App fixes problems with hearing-impaired masks

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A new transcription app aims to make life easier for the hearing impaired with masks.

Developed by the research division of Hearing Australia, NALscribe is designed to continuously transcribe speech in real time into large, easy-to-read iPad text.

The service has also been made available free of charge to health clinics, organizations, and people with hearing loss who have difficulty understanding speech around the world.

The app has already been tested in hearing aids across Australia and at service counters, with positive feedback so far.

Australian client Michelle Farina recently used NALscribe on an appointment and says she is excited about the technology on offer.

“I found the live subtitles … very useful,” she said. “All the words that I missed were recorded on the tablet.”

In contrast, on a recent hospital visit by the 59-year-old, staff were unable to remove the masks and there was no similar option.

“As a result, they had to meticulously write down all the questions they had to ask me,” she said.

“It is a very useful tool for overcoming communication barriers for people with hearing impairments.”

Although the app is designed with the hearing care professional in mind, manufacturers hope it could prove useful in other companies that care for people with hearing loss, such as: B. medical centers and elderly care facilities.

Hearing Australia audiologist Emma Church has used the app on several clients and says it made conversations during appointments a lot easier, especially for those who don’t already have hearing aids.

“The app made them feel safe by being able to confirm what they thought they had heard, and it reduced misunderstandings,” she said.

“The subtitles improved the flow of the conversation and as a result the entire appointment experience was better for the customers.”

Features of the app include customizable text size and privacy options, choice of 11 languages, offline speech recognition mode, and guidelines to improve usability for the elderly and people with disabilities.

Transcriptions can also be saved, edited and easily shared on other platforms.

The director of the National Acoustic Laboratories, Dr. Brent Edwards, says NALscribe is the latest in a line of practical innovations.

“Our research over the past two years has identified the unique problems people with hearing loss face during the pandemic, and our innovation program continues to develop solutions,” he said.


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