017 11:06 PM
Response to Amanda: great use of 4 different technologies. Those price statistics astonished me. The fact that the price of accessible communication can be so high sadly speaks to the values of some companies who create purely for profits. I also think it is great that some entrepreneurs are taking charge in making hearing aids and devices affordable and realistic tools for those who need them. Good job reporting this!
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fs on Friday, December 14, 2018 5:57 AM
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