the ultimate guide to the best deaf apps: image description: smiling asian woman says hi into phone she is holding up

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This is a post about the best deaf apps.

That is, the most useful, popular and widely-used apps by d/Deaf people. This post is US-focused, and covers only iPhone apps.

Best Communication Apps

  1. Glide:  for texting and talking.
  2. P3 Mobile: for texting, talking and relay services. Includes ASL and clear-speech relays.
  3. Google Voice: for transcribing messages (speech to text).
  4. Hamilton CapTel: for captions during the phone conversation
  5. Sorenson Buzzcards: d/Deaf create flashcards for communication with the hearing. Flashcards can be saved.
  6. FaceTime: visual calling

Best In-Person Communication Apps

  1. Speak4Me: text-to-speech
  2. Sorenson Buzzcards: create flashcards to communicate with non-ASL users
  3. Text to Speech!: text-to-speech
  4. iSpeech: text-to-speech
  5. Subtitles Viewer LIVE!: live speech-to-captions (caption real-time, live conversations)
  6. Earfy: live speech-to-captions (caption real-time, live conversations)
  7. Dragon Anywhere: dictation application that can be used by us deaf with hearing – have the hearing person speak and it will automatically caption what they are saying (if it is said clearly enough)

Best Apps for Learning ASL

  1. ASL Dictionary: comprehensive ASL dictionary with videos of more than 5,000 signs
  2. The ASL App: a hip app designed by Deaf ASL users to teach ASL (the one that Nyle is in!)
  3. Signing Savvy: learn ASL and join in conversations and more with the membership site
  4. SignSchool: vocabulary builder, dictionary
  5. YouTube: subscribe to Deaf YouTubers, search for classes. Download them through YouTube Red.
  6. Marlee Signs: learn ASL with Marlee Matlin
  7. ASL Translator: type in the English and get the ASL translation
  8. ASL Dictionary: over 5,000 signs, multiple ways to sign the same word and does not require internet

(note: don’t miss my post on 8 Sites to Learn ASL Online)

Best Alarm or Notification Apps

  1. Alarm Clock with FlashLights: alarm clock with flashing lights (and music)
  2. Alarmed Reminders + Timers: integrates with iPhone native Reminder app
  3. Loud Alarm Clock Best and Loudest Alarms 2: for people who need something REALLY loud (with no hearing neighbors, haha)

AND:  here’s how to set your flash alerts on your phone, which works for phone calls, messages AND your morning alarm clock instead of sound

The Best Deaf Apps

There are many apps for the deaf available, and many more that may not have been created specifically for us but are useful (like Dragon Anywhere).

While that is great, I look forward to more apps being developed, covering a greater range of what would be useful to us (I’m thinking kitchen integrations and home appliance alerts in particular).

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    1. Why is it highly appreciated by the Deaf community users? Can you tell us something more about it? thanks

  1. helen holmes says:

    Why can’t we who don’t sign and have no one to sign with, get text technology on smart phones so we could make and receive phone calls on our own. This goes on in the UK. Why isn’t it available in the US?

  2. Very useful page for a newly-deaf person. Thank you very much. Also, I will NOT be using the Make It Big app.

  3. I think most people who are deaf are those who used to be able to hear but have gone deaf due to age or other factors. So sad you are iphone only. There is a spectacular Android app called Easy Talk Pro that allows 2 Android phones to do speech to text simultaneously. This allows a conversation to happen at normal speed rather than having to pass an iphone back and forth for the deaf person to read. The app does not work on iphone and the developer is not working on one for iphone.

    1. thank you so much for commenting about it, Buck – it’s really going to help someone who has an android!

    2. Marina Delune says:

      I use Live Transcribe, and it’s a game changer, but only available on Android, at least at this point, and requires wi-fi to function. Maybe works with data? Not sure.

      Ios has an app called Transcribe Live, but it has been useless to me because the transcription is very poor.

      I have discovered that using a Bluetooth microphone that is usually used with a phone greatly improves the quality of transcription. Just remember to turn off your phone’s microphone and set the device’s microphone on settings. It picks up speech up to 20 feet away!

      And it’s great in a group. You can put it in the middle of the space, or even better, have people pass it around like a “talking stick,” if they are willing. It’s also tiny, and clips on to a lapel, so I use it in lecture situations and have the speaker clip it on. I also have my pastor use it at church.

      As an aside, the text as I write this response is very dim. I can barely read it as I am composing.

    3. Marina Delune says:

      Live Transcribe is an amazing app, and it’s uncanny how much it acts like the sound processing experience of someone with hearing loss. For instance:

      It uses an enormous amount of data processing. My phone’s battery drains quickly and sometimes my phone actually heats up! Yup. Takes a LOT of energy! It even stops sometimes and I have to restart my phone. I don’t get annoyed with the app, because it has the equivalent of “hearing fatigue” and like me, needs to take a break!

      Yes, it often re-transcribes when it has more understanding of the context.

      When I am using it with a group of people, it takes time to learn how to transcribe each speaker’s voice. Often I’ll find that it doesn’t seem to be working with a new speaker, and then suddenly I’ll get the whole transcription once it has learned the speech patterns, etc.

      My favorite though is that if I accidentally put in English British vs. English American in the language settings menu, it can’t understand at all, just like I can’t understand folks with an accent- even people from the South!

  4. I came here looking for something to help my dad. We’re Android users, though. I’ll take a look at Easy Talk, but Google has an under-development project called Live Transcribe that is very interesting. It reprocesses the text it has interpreted to try to improve the interpretation when it gets more context. You can see it going back and correcting sentences as it processes more words. All it seems to do now is process speech that the phone’s microphone picks up. It doesn’t have any tricks like phone-to-phone communications. On the other hand, it is extremely simple to use. It even seems to be doing a good job of ignoring the TV as background noise. It does require a data connection of some type, though.

    1. thanks for that comment about Live Transcribe. I want to check it out

  5. Being Deaf, I was quite impressed with the list. I lost my ability to hear eight years ago and have not been able to find sign language classes in my area. Nor does anyone in my area know sign language

    Google voice was one of the best apps listed. One of the biggest things that people Deaf and hard of hearing look for when using apps for communication is the speed to open the app, speed to turn on the mic and speed and accuracy of dictation.

    As I said, I was impressed with your list, but many of these apps miss the mark of what a hearing disabled person needs. Dragon Anywhere charges monthly fees to use it and is not better than Apple Note. The company Nuance should be renamed Nucience. My biggest complaint about many of these apps is that they try to feed off people with disabilities by charging them monthly fees which more than anyone wishes to pay.

    Google Voice and Apple Note have always been free and help me more than many on and off your list. I still thank you for the list as I did find something useful that will help me in interviews, classes and meetings

    1. Thank you for commenting, Kelly – I really appreciate your feedback on Google Voice and Apple Note

      And yes, I hear you on the “disability tax” – soooooo frustrating. Ugh.

  6. Similar to Kelly above, I have been deaf since 1988. I have no deaf friends and do not sign. I have an Android cell phone and have just started looking at apps. Want I want to do when making a call on my cell is to speak into the phone normally to the call recipient and have their vocal response show up as text on my screen with no typing involved on either end. (There’s an app for that?)
    Can you recommend a free one?


  7. I lost my hearing in a battery explosion – learning ASL – difficult to find, everyone else is hearing. Finding technology – took me almost 5 years…
    Voice to Text live transcription – Google live transcribe (Androids only) – everyone loves it. & AVA – iphone & android. Monthly fee for me, everyone I invite to chat free to them.

    Learning ASL – I took a class at the Junior college, took over a year to get in. I have since found Dr. Bill Vicars ASL U, after a few weeks starting to move through them. I bought the superdisk for easier access. He does email you back. Gallaudet has on-line ASL classes – they are not cheap. For me all signing class will push me to learn.

    Phone calls – Sprint IP Relay – 3-way call options you talk on your cell, the interpreter sends you texts to your computer. 2 way on your cell or computer – you text, read text – but it can be mobile. My friends hate it. Vendors who refuse service by chat or email- “find someone to call on your behalf” – done. They do not like it, but required under Federal law to communicate this way. Generates a transcript = “proof” of dialogue.

    Resources – most states have a Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. I have found the Kansas Director to be invaluable resource.

  8. All apps are very helpful. It’s very nice content for smartphone users. Thanks and keep sharing.

  9. Arno Smith says:

    Is the Alarm Clock with FlashLights not available for windows 10?

  10. Marina Delune says:

    My favorite apps: Live Transcribe on Android only (see above as response to Buck). It is a speech-to-text app for understanding what people are saying. I’ve tried many similar apps, but Live Transcribe blows them all away.

    And Innocaptions Plus! OMG! It shows you captions practically in live time, and extremely accurately! Much better than Captel landline captioning telephone! I’ve stopped using Captel, because Innocaptions is far superior. Available for Ios or Android. The only drawback is that just the phone number appears when you receive a call, not the caller’s name.

  11. There seem to be plenty of speech to text apps.
    There are also several good video calling apps.
    For the deaf, an app combining both so one could have a video call with a deaf person and that person could read your speech as text would be a great benefit to those needing to convers with the deaf.

  12. Alina Moran says:

    Greetings, I am searcing for an App that will allow deaf clients to participate in Cognitive Skills Training Video Games. Do you have any suggestions?

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