Closed Captioning Apps for Cell Phones

The modern cell phone has become our portable wallet, computer, camera, email, music source, and address book all wrapped up in one shiny device.  If you’re the parent or grandparent of a teenager, you may lament the pervasive nature of this artificial appendage and you may join many others in being concerned about the cell phone’s impact on our collective ability to communicate. For people wearing hearing aids, however, a smart phone is a tool that improves communication with an ease and convenience that is unrivaled.
One feature that turns a cell phone into a powerful communication tool for the hearing impaired, is closed captioning apps. Closed Captioning (CC) is a system that displays text on a screen to give the viewer information about what is happening. Closed captioning differs from subtitles in the depth of information given. Subtitles are used to translate dialogue from one language to another and closed captioning provides descriptions of audio information like music and sound effects, in addition to a transcription of dialogue. The more detailed information is geared towards people with hearing loss.
There are two types of captioning. Closed captioning must be activated by the user to be visible. Most of us are aware of the CC button on our tv remote which allows us to activate closed captioning. Open captioning describes captions that are visible to all viewers and are a permanent part of the show, film or video.
One of the biggest adaptation challenges for hearing-aid users is processing speech in conversations with multiple speakers or with loud background noises. Dynamic conversations and loud noises are the hallmarks of many of our favorite shows, movies and life moments, so closed captioning was introduced to improve the experience. Mobile closed captioning takes it to the next level.
Everyone’s technological sensibilities are different, so here are a few options to explore for your personal mobile captioning needs:

  1. Subtitle Viewer – For viewing: This is a free app for iOS users. iOS is an operating system developed by Apple for its devices (iPads, iPhones, etc.). If you have an Apple smartphone, download this free app and it will synch to whatever you’re watching. Available in over 20 languages, including English, Spanish, German and Italian.
  2. ClearCaptions – For phone calls: This app is free to qualified users and can be used with both iOS and Android operating systems. If your phone has a voice and data plan, you will see the captioned transcription and hear the call at the same time. If your phone only has a data plan, you will get captions of the call content.
  3. Live Caption – For life away from our gadgets: The Live Caption app will transcribe face-to-face conversations in real time. This app is available for both iOS and Android and costs less than $5. Once downloaded, people can speak directly into your phone and their comments will be turned into captions.

For a comprehensive list of captioning options, visit 3PlayMedia’s list of “What Apps and Smart Phones are Caption Friendly?” For questions about which apps are compatible with your hearing aid, please schedule a consultation with us.


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