Deaf & Hard of Hearing

Today the SmartVP 2.0 Videophone was announced by Purple Communications. The next generation videophone is specifically designed for people who are deaf and hard-of-hearing has upgraded hardware and software that is supported by a powerful new video platform and provides a seamless communication experience.

The SmartVP, based on the Android OS, connects to a television and utilizes Video Relay Service (VRS) that connects a user who is deaf with and American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter, to connect people who are deaf with users that don’t know ASL.

The SmartVP 2.0 upgrade offers higher quality video and greater reliability as well as the following additional features:

  • Yellow Pages: The app is more robust and users can easily search for any organization can call with a button click. Maps and local reviews have also been added.
  • Keyboard Support: The 1.2 platform now supports text input via an external keyboard.
  • Text Box: A scalable and movable text box allows for note taking and sharing of more technical information.
  • RSS Feed: Allows the user to subscribe to websites, news, entertainment, sports, vlogs and other content.
  • Enhanced Deaf Video Library:  A growing library of deaf videos and movies now categorized.
  • How-To Videos:  ASL instructional videos covering the features of SmartVP.

SmartVP 2.0, VRS, Purple’s P3 software, and mobile application are free of charge to those qualified.

The DynaVox 15, a powerful speech-generating tablet with a 15” display has been introduced by DynaVox Systems, LLC. The new tablet is part of the groundbreaking T-Series of touch-based speech-generating devices, which includes the DynaVox T10. The DynaVox tablets are intended for people who have aphasia, autism, cerebral palsy, cortical visual disabilities, early ALA, Locked-in syndrome, stroke and anyone else who can benefit from speech-generation.

The T15 was carefully developed to provide quick, simple communication and ease of use. It boasts a vibrant display with high-contrast PCS symbols that enhance clarity and target size benefitting those with vision disabilities. 

SME is an organization connecting people to solutions in manufacturing. They work with academia and companies to train workforces and upcoming manufacturing professionals. Recently SME launched closed-caption educational videos, which are accessible to people who are deaf or have hearing disabilities. The programs are also available on DVD. This puts SME in line with the Federal Communication Commission’s Accessibility and Innovation Initiative as the educational closed-caption videos promote collaborative problem-solving among students and other SME Stakeholders.

New rules requiring closed captioning of video clips posted online have been approved by the Federal Communication Commission. These new rules further the purpose of the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 (CVAA) helping ensure equal access to programming by people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

There are multiple deadlines according to the type of video clip.

  • January 1, 2016 for “straight lift” clips, which show a single excerpt of a captioned program with no changes to the audio
  • January 1, 2017 for “montages”, which contain multiple straight lift clips
  • July 1, 2017 for live and near-live programing within 8 hours of airing on television.

The requirements don’t apply to video clips in the distributor’s online library before the applicable compliance deadline because compliance for this category of video clips is considered to be economically burdensome. 

Tyler Foulger and other student researchers from Brigham Young University who were born deaf are part of a project developing a system to project sign language narration using several types of wearable computing glasses – including Google Glass.

The system can project a sign language interpreter on the screen of the glasses. Students who have tried the glasses and watched a movie with an interpreter on the screen of the glasses have been thrilled and intrigued with the experience. Researchers have found while testing during a field trip visits by high school students at jean Messieu School for the Deaf that displaying the interpreter on one lens is the preferred method.

Listen to The IAP Podcast Episode 6 on Google Glass

Amazon will start adding closed captions to instant video and Amazon Instant Video streaming service this year. Criticism has been aimed at Amazon for not providing captions on all services or clearly identifying which DVDs feature captions on their Lovefilm by Post.

15,000 signatures on a petition call out Amazon to make information regarding subtitles and captions clearer. Comedian Mark Thomas is credited with helping the petition hit the 15,000 mark after he posted two large posters reading, “lovefilm HateDef People”

Sometime this year Amazon will roll out closed captions on its Prime Instant Video service but an exact date has not been announced.

A spokesperson for Amazon stated, “Amazon is committed to ensuring that all our customers can enjoy the full benefits of our products and services. We expect to begin rolling out closed captioned titles on Prime Instant Video movie and TV streaming service this year, and will continue to expand the range of closed captioned movies and TV shows over time.  

“In addition, our DVD product detail pages provide information about the availability of closed captioned titles and subtitles where provided by studios.” 

See our blog post on the Importance of Captioning videos that were posted on YouTube

Seven videos have been release that will help customers who are deaf or hard of hearing in New Zealand with tax compliance. Revenue Minister Todd McClay explains, “Sign Language is the third official language in New Zealand with around 42,000 of us using it every day.” He continues to say, “It is important that Inland Revenue communicates directly with customers, and doing this in their preferred language helps build constructive and ongoing relationships.”

MyEardrod, an app developed by The Tecnalia Centre of Applied Research, helps people with hearing disabilities identify ordinary sounds that are found in a typical domestic environment. Doorbells, fire alarms and dripping taps are among the everyday situations that can be challenging for people who cannot hear.

MyEardrod can be easily downloaded from Google Play and installed on a mobile phone giving the solution great flexibility and mobility addressing the limitation of fix installations. The app can also be personalized making sure it is identifying sounds that are relevant to the user.


As accessibility consultants who live in the world of Section 508, WCAG 2.0, heading structures, alt text and text alternatives, we can often find ourselves removed from the human side of what we do. Day to day we’re buried in code, writing reports, working with developers and project managers, which can distance us from the original reason we got into the business. I love it when something comes around that reminds us of the very human purpose behind our daily work.

Grey Group Singapore (Grey) has developed two mobile apps with the goal of increasing the quality of life for people with hearing disabilities. Supported by the Singapore Association for the Deaf (SADeaf) the app for smart phones turns them into intelligent devices that help people who are Deaf or hard-of-hearing.

The app, Say it With Signs, translates audio messages into signs, which are displayed on the phone. This makes it easier and quicker for the user to interpret the message. They can then reply via text.


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