The 13 Best Apps for Hearing Loss on iPhone and Android

These services offer hearing assistance, live captioning, sound alerts, and more for people who are Deaf or hard of hearing.

By Ability Central

25 June, 2024

A young Asian man with Down syndrome wearing glasses and a collared black shirt takes a break from playing tennis to sit on a white bench in a green athlete's shade shelter, watching something on his phone

Hearing loss is one of the largest public health issues in the United States. According to the National Council on Aging, hearing loss affects around 60.7 million Americans age 12 or older. Approximately 28.8 million of those could “significantly benefit” from hearing aids.

But that’s not all—according to a 2017 study about adults with hearing loss, those numbers are expected to double by 2060.

When hearing loss is so common, what does that mean for communication? 

Luckily, advances in technology help people who are Deaf or hard of hearing communicate easier through tools like microphones, sound amplifiers, specialized headphones, and more. And now, many of those tools are accessible via one simple object: your smartphone.  

In this article, we identify 13 of the best iPhone and Android apps for people who are Deaf or hard of hearing.

  • Sound Alert: Best App for Sound Monitoring with Visual and Vibrate Alerts
  • Volume Boost and Sound Amplifier: Best Sound Amplifier Apps for iPhone and Android
  • Mimi Hearing Test and Android Hearing Test: Best Free Hearing Test for Smartphones
  • Otter: Best App for Virtual Transcription
  • CaptionCall: Best App for Real-Time Call Captioning
  • SignSchool: Best Free App for Learning Sign Language
  • ReSound Tinnitus Relief: Best Communication App for People With Tinnitus

 

Sound Alert: Best App for Sound Monitoring with Visual and Vibrate Alerts

Sound Alert is a paid subscription app that uses Braci’s AI sound recognition technology to identify potential sound triggers—like doorbells, crying babies, or fire alarms—and send you multiple alerts.

For up to 10 trained sounds, Sound Alert can trigger:

  • Flashing lights
  • Phone vibration
  • Notifications on other compatible devices (like smartwatches, external microphones, and shaker alarm clocks)  

A similar app called SoundClass, available for iPhone only, specializes in AI recognition of sounds at night. Prerecorded sounds like mosquitoes buzzing, dogs barking, or doors opening trigger visual and vibrate alerts. SoundClass also records things like snoring or coughing to help track potential sleep issues.  

In addition, both iPhones and Android devices offer built-in sound alert features. These features (or apps, in Android’s case) notify you of potential sound alerts but do not offer upgrades like recording sound triggers. 

 

Volume Boost and Sound Amplifier: Best Sound Amplifier Apps for iPhone and Android

Both iPhone and Android offer a wide range of sound amplifiers for people who are Deaf or hard of hearing. Among the best are Volume Boost for iPhone and Sound Amplifier for Android. 

Volume Boost (for iOS) connects to a headset, AirPods, or Bluetooth headphones to:

  • Improve sound output
  • Filter out background noise
  • Improve audio detail

The app’s settings can be tweaked for each ear, making Volume Boost a great app for people who have partial hearing loss. 

Sound Amplifier, an Android app developed by Google, offers similar features like noise reduction and audio boost, also adjustable for each ear. Sound Amplifier uses a “Conversation Mode” to parse out background noise and make voices clearer, especially in public places. This app works best with wired headphones, although improvements for Bluetooth headsets are in the works. 

 

Mimi Hearing Test and Android Hearing Test: Best Free Hearing Test Apps for Smartphones

What if you think you might have hearing loss, but you’re not sure?

Mimi Hearing Test offers free, medically-backed hearing tests for iOS users. While Mimi’s results can’t be used as an official diagnosis, you can bring your test results to a doctor or audiologist for further testing.

Similarly, the Android app Hearing Test offers free versions of the two most basic hearing tests: 

  • Pure-tone audiometry 
  • Speech intelligibility 

A pro subscription allows you to access your test results offline or upload them to cloud storage (for easy sharing with your audiologist!). 

 

Otter: Best App for Virtual Transcription at Work

Otter is an AI-powered transcription tool that’s fantastic for use at work. Available on both iPhone and Android (and a web version!), Otter records and transcribes audio in real time.

You can invite Otter to: 

  • In-person meetings
  • Phone calls
  • Video conferencing services like Zoom, Google Meet, and Microsoft Teams 

So long as you have a solid Internet connection, Otter takes meeting notes and transcribes live captions with impressive accuracy. Users can scroll back in a conversation to read over a detail they missed or make edits to the transcript. 

What’s extra cool about Otter is its ability to understand the info it records. Otter’s AI identifies meeting highlights and provides a quick summary of everything discussed at the end of the session. You can also integrate Otter with communication and task management software like Slack and Salesforce to assign discussed tasks to meeting attendees.  

 

CaptionCall: Best App for Real-Time Call Captioning

CaptionCall is a “no-cost captioned phone service” designed to help people with diagnosed hearing loss communicate. CaptionCall displays instant, customizable captions that allow phone conversations to flow naturally.

CaptionCall is available for:

The best part? This service is free for people with documented hearing loss. Deaf or hard-of-hearing users fill out a quick self-identification form to qualify for free service through CaptionCall’s federal funding.

If you don’t qualify for CaptionCall’s free service, a low-cost alternative is InnoCaption, which offers both AI-generated live captioning and CART services (communication access realtime translation) through live stenographers. You can find InnoCaption on both iPhone and Android.

 

ASL Bloom: Best App for Learning Sign Language From Your Phone

Many people who are Deaf or hard of hearing benefit from learning American Sign Language, or ASL. However, not everyone can afford in-person classes or extra visits with a teacher. 

ASL Bloom is the best app for people who want to learn ASL from their phones. The free version teaches the basics of ASL with native Deaf signers as instructors. A pro plan upgrade unlocks:

  • Tips about Deaf culture and grammar
  • A visual dictionary 
  • Practice quizzes and dialogues
  • Even more lessons to learn 1,300+ ASL signs. 

You can find ASL Bloom on both iPhone and Android.

P.S. You have options if you’re on a budget! For iPhone users, another app called SignSchool offers:

  • Free interactive lessons
  • An extensive ASL dictionary
  • Learning games
  • A “Sign of the Day” feature to help people learn ASL at their own pace 

In the Google Play Store, Intersign is a free ASL app for Android that offers free step-by-step lessons. You can upgrade to a paid plan to remove ads. 

 

ReSound Tinnitus Relief: Best Communication App for People With Tinnitus

Finally, you can also use smartphone apps to manage tinnitus, one of the lesser-known symptoms of hearing loss. Tinnitus causes ringing in the ears or other noises only you can hear, like clicking, hissing, or pulsing. It can be difficult to drown out tinnitus sounds and focus on what’s happening around you.

ReSound Tinnitus Relief is an app for both Android and iPhone that uses both sounds and relaxation exercises to help people manage their tinnitus symptoms.

In addition to sound therapy, ReSound improves focus and offers some relief from tinnitus overwhelm through:

  • Hearing tests
  • Breathing exercises
  • Guided meditation
  • Specialized imagery

On the paid subscription, you can create “My Plan,” a personalized tinnitus therapy program built on customized soundscapes. You can also access lessons designed to help you manage tinnitus symptoms by learning more about the condition.

 

Stay tuned for more app reviews and smartphone accessibility features

What did you think of our collection of the best apps for hearing loss? Did we miss any? Let us know by getting in touch at hello@abilitycentral.org. Keep an eye out for more app roundups coming soon! 

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Our Device Library offers an extensive breakdown of the accessibility pros and cons of several hundred smart devices, updated regularly using data from the Global Access Reporting Initiative (GARI).

Stay tuned for more resources from the Ability Central team, and explore the Portal today for more features like our article databaseevent listings, and the Service Locator tool, a searchable national database of nonprofit organizations that offer support for people with communication disabilities and their families. 

Tags:
Assistive Technology Quality Living Sign Languages
Article Type:
Learning