Dr. Nicky Chong-White, Principal Engineer at National Acoustic Laboratories, shares how this live speech captioning tool makes conversations more accessible for people with hearing difficulties, even in background noise or at a distance.
Introducing NALscribe, a valuable live speech captioning mobile app that recently won a Hearing Technology Innovator Award! This award is a testament to our team’s commitment to innovation and our dedication to improving the lives of those with hearing loss.
We developed NALscribe during the COVID-19 pandemic when we recognised the additional difficulties posed by facemasks, social distancing and protective screens on everyday communication. These factors presented challenges for many people, but especially for individuals with hearing loss, causing anxiety, frustration and isolation.
Our goal was to create a solution that was not only effective at improving communication but also accessible and easy to use. The result was NALscribe, a live speech captioning mobile app designed specifically to bridge the communication gap that often isolates individuals with hearing loss.
NALscribe is not only free to download but is also free from usage fees, thereby promoting wider hearing accessibility and inclusivity for all.
How NALscribe works
NALscribe works by providing real-time captioning of spoken words using state-of-the-art automatic speech recognition technology, making conversations more accessible for people with hearing loss. We developed the app through a design thinking process, incorporating extensive feedback from users, their families, and hearing care professionals.
With a simple, intuitive interface, NALscribe is designed for ease-of-use in diverse situations.
Below are some features that make this app especially beneficial.
- Adjustable font sizes for better readability – Offering a notable advantage over other apps where the text size can often be too small for real-time conversation.
- Operates effectively both online and offline – Providing optimal transcription accuracy, while ensuring privacy and availability even when internet access is limited.
- Ability to save transcripts – Empowering users to review, edit, and share conversations later, ensuring that important details are not forgotten.
- Supports multiple languages – Fostering improved communication within diverse cultural communities.
- Incorporates a privacy-focused auto-erase feature – Safeguarding privacy because it clears captions from the screen after a set period.
NALscribe’s reach and acceptance
Since its launch, NALscribe has been embraced by a wide user base. The app has been downloaded by over 27,000 users across 60 countries, underlining its wide acceptance and effectiveness. This widespread adoption highlights the universal need for innovative solutions in hearing technology and motivates us to continue our work.
Notably, it’s being used within hearing service organizations globally, including many cochlear implant clinics, a testament to its efficacy and practicality in real-world settings. This makes NALscribe more than just an invention; it’s a practical innovation that’s changing lives around the world.
NALscribe has seen practical application across diverse scenarios. Its usage in managing appointments, retaining conversation details, and reconnecting family communication, emphasizes the app’s significant impact.
The feedback we receive from users around the world is especially heartwarming, and is what spurs us on to keep going!
R.W, a NALscribe user, says, “We just came across your app yesterday and just want to say a huge Thank You… it will transform his life and give us all more interaction and access to our father and grandfather.”
Another user shares, “I also recently used it when my 88-year-old aunt who lives in Canada lost all her hearing suddenly and is unlikely to receive a cochlear implant. I downloaded it to her iPhone, and she has learned to use it well. It is a lifeline to her now and she is so very grateful, as are her family, that she can use this easily to keep her connected.”
We are committed to ensuring NALscribe meets the evolving needs of our users, and also to creating new innovations to improve accessibility and enhance communication for individuals with hearing loss.
Find out more about NALscribe here, and download for free: https://www.nal.gov.au/nal_products/talk-to-text-app/