Posted on: 6 June 2016
When it comes to technology assisting a child with hearing loss, it needn't stop at their hearing aid device. As long as you have access to a smartphone or tablet, your baby or toddler can also benefit from a wide range of fun (and often free) apps that use sign language and picture games to assist their development.
If you have a young child who is deaf or hard of hearing, the following apps can help to educate and entertain them in equal measure. Here's a rundown of some of the best kinds to look out for.
Sign language dictionary apps
As the name suggests, these apps help to teach your child hundreds of Australian sign language (ASL) signs using fun quizzes and instructional videos to help them memorize each unique sign. For parents of both hearing and non-hearing children, these kind of apps are ideal for teaching very young children how to express themselves and put across their needs before they are able to speak.
Many of these dictionary sign apps are created by international sign language companies and as such, a wide variety of instructors are available to make things easy. Since your child can have fun and be visually encouraged and rewarded for their progress, this kind of app is a great bonding tool. Furthermore, you can be put at ease to know that your child will feel confident and better equipped to express themselves upon starting school.
Listening game apps
These apps test your child's listening abilities for those who are hard of hearing. For those with hearing loss, trying to focus on specific sounds or voices in a noisy environment is one of the most challenging aspects of daily life. Helpfully, listening apps can help children fine tune this skill through a series of fun listening games. These games are set at different difficulty levels to test your child's ability to pick up sounds in different types of noisy environments.
As well as helping children fine tune their natural hearing ability, these listening apps are also designed to help children who may have been recently fitted with new hearing aid devices and may be facing difficulty adjusting to them. These fun games can help your child get the most out of their hearing aids, in the hope that they won't need to turn up the volume on their device unless completely necessary.
Visual story apps
Thanks to these kind of apps, parents of hard of hearing children needn't miss out on the important bonding ritual of story time. These interactive apps can be a delightful teaching tool for your child as they absorb language through fun and engaging storytelling. What's more, your child can choose from hundreds of popular children's titles, allowing them to interact with some of their favourite characters as they learn.
Recently, story apps for mobile and tablet devices have begun to add a sign language mode to their games and this has opened up new ways in which children with hearing loss can learn to read. Some story apps, for example, will give your child the option of having adult narration so they can have the story read to them, a purely sign language mode or a silent mode which allows for self-reading. In any case, text will always be on screen to let you and your child follow the story together. Clear and ever-present text also allows your child to constantly make associations between the words they are reading and what they can see.
Hopefully, the aforementioned apps can enable your child to express themselves and let them have fun in the process. As well as using apps to improve your child's hearing, always ensure that their hearing aids are comfortable and of high quality. If your child is struggling with a new fitting or experiences discomfort with their current device, don't hesitate to get them checked or repaired at your local medical clinic.Share