“Mach is a fantastic example of what can happen when young people have access to technology, are able to develop their skills, and are free to create the things they wish to see in the world.”
These are the words of Upworthy.com contributor Melinda Clark, describing 17-year-old Mateusz Mach. At first glance, I, like many, thought he was your average high school student who likes to tinker with ideas. Ideas and passion are what drives mankind to move mountains after all, right?
That observation would be correct–but when Mach decided to put one of his “simple and fun” ideas into action, he coincidentally revolutionized the way deaf people around the world communicate and interact with each other.
He created a smartphone app called Five, which allows deaf individuals to send and receive simple pictures of hand gestures–just as if they were using sign language in real time. He started receiving random text messages from members of the deaf community who used the app. They began thanking him for creating something that allowed them to communicate with one another freely, and in their own unique language. In May 2015, the app officially launched and has since been called “the world’s first messaging app for deaf people”–a title and accolade that Mach never saw coming.
Uber is making changes to its driver-side app to provide better functionality for deaf and hard of hearing driver partners.
For years now, Uber’s driver-side app has used audio alerts to notify the driver when a passenger is waiting to be picked up. This put Uber’s deaf and hard of hearing drivers in the position of having to text their intended passenger to let them know that all communication would need to be text-based.
Today, however, the company is rolling out an update to the app that uses a visual alert (flashing lights) to notify drivers of the waiting passenger. The feature is opt-in, so hearing drivers can stick with the audio alert if they prefer.
The update also changes some of the functionality for passengers being picked up by deaf or hard-of-hearing drivers, removing the option to call your driver and prompting the user to input their final destination before the car arrives.
HealthyHearing Contributed by Lisa Packer, staff writer April 13, 2015
With the growing popularity of smartphone apps, the newest way to measure sound level might be in your back pocket or purse. The latest statistics show that 71 percent of all people over the age of 18 own a smartphone; that means 171 million people have access to millions of apps. And with so many apps to choose from, it makes sense there would be one to measure noise levels. These apps aren’t just for fun; they are being used increasingly to measure occupational noise levels or noise in the workplace.
Hearing loss as a result of harmful noise in the workplace is a significant issue. More than 22 million workers in the U.S. are exposed to dangerous noise levels each year and there are over 20,000 cases of occupational noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) reported each year alone. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) guidelines for occupational noise exposure, recommended noise levels should be controlled at or below 85 decibels (dB) for eight hours. Many in noisy occupations are turning to sound level meter apps, or SLMs, for noise level information.
WASHINGTON (NewsChannel 8) – Getting around is about to get a little easier for people in the D.C. area who are visually impaired.
On Friday, Metro unveiled a new smartphone app and website designed to help passengers navigate through Metrorail stations.
The ClickAndGo app not only gives you turn-by-turn directions, it will warn you about a cement barrier or escalator nearby. The District is the first city putting it to the test.
Navigating D.C.'s Metro system is daunting for the average person, but for Olivia Norman it can be downright dangerous.
"They have multiple lines, multiple places you can potentially transfer," Norman said, clutching the leash of her service dog.
That's where Joe Cioffi, a teacher for the visually and hearing impaired, came up with the idea.
"There's a lot of anxiety for someone who's without vision on a rush hour center platform," he explained.
The ClickAndGo app maps out your physical surroundings, including hazards, and will even tell you how many steps you are from your destination.
The CEO of Columbia Lighthouse for the Blind says the demand for this kind of app is growing.
"We have 158 million baby boomers. And as we're aging, vision is one of the leading things that we have to be concerned about," said Tony Cancelosi.
Right now the app is only available for the Gallery Place Chinatown station, which includes a total of 100 different routes. But the goal is to expand it to all Metro stops in the near future.
Norman and her dog, Nora, have been testing the new app since August.
"It's amazing how it's gonna change everything! It's a game changer," she said.
Metro is offering this app to anyone for free, but it isn't available on iTunes just yet. Metro is waiting for the registration to be approved. But in the meantime, you can check out the ClickAndGo website.
SAN FRANCISCO — Advocates for the blind are debating whether to use a carrot or a stick to persuade one of their oldest allies, Apple Inc, to close an emerging digital divide in mobile technology.
As digital life increasingly moves to the world of smartphones and tablets, some disabled people with visual, hearing and other impairments are feeling more left out than ever.
As baby boomers retire and age, the number of people needing help is multiplying. Many advocates for the disabled believe federal law requires that apps be accessible, but courts have not ruled on the issue. Few disabled want to risk alienating Apple, considered a friend, by fighting it.
Mobile apps that work well can transform a blind person’s life, reading email on the go or speaking directions to a new restaurant. Some young blind people no longer feel the need to learn Braille to read with their fingers, when Siri and other computer voices can do the reading instead. Captions on videos and special hearing aids bring hearing impaired into the digital fold.
But when apps don’t work, life can grind to a stop. Jonathan Lyens, a San Francisco city employee who is legally blind, has a hard time browsing for jobs on professional networking site LinkedIn.
“The app is insane. Buttons aren’t labeled. It’s difficult to navigate,” Lyens said. When it comes to social-media apps, new problems arise with every release, he said. “I get nervous every time I hit the update button.”
Deaf students are finally able to enjoy a planetarium, thanks to a Glass app.
A group at Brigham Young University has turned Google Glass into a device that helps deaf students enjoy a planetarium. The conundrum facing the deaf in the dark is that they can't see an ASL interpreter, and captioning is difficult on a round display and would interrupt the experience for hearing people. To solve this problem, it's wearable computers to the rescue, as they can allow deaf students to view the interpreter without disturbing other viewers.
According to EurekAlert, the project is called "Signglasses," and it gives deaf students a tiny ASL interpreter while watching the planetarium show. The Glass display is visible in the dark and displays a video of the interpreter during the show. The group, which includes two deaf students, hopes to expand the idea beyond the planetarium. "One idea is when you're reading a book and come across a word that you don't understand, you point at it, push a button to take a picture, some software figures out what word you're pointing at and then sends the word to a dictionary and the dictionary sends a video definition back," the professor in charge of the group said. The full results of the group's research will be published in June at the Interaction Design and Children conference.
Updated: Tuesday, May 27 2014, 10:36 AM EDT St. Joseph, Mich. --
Apple has teamed up with doctors in Michigan to make it easier for hearing-impaired people to adjust to loud settings. A new kind of hearing aid syncs with an app on an iPhone or iPad. It allows users to control the volume in each ear so they can hear people in crowded restaurants or other loud settings. Users can also save settings for frequently visited places, with the device automatically adjusting by raising or lowering the volume. It also streams phone calls directly into the hearing aid instead of on the phone. The device costs about $3,000, roughly the same as other high-end hearing aids. The app needs to be purchased in order to be used with an iPhone.
A team of Cal State Northridge computer hotshots licked top universities throughout the region at a software competition last weekend by designing a winning phone app alert system for the deaf.
The CSUN computer science students clinched the "SS12: Code for a Cause" contest in San Diego, thumping teams from USC and UCLA.
With only two weeks to design their software, the team of five students concocted an Android application that can interpret audio disturbances such as sirens, smoke alarms, car horns or even crying children, then translate them into flashing lights,vibrations and texts to those who could not otherwise hear them. The free app is now available at Google Play.