Google is helping the hearing impaired with two new apps. Live Transcribe brings real-time captions to conversations and an innovative Sound Amplifier to filter out unwanted background noises.

Live Transcribe brings Google speech recognition, perfected for OK Google, to an Android smartphone.

It is cloud-based (will require an internet connection) automatic speech recognition that displays on screen spoken words in real-time captions using just the phone’s microphone. Live Transcribe has the potential to give people who are deaf or hard of hearing greater independence in their everyday interactions.

Google

Live Transcribe is available in over 70 languages and dialects. It also enables two-way conversation via a type-back keyboard for users who can’t or don’t want to speak, and connects with external microphones to improve transcription accuracy. 

To use Live Transcribe, enable it in Accessibility Settings, then start Live Transcribe from the accessibility button on the navigation bar. Starting today, Live Transcribe will gradually roll out in a limited beta to users worldwide via the Play Store and pre-installed on Pixel 3 devices. Sign up here to be notified when it is more widely available.

Sound amplifier sound clear to me

Hearing aids are good, but almost all suffer in situations where there’s a lot of background noise – like at a loud cafe or airport lounge. Enter Sound Amplifier.

With Sound Amplifier, the spoken word is clearer and easier to hear. You can use Sound Amplifier on your Android smartphone with wired headphones to filter, augment and amplify the sounds in your environment. It works by increasing quiet sounds, while not over-boosting loud sounds. You can customise sound enhancement settings and apply noise reduction to minimise distracting background noise with simple sliders and toggles. 

Google

Think of it as an equaliser pre-set aimed at voice. Sound Amplifier is available on the Play Store and supports Android 9 Pie and comes pre-installed on Pixel 3.

GadgetGuy’s take: Google is well ahead on accessibility

Google’s accessibility blog is interesting reading. Accessibility is not just about hearing or vision impairment but permanent or temporary physical impairment. Of our 7.6 billion inhabitants over one billion have some form of disability. That is nearly 15% who see, hear or feel things differently.

Google

And then there are school children. Their impairment is to adapt to learning on glass (computers) which is vastly different to the textbook and rote learning approach of yesteryear. If we do not bring that experience up to match old pedagogy, then this generation of kids will be learning impaired. Google is doing a lot in Chrome to address the use of Stylus and glass instead of pen and paper. To be fair so is Microsoft with Windows Ink.

Google helps by providing a range of accessibility tools that improve the user experience for everyone. For instance, closed captions can make videos accessible to more people whether they have a hearing impairment or are sitting in a crowded room. It even has free automated testing tools to make sure your app, website or whatever is accessible.