Two free mobile apps to help deaf people

SADeaf senior manager Wong Ai Ling uses the Hearing Aide mobile app, which displays a visual phone message when a fire alarm sounds. Up to 15 alerts can be stored for sounds that require attention.
PHOTO: Two free mobile apps to help deaf people

SINGAPORE - Two free mobile applications that help deaf people "hear" were launched here yesterday.

Aimed at improving their safety and convenience, the apps are believed to be the first of their kind in the world.

Hearing Aide alerts deaf people to sounds which require their attention, such as fire alarms, door bells or thunder.

These sounds are recorded so that when they occur, they are detected by the app, which then causes the phone to vibrate, a light to flash and a visual message to appear on the screen.

Up to 15 alerts can be stored.

Say It With Signs "translates" audio messages during a phone call into videos of hand signs on the mobile phone.

It can be useful in situations when it may be difficult for the caller to type text messages, such as while driving.

It can translate about 500 words into hand signs and if a sign is not available, it converts it into text.

Currently, there are similar apps which teach users sign language but they do not convert spoken words into hand signs during phone calls.

Both apps were developed by advertising agency Grey Group Singapore, at a cost of $10,000, in collaboration with the Singapore Association for the Deaf (SADeaf).

SADeaf senior manager Wong Ai Ling currently relies on seeing her dog bark to alert her to such sounds but she plans to use Hearing Aide to tell her when her kettle is whistling and while doing laundry.

"When it rains, I can't hear the thunder and I don't manage to close the windows or take in the laundry in time," the 50-year-old said, through an interpreter.

SADeaf said there are about half a million people here who are deaf or hearing-impaired.

To help avoid traffic accidents, SADeaf hopes that Hearing Aide will alert deaf drivers to other drivers sounding their horns.

"These applications are breakthroughs for the deaf community," said its president Christopher Low. "Our clients will be looking forward to having the apps installed on their phones."

The apps are available for free at the Google Play app store for Android devices from Friday and are expected to be available for Apple devices within a month.

About the apps

Hearing Aide alerts users to sounds which require their attention, such as fire alarms, door bells or thunder.

Say It With Signs "translates" audio messages during a phone call into videos of hand signs on the mobile phone.

goyshiyi@sph.com.sg

This article was published on April 23 in The Straits Times.Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.