12 Best Speech-to-Text Apps for Deaf and Hard of Hearing People (2024)

Sometimes, no matter what you do to adjust your hearing aids or cochlear implant settings, you can’t hear someone speaking. You’re making all the effort to concentrate, but nothing is changing. No words are coming clear. 

Experiences like these are frustrating and humiliating at times. It adds to your anxiety that you’ll be missing some vital information. The longer you don’t do or say anything, it’s like being on your island.

Not hearing clearly doesn’t have to be the status quo. You don’t have to accept your hearing loss and situation as is.

Starting today, I will share the top speech-to-text applications you can use to have better conversations, clearly understand what people are saying, and have more confidence around people. 

The app evaluation is from a mixture of experiences with speech-to-text applications and our engagement with the hard-of-hearing community. We specifically chose apps that are designed for people with hearing loss in mind.

Benefits of speech-to-text app

The benefits of having a speech-to-text app have helped many people since the advancement of artificial intelligence. People with hearing loss were the early users of speech-to-text apps. 

Some may shy away from an app because it doesn’t fit naturally into how we converse with people. Not making eye contact as someone is speaking and constantly having to look down at your phone may make it appear like you are being rude. 

However, there are many more benefits of using a speech-to-text app that overlooks some of the disadvantages.

 Here are some of the benefits:

  • It fills the gap where your hearing aids or cochlear implants can’t manage
  • Picks up speech in a range of different background noises
  • Records of conversations, in case you forget
  • Avoid delays to an assigned captioner or translator when time is of the essence. 
  • Helpful when someone is wearing masks and you cannot lipread
  • Transportable on smartphone and tablet

Setbacks on speech-to-text app

Speech-to-text application is built using artificial intelligence (AI). To succeed, AI needs a lot of data for it to work. Data in the speech-to-text application is the recordings of various people’s voices and conversations. 

WiFi or Data Plan Needed

Many tech companies are making speech-to-text apps for mobile devices that can only collect speech recordings online. If you don’t have the option of using the mobile app without a data plan or wifi, there is a high probability your conversations are not kept private.

Cost vs. Free

Some brands charge for using the app because the income helps cover business expenses, especially if this is their main source of revenue. If you download a paid app from the Apple or Google Play store, 30% of the revenue goes to Apple or Google.

No company operates for free. You are paying somehow. It’s just not obvious or visible upfront.

Big brands or companies making billions of revenue annually, like Apple and Google, can afford to give for free. One way of looking at it is that your other paid apps are subsidies for these free apps. However, some companies sell additional products and services that can cover the expense of producing a free app.

Gender, Disability, and Ethnic Bias

In the early versions of the speech-to-text application, you could tell who was behind the scenes of building the app: a Western male with no disability. This fits the profile of the average tech worker. 

See also  Best Voice to Text App for iPhone | Hearing Challenges

We can’t evaluate all the app accuracy because it depends on who the speaker is. Some people will say the app works perfectly, and others will say that the app isn’t as great. That’s because each speaker is different, and how well the app can pick up their speech will vary. 

Apps limitations will factor in female voices, children’s voices, low voices, deaf accents, speech impediments, or even someone speaking with a mask on.

Things are better than before. Not perfect, but better.

Noisy backgrounds

So now, the biggest hurdle these app developers face is the ability to capture speech from different noisy conditions. Some apps do not work in noisy environments; others have better results.

Minimal vocabulary

The other biggest hurdle is the AI needs to understand domain expertise. If you are a doctor speaking in terms like “Borborygmi,” Try saying that on an app, and you’ll get a confusing text. Apps used in academic settings, like university or for industry-specific conversations with jargon, will work poorly.

For Android and iPhone

1. Otter


Otter is often used in workplace settings but can easily be used for many personal use. Otter is the default speech-to-text solution for Zoom meetings.

Cost: Free/Paid

Download on iOS | on Android

2. Ava


The app differentiator is for group conversations. Ava can identify multiple speakers if they download the app and connect on a private chat. The app saves recordings and translates 16 languages.

Cost: Free/Paid

Download on iOS | on Android

3. Koda


The app can uniquely identify different speakers’ voices and color-code the other speakers so that you can follow along with who’s saying what. No one else needs to download the app. The app works on any platform, desktop and mobile, using your web browser.

Cost: Free/Paid

Download on iOS | on Android

4. TextHear / SpeechNotes


It started with a focus on the deaf and hard of hearing, but the app on Android provides speech recording capabilities for anyone. The core speech recognition technology is not made in-house but is licensed from Google.

Cost: One-time Fee

Download on iOS | on Android

5. Voiceitt


Sometimes, the speech of people with hearing loss can’t be picked up by speech-to-text apps. VoiceItt has been designed to pick up uncommon speech.

Cost: Monthly and Annual Fee

For more information

Android-only Apps

6. Live Transcribe


Available in multiple languages and can hold a copy of a conversation for a few days. Live Transcribe worked well for people of varying speech impediments. Large font friendly.

Cost: Free

Pre-download App: This can be found under Accessibility under the Settings feature. 

7. Notes


Notes are good for quick conversations. The app doesn’t stay on indefinitely, and the microphone turns off after a few minutes. The app can drain your battery after several hours. You get the benefits of saving your text until you manually delete it. 

Cost: Free

Pre-download App: All Android smartphones come with Notes added already.

8. MyEar App


The app offers simple features like clearing text, increasing or decreasing text size, and changing colors. Can adjust to three languages: English, French, and German.

Cost: One-time Fee

Download on iOS 

iOS-only apps

9. Live Caption iOS Accessibility Feature


Apple brand-made speech-to-text app that offers easy access to speech-to-text translation. The convenience of using your iPhone with a number of accessibility features for people with hearing loss is one of the main reasons people like this.

See also  Best Apps for Deaf and Hard of Hearing | Useful apps for day-to-day use

Cost: Free

Pre-download App: This can be found under Accessibility under the Settings feature.

10. NALscribe


Accent-friendly app that started in the research lab in Australia. The app helps capture speech when someone is wearing a mask. It offers a direct way to erase your conversation for privacy and security.

Cost: Free

Download on iOS 

11. Live Transcribe for iOS


A simple to use and sizeable font-friendly app. This app is designed to get right to the point, and that is to transcribe speech.

Cost: One-time Fee

Download on iOS

12. Hearing Helper


A simple to use and sizeable font-friendly app. This app is designed to get right to the point, and that is to transcribe speech.

Cost: One-time Fee

Download on iOS

Where to best use your speech-to-text app?

These apps have better use when speaking to someone beside you. You can use the app if you are in a room with a speaker or public address system, you can use the app.

  • Travel: Bus tour or Double Decker tour
  • Live conferences or events
  • One-on-one appointment 
  • Group exercise & peer discussions at school
  • Office meetings (check your company’s data security policy)

What about transcribing phone calls and video meetings?

The apps that are listed here focus mainly on smartphones. However, other apps are more user-friendly for different needs. 

There are separate apps available to assist with transcribing your phone calls while you are on the phone. There are applications available for the workplace, such as video calls or watching videos on your desktop. Some of the brands above provide multiple applications.

Troubleshooting your app

One of the common issues with using a speech-to-text app is that your app isn’t friendly for sharing microphones. You may experience your app cutting off other devices, like your hearing aids, at times.

To fix it, you should turn off the Bluetooth feature on your phone. This will help prevent other audio streaming devices from fighting for the same access to the mic.

If you liked this post, you’d LOVE Making Sense Sunday

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