Contributed by Debbie Clason, staff writer, Healthy Hearing
What do you get when you introduce a child with hearing loss to one of the apps below? Smiles, giggles and (shhh) learning.
We searched the world wide web to find apps for your smartphone and tablet that will teach, inspire, amuse and strengthen the special relationship between you and your favorite little learner. So read on, then log on and download your favorites. Let the learning begin.
Sign Language Apps
Baby Sign and Learn
iTunes, 4.0 stars, free (in-app purchases)
Google Play, 3.8 stars, $2.99
Babies and toddlers will love learning sign language from the animated characters in this application. Learning aids include animated videos, an interactive quiz and colorful flashcards. Supported sign languages include American Sign Language (ASL), Australian Sign Language (Auslan), British Sign Language (BSL), Hong Kong Sign Language (HKSL), and New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL).
My Smart Hands Baby Sign Language Dictionary
iOS app, 3.8 stars, $0.99
Parents and children can learn more than 300 ASL signs together with this instructional app. Includes 45 minutes of video, word search options, and a quiz portion. Created by My Smart Hands, an international sign language company with more than 150 instructors in over 10 countries.
Baby Sign and Sing
iTunes, 4.4 stars, free (in-app purchases)
Google Play, 4.2 stars, $2.99
Your toddler will enjoy singing and signing 10 popular nursery rhymes along with these animated characters. The app is separated into three sections—explore signs, play song, and watch tutorial—to make it both educational and enjoyable for parents and their children.
Note: The free version on iTunes comes with one nursery rhyme (Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star) and an option to purchase nine others.
Reading and entertainment
Purchase any of the 19 storytelling apps by Gallaudet University, and your money will goes to a good cause: All the revenue is used to develop more storytelling apps for children with hearing loss. Each of the stories is told in ASL and English, using proven research on bilingualism and visual learning. Children will love the easy navigation and original watercolor artwork. Parents will appreciate the 170-word ASL glossary.
Apps are available for iOS devices. Each title is $4.99. Some titles are also available in Russian, Dutch, Arabic, Italian and Japanese.
Here are a few of our favorite titles:
iTunes, 4.4 stars, $4.99
In this engaging story, a curious little girl embarks on an adventure. This story is also available in several other languages.
The Boy Who Cried Wolf
iTunes, 4.7 stars, $4.99
Aesop’s beloved fairytale about a boy who cried wolf one too many times comes to life in English and ASL. Other familiar stories in the collection include The Little Airplane That Could, a variation of The Little Engine That Could.
The Solar System
iTunes, 5.0 stars, $4.99
In this educational narrative full of scientific facts, children learn about our eight planets, moon and sun. The illustrations and visual narration allow for self-directed reading and learning.
Speech and Language Development
Splingo’s Language Universe
iTunes, 2.8 stars $2.99
Splingo is a bright, bouncy orange alien who has other alien friends in this highly interactive game. Splingo gives spoken instructions, which are also visible on the screen. As children complete little tasks, they are given a new piece to help build Splingo’s spaceship so he can fly home.
Splingo’s Language Universe, developed by speech and language therapists and pathologists to help children with listening and language skills, has four different levels to accommodate children between 18 months and four years of age. The app is customizable so you can combine levels and select word types for your child’s needs.
iTunes, 2.6 stars, free
Google Play, 4.2 stars, free
Hear Coach is a suite of listening games developed by Starkey Hearing Technologies that features games designed to improve the ability of the user to understand speech in noisy environments. The app tracks progress and unlocks more difficult levels as performance improves, each with its own background noise stimulus to train the auditory system in different listening environments.
Other apps for hearing loss
If you or a loved one has hearing loss or are concerned about noise levels, see our other articles on apps:
These apps can be very helpful in specific situations, but they are not a replacement for good hearing healthcare or properly fit hearing aids. If you suspect you or your child has hearing loss and need to find a hearing healthcare practitioner in your community, please visit our directory of consumer-reviewed hearing clinics.