10 Best Video Calling Apps for People with Hearing Loss

Video Chat for Hearing Loss

Trying to have a conversation on the phone can be extremely frustrating sometimes. Does this look like a familiar conversation?

You: “Hi honey, how have you and the kids been?”

Your daughter: “We just got a puppy so the kids are having a lot of fun with him! They named him Cooper.”

You: “Who's Cooper?”

Your daughter: “Our new puppy!”

You: “What?”

Your daughter: “Oh, never mind. We're good.”

(Skip to 1:50 in the video below, has this ever happened to you?)

Look familiar? This may be similar to what you experience on the phone. We all want to be able to enjoy our phone conversations with our family, but this type of conversation breakdown is very common.

Staying connected with friends and loved ones is important, but the phone is no easy solution. Especially for someone with a hearing loss.

One of the biggest reasons why it is so hard to hear on the telephone is because you can't see the person. You lose all those visual cues that you get in face-to-face conversation: mouth movements, body language, facial expressions, and hand gestures.

We rely more on visual information to understand speech than we realize. This is the reason why even people with normal hearing can have difficulty understanding on the phone, especially in background noise.

That is why sometimes we need more help than what the audio enhancements of amplified telephones, hearing aid phone programs, and wireless streaming can give us.

The great thing about technology is that there is an easier way to talk on the phone! Its' called video-calling, and it allows us to be able to not only listen to the conversation, but to see the conversation in front of us on our smartphones, tablets, or even computers.

A recent study in The Hearing Review showed that speech understanding on the phone improved by 23% in participants with severe-to-profound hearing loss when using audio+visual information by using a video-calling app (FaceTime) versus an audio-only phone conversation, even with wireless streaming to their hearing aids.

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To get you started with video-calling we've rounded up some of the most popular video-calling applications for you to choose from.

FaceTime

FaceTime is a video-calling app that is specific for Apple products, including the iPhone and iPad. It is built into the Apple device so it will come ready to go on your device. No download or sign-up needed.

Tango

Tango gained popularity quickly for it's additional features, including picture sharing, personalized messages, and cards while you are enjoying a video-call.

ooVoo

ooVoo is great if you want to video-chat with multiple people at one time. You can connect with up to 12 people at once.

Google Hangouts

Owned by Google, this has become the default program for Android devices. It also works on Windows OR Mac computers. It has text messaging, voice, and video calling available. Just like FaceTime for iPhone, Hangouts comes pre-loaded on any Android device. You can instantly video-chat one-on-one or with up to 10 people at a time.

Skype

Skype has been around for a while now and it is still one of the most popular! You can use it on your smartphone, tablet, or computer. It's completely free with an internet connection.

Fring

Fring has free calls, video, and text and can connect up to 4 people at one time, as long as they are registered.

Imo

Imo is one of the simplest video-calling apps there is. Send messages, make video and voice calls with one button press.

Glide

Glide does not offer live video-calling but you can send a pre-recorded video message up to 5 minutes long to one or more person. The recipient can then respond with their own video message at their convenience. It's kind of like visual voicemail.

Viber

Viber has some unique features, allowing you to send a pre-recorded video message or have a live video-chat. You can also send stickers, messages, photos, and your current location.

Zoom Cloud

Zoom is a video-conferencing App allowing you to have face-to-face conversations with up to 25 people at a time. It's great for the professional, allowing you to set up virtual meetings, host webinars, send invites, and messages. It works on most audio-visual devices.

Video-calling is becoming more accessible and is often free with most applications. However, be aware that video-calling will utilize your data when not connected to WiFi. Be sure to check your data plan before using video-calling regularly.

Not only does video-calling help with speech understanding, but it can make the connection even more intimate.

In the conversation we discussed in the beginning, the new dog Cooper could even make a debut on the screen, eliminating any confusion about who Cooper is!

Don't be afraid to give it a try and reconnect with your loved ones.

Let us know in the comments which is your favorite video app!

Lindsey Banks

Lindsey Banks is a graduate of the Doctor of Audiology (Au.D.) program at the University of Florida. She uses her diverse experience in hearing healthcare and her passion for helping people to provide credible information to those with hearing loss who visit Everyday Hearing.

Comments

  1. These are some great options for our grandparents who are experiencing hearing loss. We’re wanting to get them an amplified telephone because some of the apps like Skype are difficult for them to figure out when on their own. We think it may be a good Christmas present, that way they can hear their grand kids more clearly when they call.

  2. It’s cool to see that there is technology coming out to help people who are hard of hearing. My grandma has a hard time hearing and every time we call her, its literally that exact response up at the top, “What?!” and it happens several times throughout the conversation. I’ll have to show my parents this and see if we can get her hooked up with one of these things to help her with hearing the conversations while talking.

  3. Avishek Banerjee says:

    You can also add R-HUB HD video conferencing servers in the above list. It is easy to use and works on all platforms viz Windows, MAC, Android, iOS etc.

  4. Alicia says:

    I hope video calls have captions as well.

  5. Ricardo says:

    Is ther e a simple way to write text that appears as captions on skype video call or any other app?

    1. John says:

      Hi Ricardo,
      Yes, it is possible to write text that appears as captions on Skype video calls. At Konnekt, we found 3 ways. Then we improved upon them:
      1. Using a computer (PC, Mac, etc), you can share your computer screen. Open an app such as Notepad or Word. Set the font size to huge (such as 70-point). As you type, your text will appear on your friend or family member’s screen, without them having to do a thing!
      Unfortunately, your own face will be reduced to a tiny blob on their screen.

      2. As above, use Skype to share your screen. This time, shrink the Notepad window so it occupies just the lower 1/3 of your screen. Then, display your own video camera output (you may need a different app if you can’t do it in Skype) on the top 1/3 of the screen. Your friend will see your face on top with your “captions” on the bottom, while you type!
      Unfortunately, this creates extra delay, which causes “lip sync” errors.

      3. Konnekt found a third-party app that allows you to do “Picture In Picture”! You can actually place your text window in one corner or along the bottom. Unlike the above method, this introduces very little delay and very little video quality degradation.
      The app has changed (and we’re continually testing new apps and methods) so contact Konnekt for the app we’re using now.

      We’ve also found a way for you to have your voice recognized (and converted into text captions) automatically as you speak… and best of all, you can “correct” the text with your keyboard, because even the best voice-to-text algorithms struggle with Proper Names, fast talking and accents. One of our customers in The Netherlands uses this (free) app to talk face-to-face with his elderly mother in Belgium, who speaks a Flemish dialect that the voice-to-text software struggles with! :-)

  6. Great round-up of apps. Face-to-face conversation not only improves comprehension, it also helps reduces social isolation, halves depression risk and improves cognitive ability in as little as 6 weeks daily chat (according to OHSU studies of elderly).

    For those with a VERY elderly parent with hearing loss or a hearing impairment, even the simplest apps can be frustrating and too challenging. Tiny text, forgettable icons, pop-ups, a myriad of settings, update reminders, swipe-and-gripe user interfaces… the list goes on.

    There are newer seniors video phones designed specifically for the elderly and those with a disability such as a hearing impairment, dementia or acquired brain injury. The best thing is that they use Skype under the hood so the family can be on any device to talk to “gran” face-to-face.

    I like Lindsey’s round-up of apps. For very old adults, our choice is Skype due to its general reliability, longevity and ability to call regular telephone numbers. I believe Facebook messenger and WhatsApp also provide video chat now, and are becoming very popular with the younger crowd!

  7. Marcy says:

    I just want to put my ear to my cell phone and hear the caller i just need to know is,there any way i can turn on the valume on my phone

    1. There probably is but it depends on what phone you have. Would recommend you talk to the place you purchased the phone to learn how to make adjustments.

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