Deaf and hard-of-hearing people don’t have to miss out on the conversation anymore.
Thibault Ducheminis can hear perfectly. But he grew up in a completely deaf family. Growing up in both the deaf and hearing cultures, he experienced a huge gap in communication. “For 24 years living in-between, I’ve shared the confusion. Observed the isolation. Felt the frustration,” said Duchemin. He saw that deaf and hard-of-hearing people don’t have full access to social and professional lives.
Here’s the problem: for the hearing-impaired, group conversations can be very hard to follow. This makes work meetings, group gatherings, social outings, even grabbing a cup of coffee isolating and stressful. Deaf and hard-of-hearing people are missing out.
Solving this problem isn’t cheap. Effective hearing aids cost up to $5,000. Using a professional translator can be $120 for just an hour. “Talk about an expensive coffee meeting,” said Duchemin. As a result, the problem has gone unsolved.
Enter Ava, an app designed to bridge the gap between the hearing, deaf, and hard-of-hearing.
Think of Ava as real-life subtitling. It’s an Audio visual aid (hence the name “Ava”). The app “listens” to group conversations and then transcribes them visually. Users can follow conversations in real-time and read who is speaking. No one misses out.
According to Ava’s website, the app “turns smartphones in a room into smart microphones, allowing the deaf/hard-of-hearing person to read the entire conversation as real-time captions.” It takes less than a second to transcribe.
Thanks to Ava, 24/7 accessibility is becoming more attainable- not to mention much cheaper. On November 16, 2016, Ava closed a 1.8M round of funding, allowing the company to move forward with their goal.
“While Ava isn’t always getting what people say right, it’s a definite leap from no accessibility at all. And it’s just the beginning: Ava gets smarter as time goes, learning to distinguish your voice better everyday,” reads Ava’s website. “We’ll be happy when you are.”
Watch Ava’s video below and tweet @StarterNoise to let us know what you think about Ava.
Kenzi is a Milwaukee-based social media mogul. She was honored and humbled when awarded with the title “Best Midwestern Blogger of 2015” by one of her aunts on Facebook. Kenzi’s time in the startup world is spent blogging about wine, taking pictures of children on leashes, and FaceTiming her dogs like any other young professional in her field.