How hearing apps gave our family hope

It was March 23, 2020, when Tak, my husband and The Digital World columnist, said that he couldn’t hear.

“What do you mean by you can't hear?” I asked, puzzled and wondering if he was kidding. This was not the time to joke around. The COVID-19 pandemic had shut down many services. Schools even closed and conducted classes virtually. Libraries, recreation centers, churches, and colleges went remote.

As it turned out, getting an appointment was also a big ordeal as they cut down on unnecessary hospital visits. Unfortunately, hearing loss was not one to get an appointment right away either.

Everyone we talked to and everything we read on the internet said that after a hearing loss, it was imperative to see a specialist within 48 hours before treatment options start to disappear. After 48 hours of calling around to find an ENT to see him, Tak was finally seen by one. With his "hearing tool" in hand, he was ready to talk with the doctor. That tool was his smartphone with an app, which he had not used before, called "Live Transcribe" by Google.

This was a scary time for my family, but Tak, having a degree and experience in technology for over three decades, figured out a way to communicate using this app.

In addition, he had been teaching seniors how to use technology for four years with our nonprofit Center for Aging in the Digital World. Still a little surprised and thankful that even during one of the most stressful times in the world due to COVID, and one of the most stressful times of his life being suddenly deaf, he had the composure to figure out a way to communicate without hearing.

We went to his appointment with his tool. Instead of hearing the doctor, he read what the doctor said and responded.

This app had been a life saver for him and for our family. It gave hope. It gave an alternative to regular communication. When your world went silent suddenly, even temporarily, and you figured out that there was hope for communication without writing everything down, it was truly a blessing.

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Volume 15, Issue 8, Posted 9:21 AM, 05.02.2023