Tech Talk #1: Skype and My-Call-To-Text

Ladies and Gentlemen. Two major things I need to tell you. I’ll be putting out a series of tech talks as they come in the next few weeks. This is the first one of many.

Skype finally has subtitles! Hallelujah!

Being the curious person I am, I decided to try out Skype for the first time in what feels like forever. For those who are technologically challenged (which can be me in some cases), it’s highly recommended that you upgrade your Skype to the latest available version.

This is a game changer people. You can have actual conversations with friends who don’t have a hearing loss. This will even apply to potential medical services that are available via Skype (i.e. counselors). Best part is: it’s FREE.

PC: Microsoft Skype Blog 

Words of caution though – the subtitles will need to take some time to adjust to your voice, and work out the accuracy level. Give it a little bit of time. Best part is, you don’t feel like you’re missing out on group chats either!

To get subtitles, simply go to Settings, look up the ‘calling’ feature and turn on your subtitles feature. Remember to upgrade to the latest version!

PC: Microsoft Skype Blog

Imagine my excitement when I saw those three magic words… “Turning subtitles on…”

The next piece of exciting news is…

My Call to Text App!

I quite enjoyed this app – the first hour of chat is free, but after that there’s a monthly fee (how much that costs, I’m still figuring that out). I tried it out with a friend of mine and it was quite easy to follow the conversation. The app was used to her voice, and actually had some trouble understanding me (hey, maybe it needs to recognize the deaf accent?).  In other words, when both of us were using the app – it worked great! See below for a quick transcript of our conversation. Oh yeah. You can save transcripts… great for those calls where you need to refer back to important details, like addresses or a set time that you’re expected to be there.

What’s great about this app is that you can use it on your side and call any number on your phone. For example, we tried it on the hearing husband of my friend (who had NO idea we were testing this app out) – he was talking on his cell phone and the app simply translated everything for us in real time. One thing though: the app lets the ‘hearing’ caller on the other end know that there is a deaf/hard of hearing person using a speech to text app prior to transcription.

Some initial benefits that I can see with the My Call To Text app is how handy it can be for those who need to book medical appointments (not all medical facilities are able to communicate via email due to privacy restrictions), or for those who want to keep in touch with loved ones not just by social media.

However – like all technology, there are few drawbacks that I can see with the app:

  • There’s no clear partnership with cell phone carriers –  the feature should be available across all cell phones for full access, much like how google maps is!
  • The cost (rumor has it that it’s $8/month) is expensive. There’s no option to charge per minute, much like how carriers charge for specific features.
  • I can’t tell if the app will automatically ‘turn’ on if a ‘hearing’ person calls me. That’s where my $8/month goes = setting up a voicemail call-to-text.
  • Multi-use applicability. I can see this feature being useful for conference calls, but that’s something that needs to be tested. Also. Podcast and other audio shows could be included in the features… hmm.. another way for Phonak to market the app?!

I would totally recommend this app if costs were subsidized, or at least adjusted a bit to tailor the needs of it’s clients. It’s great to have on hand if you’re thinking of entering the workplace where you know you’ll have to answer the phone quite a bit. Baby steps to breaking barriers with the telephone – which as we all know can be a thorn in the side for all D/HH people.