Communicating using Translating services

Hello Everyone

Action on Hearing Loss is continuously looking to improve access to services for people with hearing Loss. With the growth of internet services and apps in particular, communication has changed vastly. Some of these apps have been beneficial for people with hearing loss however some apps are designed without any consideration towards the hard of hearing population.
We would therefore like to find out what apps people are using, which apps have been helpful and which apps need improvement. Currently we are focusing on apps which help people with hearing loss and deafness and below are some apps we consider the most useful. We would appreciate feedback on ways any of these apps can be improved as well as information on apps people are using that may help others that have not been identified below.

Communicating using Translating services
Translating services are a great way of communicating between different language users. However it is important to remember that they are not always 100% accurate. The accuracy is greatly dependant on the quality of the input signal and the internet connection. So if you are using speech as an input signal to translate into text, you need to try having a clear speech signal with no or very little background noise. Personal or business Wi-Fi connections tend to provide a better signal than public Wi-Fi and 3G connections. These apps can help you when attending social events, appointments, when abroad on holiday and also at work. Most translating apps are designed to translate speech or text into different languages and very few translate spoken English into English text. It is important to find out about this depending on what you are using the app for before purchasing if there is a charge for the app.

  • BT NGT Lite: NGT Lite is the Next Generation Text Service – an update version of BT’s text relay phone service. As an app, you can now use the internet to translate information instead of dialling an access number. On your smart phone, tablet and computer you can type your message and have it translated into speech and vice versa. Currently translation to and from text and speech is only in English. You can read the display while on the phone call to assist your conversation. The app is available free of charge on Android and iOS.

  • Dragon Dictation: This dictation app translates speech into text in 31 different languages but not between languages. It can be used to send emails and texts as well as send updates on Twitter and Facebook. Currently translated files can’t be saved as a document directly but they can be copied and pasted once translated into text. It is currently free and available on Android, Blackberry, iOS and Windows.

  • Interpreter Now Ltd: this is a BSL interpreting service for communicating between BSL and no-BSL users. Through video relay, a BSL user can sign their message and the interpreter will translate this message into speech for the non-BSL user and vice versa. This can be downloaded free of charge on computers and on smart phones and tablets compatible with Android, iOS and Windows. The actual call will be charged based on your service provider however it can be available free of charge through some participating organisations.

  • Google Translate: This app allows the user to translate speech or text into different languages as text. Currently there are 90 languages available on the app but not BSL. You can also use pictures of texts to translate into a chosen language but the picture quality needs to be good in order to obtain accurate translations. Translations can only be done when connected to the internet; however, you can save previously converted speech and text to use offline. This app is currently free and available on Android, iOS and Windows.
  • Eye Sign: Eye sign translates English speech or text into BSL. If using speech as an input, it will first be translated into text and then BSL. This app is still in early stages and uses a lot of finger spelling but there are also BSL phrases included in the app. You can also keep a record of conversation made on the app as a record.