Communication for the deaf and hard-of-hearing can be a tricky proposition sometimes in a world of sound, but there are always great adaptations out there that can help bridge the interpretation gap. Cue the coronavirus pandemic: everyone is a wearing a mask these days and that has left those who could lip read a challenge to figure out if they're getting the messages they need.
Danny Hughes, a medic for the South East Coast Ambulance Service in the United Kingdom, found that he could use Google's Live Transcribe app to let patients know what he's saying.
— South East Coast Ambulance Service (@SECAmbulance) July 17, 2020
Advocates for those with hearing loss have been pushing for the institutional uptake of similar apps for years as well as other measures like masks with transparent panels (here's an Amazon link for you to get your own, we might earn commission on your click) so that wearers' lips and expressions are visible.
Live Transcribe processes language through the cloud, creating the trade-off of data privacy with a lessened performance toll on a user's phone. Hughes said that SEACS is performing due diligence on whether it can widely deploy Live Transcribe to its staff.
It has raised a few points surrounding data protection. As a service we are currently looking into this and whether it can be safely rolled out to all of our staff.🤞
So as a *disclaimer* you should make your own data protection / governance assessments for suitability. 🙂
— Danny Hughes (@SECAmb_Danny) July 17, 2020
Just one medic on Twitter might not make that much of an impact when it comes to deaf patients' outcomes during the pandemic, but it does give a signal boost to a priority that the hearing world hasn't really thought of.