DGM: There are people throughout the world who have various levels of hearing difficulties. What can or does readily available free testing do to help identify such people and the level of difficulties they have? What can individual parents do with the results they find about their children or themselves? What can be done in school systems who lack access to “modern” technology? Are the really inexpensive hearing aids useful? Etc.
RAM: In terms of hearing impairment and technology, here are my thoughts:
Cell phones are on the cusp of being very helpful tools for the hearing impaired. What comes to my mind right away is the Google Translate app. Have you seen the real time camera translation? It’s free to try and very interesting. Give it a shot! I must say it actually did work for me with square fonts in a Spanish cookbook and is fun to do. I say the technology is on the cusp because the functionality is still imperfect and rudimentary but it is easy to see the progress these technologies have made on portable and available low-cost smartphones.
What I was actually thinking for the hearing impaired was the speech-to-text and text-to-speech functions that are also already built in. Well it turns out that a quick search shows me that the hearing impaired community indeed is aware, at least some of them, of the speech-to-text capabilities of this app. I also found it interesting that they’ve also figured out other ways to use the app. For instance, using the translator’s pre-queued common expressions as a much faster method than typing in expressions from scratch. The clever trick I saw was to set the translation from English to English which emphasized the change in the way that the app was being used.
The following link for comparison is a discussion of approaches hearing impaired students in a formal education environment: http://www.accreditedschoolsonline.org/resources/students-with-hearing-impairments/