Deaf and Hard of Hearing: Call Hearing Persons Via iPhone with Deaftel

January 20, 2012

2:31 pm

Deaftel, a new iOS app, aims to ease phone communication for those who are hard of hearing.

Currently, all available services for those who are deaf or hard of hearing (such as IP-Relay) involve the assistance of a relay operator.  Although this effectively allows those who cannot hear to communicate via telephone, because an operator must deliver the message, there is a lack of privacy.  This New York City-based service solves this problem.

By using “cutting edge technology,” Deaftel “translates a hearing person's voice into text during a phone call. Deaftel users can read and respond to the text message with their keyboard.”  The service uses a simple animated UI to inform users when the recipient has picked up the phone and ended the call, and it will leave a message on your behalf when the user gets their recipient's voicemail.

deaftel voicemail screen


Clearly the bulk of Deaftel's success will hinge upon the accuracy of their voice recognition technology.  Although much of the iPhone 4s' success can be attributed to its own natural language user interface Siri, its success can be attributed to the software's accuracy as much as its integration with other iOS applications.

In the demo video below, Kunal Batra, Deaftel's founder, admits that the service has a little ways to go in that  “the technology isn't perfect” and that “the time it takes for the voice to convert to text bothers [him] a little.”  That said, Deaftel is currently the only smartphone app of its kind.  Once the service's efficiency is improved, Deaftel could become the ubiquitous app for those who are hearing impaired.



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When Zach Davis isn't getting lost in the mountains, he is hustling from Boulder, CO as Tech Cocktail's Director of Marketing. He is the author of Appalachian Trials, a book chronicling the mindset necessary for thru-hiking all 2,181 miles of the Appalachian Trail, a feat he accomplished in 2011. Zach is a green tea enthusiast, die-hard Chicago sports fan, and avid concert-goer. Follow Zach on Twitter: @zrdavis.