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Smartphones keep us all connected - to our moms on WhatsApp, to our friends on social media and to the latest viral cat video. That can all be a lot of fun - but for some people, phones represent far more than just recreation. The ability to communicate via text messaging and other accessible technologies has connected many deaf and hard-of-hearing people to the world in a way that was impossible a few years ago. Not only does this tech enable deaf and hard-of-hearing people connect with the world, it also helps people with normal hearing communicate with them. 

Download these helpful hearing and speech assistance apps for free on iOS or Android and have easier and more accessible communication with people who are hearing impaired. 


Ava is a handy app that is designed to make communication for deaf or hard-of-hearing people a little bit easier. To engage in a conversation with another person, a deaf or hard-of-hearing individual simply needs to hold the phone up to the person they’re speaking to and the app will translate the speech into text. The great thing about this app is that it works with group discussions as well and is not limited to one-on-one conversations.

Sorenson BuzzCards

Deaf or hard-of-hearing people can communicate with people who don’t know sign language using the BuzzCards app on their smartphones. It’s a good idea to create the cards you might need to use often ahead of time so that you have immediate access to them when you need to communicate quickly with people who cannot sign. This app not only allows you to edit the cards as required, but you can also organize them into categories to make them easy to find. For quick and easy communication using BuzzCards, you need to simply choose the relevant card and hold up your smartphone so that the person you are communicating with can see and read it.


Glide is the fastest live video messenger app on the planet. Glide wasn’t necessarily designed to be used as a hearing and speech assistance app but it can be and is being used for that purpose. The fact that this app combines the convenience of text and voice messages with the expressiveness of video chat might be the reason deaf and hard-of-hearing people can use it to communicate.

Easy Talk Lite

This app is similar to Ava in that it uses voice recognition to transcribe a conversation and it will also be very useful for deaf or hard-of-hearing people. It’s also convenient because it works offline even when far from civilization. Only available for download on Android.

Vodacom SMS emergency for the deaf

Vodacom is committed to providing easy access to a range of mobile products, price plans and services that are suitable for persons with various disabilities. The Vodacom 082 112 SMS Emergency Service is free and exclusively provided for Vodacom Prepaid, Contract and Top Up / Hybrid customers who are deaf, hearing-impaired or speech-impaired.

The Emergency Service enables registered customers to request emergency services such as police, ambulance, fire and sea rescue by sending an SMS to the ER 24 Emergency Service Contact Centre. In order to use the Emergency Service, Deaf, Hearing and speech impaired customers must first register their mobile number.

Send an SMS with the keyword 'Register' to 082 112 to activate.

For more information, read more about this great SMS emergency service on the Vodacom website. Terms & conditions apply.


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