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Google Accessibility Apps for People with Hearing Loss

CHC Partners with Google Accessibility Team

At the

Center for Hearing and Communication, we embrace a vision of communication without limits for all people with hearing loss. Since technology is central to the expansion of communication access, we are dedicated to keeping you informed of any and all tech innovations we think can help you hear and stay connected to the world around you.

Toward that end, we’re excited to announce our partnership with the Google Accessibility team. Google continues to be a leader in the accessibility space with a number of products and services helping people with hearing loss overcome barriers to communication. We will be working in the coming year with Google to provide product and feature updates directly to all of you, the CHC community.

To begin, we’d like to highlight Google Live Transcribe, Sound Amplifier and the recently released Sound Notifications. If you’re an Android user, you’ll find information and videos below to get you up to speed on each of these apps. These Google apps can’t be used on the iPhone, so iPhone users will want to check out the list of resources at the end of this post with accessibility products compatible with the iPhone.

Google Live Transcribe

Available on 1.8 billion Android devices, Live Transcribe helps people who are deaf or hard of hearing be part of everyday conversations by providing real-time, real-world transcriptions. Available in over 70 languages and dialects, it also enables two-way conversation via a type-back keyboard for users who choose to or are unable to speak, and connects to external microphones to improve transcription accuracy.

Live Transcribe can also show you sound events in addition to transcribing speech. You can see, for example, when a dog is barking or when someone is knocking on your door. Seeing sound events allows you to be more immersed in the non-conversation realm of audio and helps you understand what is happening in the world. This is important to those who may not be able to hear non-speech audio cues such as clapping, laughter, music, applause, or the sound of a speeding vehicle whizzing by.

An Android phone displays real-time captioning via Live Transcribe

See sound events, like whistling or a dog barking, in the bottom left corner of the updated Live Transcribe.

Today, you can copy and save transcripts, stored locally on your device for three days. This is useful not only for those with deafness or hearing loss—it also helps those who might be using real-time transcriptions in other ways, such as those learning a language for the first time or even, secondarily, journalists capturing interviews or students taking lecture notes. Google has also made the audio visualization indicator bigger, so that users can more easily see the background audio around them.

To use Live Transcribe, enable it in Accessibility settings, then start Live Transcribe from the accessibility button on the navigation bar. Should you need to download the Google Live Transcribe app, visit the Google Play Store.

Sound Amplifier 

With Sound Amplifier, audio is clearer and easier to hear. You can use Sound Amplifier on your Android phone 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 customize sound enhancement settings and apply noise reduction to minimize distracting background noise with simple sliders and toggles. Available on the Play Store, Android 9 Pie or later phones and comes pre-installed on Pixel 3+.

Google's Sound Amplifier app

To turn on Sound Amplifier, open Android Accessibility settings and select “Sound Amplifier Settings.”

Introducing Sound Notifications

This month, Google introduced a new feature, Sound Notifications, which makes important sounds more accessible. When you turn it on, it will detect noises like appliances beeping, water running, and dogs barking and alert you by flashing the light on your phone, buzzing your phone, and sending you a text notification. It also works with other devices, including Wear OS by Google smartwatches, and can send text notifications with vibrations on your wrist when important noises are detected. The feature works completely offline and recognizes 10 different noises.

To start using Sound Notifications, go into Settings, then the Accessibility menu and enable Sound Notifications. If you don’t see this option on your phone, you can download both Live Transcribe and Sound Notifications from Google Play, then go to your settings and turn on Sound Notifications. To learn more about using Sound Notifications, visit the help center.

Sound Notifications screen on Android phone

Use Timeline view to scroll through a snapshot of detected sounds from the past few hours.

Watch and Learn More

Become a Google Accessibility Trusted Tester

Google’s Accessibility Trusted Tester program is one way they gather feedback about Google products. Testers try new Google products before the general public, then provide feedback directly to Google engineering teams.

The Accessibility Trusted Tester program is available in the United States and Canada. If you’re passionate about providing feedback and improving accessibility, learn more and apply for the Accessibility Trusted Tester program.

Google Accessibility Resources

Related Resources for iPhone Users

If you’re an iPhone user, check out these additional resources highlighting accessibility features offered by Microsoft, Ava, Otter and Apple.

We hope the tech products highlighted here will empower you to stay connected to family and friends and be safe when you’re in your home and on the go. As a partner to Google’s Accessibility team, we will reach out in the coming months to share more news about Google products and services that further our vision of communication without limits for all people with hearing loss.

Be well, everyone!

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