4 Speech Recognition Apps To Assist The Hearing Impaired

Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) is nothing new and has been around for some time, but Google’s recent launch of Live Transcribe has brought ASR back into the spotlight, proving that with any technology one only has to blink and there is a new development, a better version, a more cutting edge app.

Previously only available on computers, this technology is now branching out to smartphones and tablets in order to improve the accessibility for those suffering with hearing loss. Speech Recognition Software identifies spoken language and then turns it into text. All these software and apps work on a spectrum. Some are able to only recognize a selection of words and phrases, while the more sophisticated applications are able to understand and transcribe live speech.

Below I have listed and detailed some of the most popular apps, including what they do and how they do it.

Live Transcribe – by Google


Google’s Live Transcribe aims to increase accessibility for hard of hearing individuals. It allows individuals access to conversations going on around them in real time via the app on their smartphones. Even if words are missed, users are still able to understand the gist of the conversation from the surrounding text.

  • Android only

  • Transcribes in real time

  • Transcribes from 70 languages and dialects and can switch between them

  • Allows bilingual communication

  • Uses Google’s speech recognition technology

  • Conversations are stored on your device not on a server so they are secure

  • APP built in collaboration with Gallaudet University, which is the only university in the world that is orientated around Deaf and hard of hearing individuals.

  • Downloads on any device running Android 5.0 or newer

  • Can adjust text size

  • The text box allows the user to type response and show the screen to others included in the conversation

  • Vibrating alert notifies the user when the conversation has restarted after halting for a bit

  • Microphone source can be changed

  • Measures ambient noise levels to allow the user to move the microphone closer to the speaker if need be

Roger Voice


Whilst text messaging, WhatsApp and video calling apps such as Skype and FaceTime have radically changed the way in which people with profound hearing loss communicate, voice calls still play a prominent part of everyday life.

RogerVoice generates real-time subtitles for voice calls. As long as the hearing impaired person has the app installed on their phone, RogerVoice will transcribe any phone call.

  • Available for Android and iOS users

  • Available worldwide

  • The basic app is free which includes unlimited captioning between users who have the app

  • They offer 30 mins of free calls with landlines and mobile phones that do not have the app, any further usage is charged for

  • Automated Real-Time Captioning – Transcribes telephone speech in real time on the user’s phone

  • Receives and transcribes calls from landlines and mobile phones that do not have the app downloaded

  • Has text-to-speech option if the user would rather not speak

  • Intuitive easy to use interface

  • Text can be enlarged

  • The microphone can be muted

  • Users can retrieve transcriptions of conversations by searching under contacts

  • Transcription accuracy is reported as good but not perfect

  • Automated Captured Videos – Subtitled video calls

  • Able to request an interpreter for calls



TextHear is a speech to text app that converts conversation to text on your phone, tablet or laptop. This is done through computer voice recognition software

  • Android version is free with unlimited use of the app

  • iOS is free to download and test for 1 minute, thereafter transcription minutes need to be purchased

  • An adaptor needs to be purchased to connect a landline to a mobile/tablet/laptop in order for the landline to work with the app

  • The microphone needs to be activated in order for transcription to begin on mobile

  • Punctuation and spacing are automatically added to aid comprehension

  • The text is archived for later reference

  • Supports over 100 languages and accents

  • USA, Canada, UK and Europe

  • Reviews of the app show it to be around 85% accurate in transcribing



This speech to text app focuses on group conversation ability. Participants are required to add the app to their devices and then select the conversation group they would like to be part of. The group’s conversation will show up in text on their device under each participant’s name. Ava also works in one on one conversation by holding the phone’s microphone close to the speaker.

  • Android and iOS

  • Transcribes in real time

  • Allows for one on one and group conversations provided everyone in the group has the app installed

  • The free option allows captioning of any live conversation for 5 hours per month and allows you to save the transcriptions

  • The Premium and Pro packages allow various unlimited benefits

  • It can understand and transcribe 12 spoken languages

Whilst Live Transcribe is very new, it appears to be the most seamless in terms of functionality, allowing for transcription and use to be more automatic without much being required by the user. Its disadvantage is that it is only currently available on the Google platform and not on iOS. Having tested most of these apps, it seems the biggest challenge is perfecting the accuracy of the transcription, which is a mammoth task considering the number of languages and accents that need to be catered for in order to make an app internationally viable.

Pros and cons aside, the single most important feature of all these apps is how they are changing the everyday life of those with hearing loss by providing them with increased accessibility; not only at home but in the workplace too.