Hearing loss is more widespread than most of us may realize. Did you know that more than 10 million Americans have some degree of hearing loss? In addition, more than half of those with hearing loss are over the age of 65, and less than 4% under the age of 18. Sometimes, trying to navigate the difficulties that come with hearing loss can be very frustrating, and often isolating. Fortunately, advances in technology are making it possible for those at risk of hearing loss, as well as the partially hard-of-hearing and deaf, to more easily navigate the world around them. If you fall into one of these categories, here are 13 apps that will help you communicate and enjoy life to its maximum.
Notification and Alarm Apps
#1: Braci Sound Alert
Description (brief): Braci is a sound recognition system that recognizes and identifies environmental sounds, converting them into visual and sensory notifications/alerts.
Description (full): Braci has created two main applications: Sound Alert and Snore Detector. Sound Alert helps you to feel safe and secure wherever you go by sending visual stimuli and vibrations to your smartphone, smartwatch, or other smart devices in response to fire alarms and a wide range of other security, rail, health care, and industrial sounds and alerts. Choose how you want to be notified, whether through a flashing light, a vibration, a slight shake, or through your pebble watch. The Snore Detector picks up on your snoring and sends gentle pulses to your smartwatch, encouraging you to change positions for easier breathing without waking you up.
“Brilliant app. No more cold or burnt dinners because I didn't hear the timers. Smoke detectors now no problem either. Never hear any of them. I would highly recommend this app to anyone in a similar situation.” — John Windebank
Noise Monitoring and Exposure Apps
#2: Decibel X
Description (brief): Decibel X is a professional dBA noise meter app that measures sound pressure levels from your environment, helping you understand when noise levels around you are too high and protecting you from further hearing loss.
Description (full): Decibel X is a trusted and reliable app that turns your phone into a professional noise meter that can precisely measure SPLs in any environment — anywhere from a rock concert to a library. It not only keeps you from exposing yourself to damaging SPLs — it’s also fun to use! The app features frequency weighting filters, a spectrum analyzer yielding visual bar graph data, and data tracking/management. You don’t have to be a professional to be able to use it, either; it has been beautifully designed to be intuitive and user friendly.
“Having a decimal meter on your phone is so important in today’s very loud world if you want to protect your hearing. With this app, you can check your environment instantly and know whether you should protect yourself with earplugs or remove yourself entirely. It’s excellent and I highly recommend it.” — Anonymous
#3: Sound Amplifier
Description (brief): Sound Amplifier is an Android-only accessibility app that maximizes conversations and important sounds around you while minimizing background noise.
Description (full): There’s nothing quite as isolating as being around friends and family and not being able to engage in the conversation due to the noisy environment. Sound Amplifier allows you to amplify the important sounds around you by filtering out background noise at home, in restaurants, and anywhere else you might struggle to hear. Simply connect your headphones to your phone, pull up the Sound Amplifier app, and select the frequencies. You’ll instantly be able to hear better without disturbing anybody else around you.
“Amazing, love it! You can hear the tiniest sounds. I am in my room, but I can hear a movie playing through my earphones that’s playing in the living room!” — Lorenzo September
Hearing Apps for Leisure
#4: Subtitles Viewer! (Sub)
Description (brief): Subtitles Viewer! is an iOS app that syncs up with your TV or movie theater screen to enhance your entertainment experience, allowing you to get subtitles in your own language for any popular movie or TV show you want to watch.
Description (full): An inability to hear your movie interferes with your overall enjoyment, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Subtitles Viewer! can connect to your smart TV and allow you to get high-quality subtitles in more than a hundred languages. The app has a sleek and simple interface with intuitive navigation and is able to find your movie in minimal time from the app’s extensive database. Don’t see what you need? Add your own subtitles to the database to help out the rest of the deaf and hearing-impaired community!
“This is a very innovative concept… I can't tell you how much this app is useful for me. It has a very comprehensive library of subtitles that has subs for almost all the popular TV shows and movies. The search feature works pretty well too.” — Anonymous
Description (brief): Tunity allows patrons of public facilities to get audio from muted televisions and enjoy a crystal-clear sound even in the busiest places, such as gyms, restaurants, doctor’s offices, and more.
Description (full): If you’ve ever gone to a local bar to watch sporting events as a hard-of-hearing individual, you know how frustrating it can be to miss all the commentary over the background noise. Cue Tunity. This app lets you scan a live video screen and sync up to the channel’s audio, and you’re then able to live stream directly to your device and hear what’s going on in real-time. Use it via headphones or a speaker and never miss out on the excitement! It works in waiting rooms, gyms, universities, airports, and anywhere else you may want the sound to the muted TV mounted on the wall.
“For years I’ve had the problem of not being able to hear the TVs at bars. I’ve asked the bartenders to turn the volume on a TV and they always said no. What’s the point in having the TVs on then? Because of Tunity, now people can actually know what’s going on on the TV.” — Anonymous
Description (brief): Does hearing loss make it hard to understand the lyrics of the music you love? Shazam will instantly listen to any song playing, pull it up, display the lyrics, and open the song in Apple Music so you never miss out on the joy of music!
Description (full): Want to jam out to your favorite songs but have a hard time making out the lyrics? Well, now you can whip out your phone and let Shazam help you out. The app can identify nearly any song in mere seconds, drawing from an enormous database of music. Not only does it show you what song is playing, but it also identifies the full lyrics, keeps a history of all the songs you’ve Shazamed, and gives you the option to download the song on Apple Music. The days of having hearing loss affect your musical enjoyment are over!
“Since day one, Shazam has been that reliable friend. Shazam, you have helped me be mom o’ the year and always know the song. You didn’t stop there either — you went further by letting me sing along! It doesn’t get better than this app. Thanks, Shazam, we are super cool together!” — Anonymous
#7: ASL Dictionary
Description (brief): Do you ever wish your non-ASL-speaking friends could communicate with you better? Encourage them to learn ASL by downloading this user-friendly sign language dictionary.
Description (full): Your friends and family members can pick up lots of ASL quickly using the ASL Dictionary app, which offers 5,200 practical, everyday signs. Look up words you want to learn to sign and have them demonstrated for you! The app doesn’t require internet or sound, so it can be used anywhere you want to learn!
“Very easy to use. It has lots of words that are easy to find alphabetically. Because I am deaf on one side and hard of hearing in the other, I am learning ASL. The ASL Dictionary is very useful and I highly recommend it, especially for ASL learners.” — Anonymous
Description (brief): Struggling to hear the people speaking around you? Ava offers state-of-the-art, mistake-free captioning of in-person conversations using AI.
Description (full): With Ava, you’ll never have a hard time keeping up with face-to-face conversations again. This app offers 95% accurate captions of fast-paced interactions at work or in public and can be used anywhere from classrooms to churches to doctor’s offices to business meetings! Ava utilizes your microphone to show you what someone said to you word-for-word, and it’s always available to you in your pocket. The app can also be configured to other situations when you explore your options in the “discover” menu.
“I have a miserable time when it comes to having a general conversation with anyone, but with Ava, it's different. Ava makes it possible... it really knows what's being said, it records everything, and it lets you participate once again in the real world!” — Ivan Harris
Cost: No cost
Description (brief): CaptionCall makes it possible for eligible people to conduct phone calls without letting hearing loss impede the communication. The app captions phone calls directly on your iPhone or iPad, so you’ll understand every word spoken to you.
Description (full): Phone calls are one of the most efficient means of communication out there — unless you suffer from any degree of hearing loss. Fortunately, CaptionCall brings the ease and efficiency back to traditional telephone calls by transcribing call captions for you to read, helping those who are eligible to communicate more easily with the individual on the other end of the line, including emergency response services. You can even customize your captions, choosing from English or Spanish, caption font size, and more.
“I have struggled with phones for so long due to a tone loss until I just quit using phones. This is a GODSEND. It has freed me to be able to handle so many situations that insist on PHONES ONLY! Even if I go there in person. Thank you very much.” — Anonymous
Cost: No Cost
Description (brief): Wavello from Sorenson is a Video Relay Service (VRS) app that lets you video conference and see the deaf person, hearing person, and an interpreter.
Description (full): Be Seen! Revolutionize your relay conversations! With Sorenson Wavello, everyone sees each other during video relay calls. Sorenson continues to innovate so you can experience communication in a new way. To get started, simply download the Sorenson Wavello app and register your voice phone number today. Come on, Be Seen by your Deaf family and friends through Sorenson Relay.
“Love the app. [I] have not seen my son in years, now I see him every day. This has been the best app invented for the deaf..” - Sandra R.
Hearing Management and Relief
#11: Mimi Hearing Test
Description (brief): If you’ve ever wanted to analyze your hearing ability, this app gives you that chance. Find out if you have any hearing loss and see how it changes over time.
Description (full): Hearing tests are designed to give you an idea of where you are on the hearing loss spectrum and to help you take preventative measures to prevent any further hearing loss. This app was designed to yield results in as few as six minutes using a range of frequencies that will better help you understand and track your hearing health. It’s compatible with the health app, and the data can be exported and shared with friends, family, and your healthcare provider.
“I’ve been having some problems hearing, so out of pure curiosity, I decided to see if there's an app out there that could tell me anything. After going through the test, it showed a mild hearing loss. I ended up getting referred to an audiologist and her results were identical. Handy app to track your hearing. Job well done!” — Anonymous
#12: Hearing Aid — Sound Amplifier
Cost: Free with in-app purchases
Description (brief): The Hearing Aid app has the potential to turn your iPhone into a hearing aid, offering amplification of sounds at three different levels. Choose your volume and listen to the world around you at a comfortable and clear volume.
Description (full): The Hearing Aid app is an advanced sound amplification app that adjusts noises around you to be audible at a safe volume. It features preventative hearing protection, a 12-band audio equalizer for hearing aids, six listening scenario presets based on your level of hearing loss, and can be synced up with Bluetooth as well. The app reduces noise around you to make important sounds purer and can even run in the background while you play music or games. If your hearing loss differs in both ears, the app also features individual hearing adjustment so your hearing feels balanced.
“I have severe hearing loss, and this app is a great affordable solution for me. I use an iPhone and connect either headphones or Bluetooth earbuds. When a call comes in, the phone switches from the app to the call. I love the app.” — Anonymous
#13: Starkey Relax
Description (brief): Tinnitus is one of the more unpleasant side-effects of auditory malfunction. Starkey Relax was designed to help you manage your symptoms through sound therapy.
Description (full): Did you know that one of the most effective ways to manage tinnitus is through relaxation? Starkey Relax offers 12 different tinnitus relief sounds that can be adjusted to a comfortable volume for custom relaxation that alleviates the irritating side-effects of your individual case of tinnitus, which may include buzzing, ringing, or clicking. Use Starkey Relax on your smartphone or Bluetooth speaker or headphones.
“My tinnitus has three different sounds. One sounds like the whine of an ancient tube TV starting up, the second sounds like all the crickets around a farm pond on a hot summer night, and the third sounds like a bird sanctuary — all turned up to about five. Happy to say this really helped me get to sleep.” — Sam Boney