Q. Are there any tips or apps for hearing-impaired people who use phones or tablets and won’t use hearing aids?
A. Although they tend to be tucked away, the accessibility features built into most modern smartphone software can offer some useful tools for users with hearing impairments. These tools vary by operating system, but start by opening the Settings icon and having a look around the Accessibility, Ease of Access and Sound areas.
For example, both Google’s Android system and Apple’s iOS software include controls to turn on other sensory notifications — usually a pulsing light or a vibration — to enhance alerts or incoming calls. In apps that support them, you can also add closed captions to videos to provide text descriptions of the scenes on the screen.
Stereo sound can also be a problem for people who have hearing loss in one ear. Check the sound settings on your device for controls to switch to mono audio, or controls to independently raise the volume on one side over the other.
Apple, Google and Microsoft all have guides on their sites to the accessibility features in their mobile software. Apple has an overview for its Mac desktop operating system. The settings on Google’s Chromebooks can also be adjusted for easier use, and Microsoft has similar advice for Windows and Xbox users.
The Everyday Hearing site has compiled a list of more than 70 apps for Android and iOS devices that are designed to help those with hearing loss or tinnitus, including apps that isolate or amplify sounds. For those who do need hearing aids, dedicated smartphone apps can help enhance certain models.
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