Live Transcribe Gives Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Individuals Instant Captions with Speech Recognition Technology

January 28, 2020

There's a mobile app, released by Google in February 2019, called Live Transcribe that is aimed to help people who are deaf and hard of hearing more-easily have conversations with people who are hearing. The app uses speech recognition technology to transcribe speech into text directly on the phone screen, nearly in real-time.

Live Transcribe is currently available on Android.

How it works

Anyone running Android with 5.0 Lollipop and up can download the Live Transcribe app on the Google Store for free.

Once it's downloaded, an accessibility feature appears on the phone in the lower right corner, next to the menu keys.

To  use it, select the icon that looks like a human and the app opens up. Once the screen says that it's ready to transcribe, it will start transcribing what it hears.

If the app seems to be missing or mistyping words, there is an indicator to show strength of voice. The phone may need to be moved closer to the speaker to get more clarity.

"It’s powered by Google’s speech recognition technology, so the captions adjust as your conversation flows. And since conversations aren’t stored on servers, they stay secure on your device," according to Android.

Who it's for

The app was created by Google in partnership with Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., a world-renowned university for deaf and hard-of-hearing students.

It was created specifically for those who are deaf and hard of hearing, but it can be useful for anyone who understands better by reading than hearing (or reading and listening).

Because many can't or choose not to speak, the Live Transcribe app also has a keyboard feature where users can type their replies.

"Live Transcribe gives me a more flexible and efficient way to communicate with hearing people. I just love it, it really changed the way I solve my communication problem," says Dr. Mohammad Obiedat, a professor at Gallaudet University, according to Android.

Other considerations

Live Transcribe is generally considered easy to open and quick to use. It works in over 70 languages and dialects, and the user can easily switch between two preferred languages. It also has adjustable text size and the user can opt for a dark theme.

The app does need a wifi or network connection to work, and does not work for phone calls. Of course, it is also not 100% accurate and may not work as well in very noisy places.

Further reading

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