ATU355 – Apps that every person who is Deaf or Hard of Hearing must have – Greg Gantt, Indiana Relay

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Your weekly dose of information that keeps you up to date on the latest developments in the field of technology designed to assist people with disabilities and special needs.

**Want the interview in ASL? Check out this YouTube link: https://youtu.be/jfoufzfYpEQ

355-03-16-18 – Apps that every person who is Deaf or Hard of Hearing must have – Greg Gantt, Indiana Relay (Andy Rork interpreting)
www.relayindiana.com | greg.gantt@relayindiana.com
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——-transcript follows ——

GREG GANTT: [Andy Rork interpreting] Hi, this is Greg Gantt.  I am the community outreach director for InTRAC Relay Indiana, and this is your Assistive Technology Update.

WADE WINGLER:  Hi, this is Wade Wingler with the INDATA Project at Easter Seals Crossroads in Indiana with your Assistive Technology Update, a weekly dose of information that keeps you up-to-date on the latest developments in the field of technology designed to assist people with disabilities and special needs. Welcome to episode number 355 of Assistive Technology Update.  It’s scheduled to be released on March 16, 2018.

So today we are doing something a little bit different.  We are going to talk about apps that every person who is Deaf or Hard of Hearing must have.  In the intro to the interview, you will hear me talk about our show notes and why those are important.  I want to tell you, if you never check our show notes, here’s what you need to do.  If you’re using a device that shows your podcast on your screen, or gives you access to it that way, look in the notes section of the podcast or under the lyrics tab.  Usually in your app you can find the show notes.  If you can’t find them there, it’s easy to go on the web and get those as well.  You can head on over to EasterSealsTech.com and just scroll down or search for the Assistive Technology Update episode.  This is episode 355.  If you just search for 355 on the website, you’ll see it.

The things we include in the show notes are a lot of stuff actually.  It’s contact information for our guests, a few words about the apps and things we talk about.  And then typically when you scroll down to the bottom of the show notes, you’ll find a full transcript of the entire show which helps you to read what happened and is a good accommodation for people who rely on text transcripts of our audio podcast content.

I’m going to talk about that more in the interview and why that’s particularly important when we have our guest a Greg Gantt who is with Indiana Relay.  She does our interview in American Sign Language.  Check our show notes.  Find them on the website at EasterSealsTech.com.  Also we love to hear from you on our listener line.  The number is 317-721-7124.  Or shoot us a note on Twitter@INDATA Project.

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WADE WINGLER:  Okay you guys, today we are doing something super cool and a little bit different than we have done in the past.  If you looked at the headline of the episode, you know that we are going to talk about apps that are important to people who are blind or Hard of Hearing.  Although we’ve been transcribing our shows for a long time, today is the first time we are going to do an ASL, or American Sign Language, primary interview on our audio podcast.  I reached out to one of my friends Greg Gantt who is with Indiana Relay here in Indianapolis, Indiana, and said, “Greg, could you come in and talk with us a little bit about apps that are important for people who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing.” He said, “Yeah, we can do that.”

So we started thinking about the logistics of an ASL primary interview today, and we thought we need to do a couple of things.  We will obviously have the transcript of the show release that the time or shortly after the show comes out.  We are also going to have a YouTube video that shows Greg interviewing an ASL.  So if you want to see ASL or if that is your primary language, go to the links in the show notes to the YouTube video and you can see us in studio and get the ASL version of what we are doing.

I will edit the interview just a little bit.  There may be some silence in the interview as we do the interpreting process, so I may edit a little bit of that out, but really you won’t know because you are hearing it now post edit.  Also we are joined today by Andy Rork who is providing interpreting services.  Thank you for being with us, Andy.  He will be voicing for Greg today.

Okay.  I think that’s the housekeeping stuff.  Now I can actually conduct an interview.  First and foremost, Greg, thank you for coming and being in our studio today.  We are so excited to have you.

GREG GANTT:  Thank you too.  Thank you for the invitation and the opportunity to be here and to be able to share information on communication technology for Deaf and Hard of Hearing people.  It’s just a pleasure to be here.

WADE WINGLER:  One of the first questions I want to know is, Greg, people don’t know you — and I’ve known you for a couple of years now.  Tell us a little bit about you, your background, and what you do for a living, and then we will get into apps and technology here in a minute.

GREG GANTT:  Sure.  I grew up here in Indiana.  I’ve lived here my whole life.  I attended Gallaudet University where I majored in business administration.  After that I’ve worked with in the Deaf community.  I’ve worked at Deaf community services for seven years in different capacities, and then I worked for the state Deaf and Hard of Hearing services as a program director.  I worked for Sprint Relay when Relay first began in 1990.  I worked for Sprint for about 10 or 11 years, and then from there I went to my current position has community relations outreach for InTRAC, which is an agency that provides Relay Indiana services and has for the past 11 years.

WADE WINGLER:  Greg, not everybody in our audience is going to be familiar with Relay and those kinds of things.  Can you tell us just a quick piece about what a Relay service is and does?

GREG GANTT:  Sure.  A Relay service is a catchall term for a lot of different services.  There are Relay services out there that provide technology access for Deaf and Hard of Hearing people or speech impaired people, to people who use regular telephones.  When the Americans with Disabilities Act, or the ADA, was enacted in 1990, we had technology at the time called a TTY or TDD, which was a teletype device, that was a godsend back then.  It enabled us in the Deaf community to be able to make phone calls through a third person who worked as a Relay operator.  They would read what we typed and then they would voice that to a hearing person over a regular telephone and then what type back the responses from the hearing person.  That was great back then, but as technology changes and involves, there are different forms of Relay.  Now we have what’s called video Relay services — and we also have voice recognition Relay and so forth.  Again, for the purposes of Relay services, they are to provide communication access between a Deaf and Hard of Hearing person or speech impaired person to a hearing person via telephone.

WADE WINGLER:  I want you to think back to the first time an app or technology made a really big impact on your life.  Tell me about that, the first time you went, “Wow! This technology is a game changer.”

GREG GANTT:  Talking about apps — and may be a way to explain that is what technology really impacted communication was a text messaging.  Originally there were these Wintel devices, it was a text only pager that was a game changer for the Deaf community.  Everybody got them.  Over time, and now those things have fallen into apps.  I would say for a signing Deaf person, FaceTime definitely has been the big game changer.  It’s a visual, you can see each other signing.  That really changed the game and led to a lot of other technologies and apps that go along with a video for people who sign.

WADE WINGLER:  Excellent.  So I know that in the world of assistive technology, the iPhone alone has made a huge impact on people with disabilities.  But I wonder where that fits into the Deaf and Hard of Hearing communities.  Does the smart phone — whether it is an iPhone or Android, I don’t really care.  But are there things about a smartphone by itself that are really important?

GREG GANTT:  Yeah.  Smart phones, whether it is an iPhone or Android, I think is one the biggest game changers, not just in our lives of button Deaf and Hard of Hearing lives as well.  It hasn’t necessarily leveled the playing field, but it’s made it really close.  It has really evened out the game.  It’s close to that communication got.  Before texting and smart phones, we had to rely on TTY’s.  We had to rely on interpreters and neighbors.  It made our Deafness a very pronounced, very noticeable.  But with texting, with smart phones, people don’t know that I’m Deaf if I’m walking along texting somebody, or if I’m using my phone just as anybody else would.  With more and more apps that are coming out, the video apps that are coming out, speech recognition apps, all of these things have really level the playing field and close that communication got.

WADE WINGLER:  When you talk about just a smartphone in general and communication tools, I get that.  I also have a number of Deaf friends I interact with on social media, and I’ve experience in that, because I don’t sign, my level of engagement with those friends changes on Facebook and other social media platforms because of that more level playing field.  Has that been your experience too, or is that just me as a hearing guy?

WADE WINGLER:  I would definitely vouch for that. Because with Facebook or Instagram or any of the other social media outlets, it doesn’t matter if you are Deaf or Hard of Hearing. I end up talking more with hearing people, where before I wouldn’t have.  I have friends who are heavily involved with a modeling club that builds model and able to communicate with people all over the world.  I can’t imagine that happening before things like Facebook and social media.  So yeah, Facebook, Instagram, although social media outlets have really changed the game.

WADE WINGLER:  Let’s talk about apps.  We said we were going to talk about a number of apps that every person who is Deaf or Hard of Hearing should either have or know about.  Let’s start going through those.  Give me an app that you think every person who is Deaf or Hard of Hearing should either have or know about.

WADE WINGLER:  Okay.  I can categories them into different categories for signing Deaf people or Deaf or Hard of Hearing people who don’t sign.  For signing Deaf people, I think one of the most important apps we’ve already mentioned is FaceTime.  That one has really changed the game. There are several other apps that are for video Relay purposes where I can open up the app and I can call either somebody who signs the directly, or I can go through a Relay service to talk to somebody who doesn’t sign.  So I don’t have to secure or have a standalone unit in front of me with a monitor and WebCam.  I can call you, Wade, from my phone just with the built-in camera.  There are three companies that provide video Relay.  There is Sprint, Convo — not Spring, I’m sorry. Z Video Relay Service, Convo, and Sorensen. Those are the three major companies that provide video Relay service, and they provide apps for that. A fourth technology like that would be FaceTime.  There is also an app called Glide.  The ironic thing about Glide, when I first came out, people who invented Glide envisioned it for hearing people to talk to each other, and they were shocked that the Deaf community really grabbed it and took it as a main app, to the point where the Glide administration had been involved with the Deaf community for the past few years to get feedback and changes to their app.  If you’re not familiar with Glide, it is a video where you can record yourself and send it via messages.  It is not live but is rather a video message that I can send to somebody else.  And then if you have Glide, you can open it up and see it and respond back.  It’s like a video text messaging.  There is another similar app called Marco Polo, which is very similar.  Marco Polo is a little bit newer, and Deaf people now are going to both.  I have them both on my phone.  We mentioned FaceTime.  Snapchat is another one, but that is typically for the younger generation.  I don’t use Snapchat as often, but I do monitor Snapchat and some of its possibilities. Those are pretty much the apps for the signing Deaf community.

For people who are Hard of Hearing, we have a technology called CapTel, which means captioned telephone.  There is an app along with that where you can make a phone call to a hearing person for Hard of Hearing persons who can speak for themselves but they can’t hear over the phone.  So when the hearing person response back, it will have a voice recognition with a readout so they can read the captioning.  There is also another app for those who still prefer to type through the Relay service, there is Sprint IP Relay, which is an app you can download on your phone to use the good old typing back and forth technology.  There are less and less standalone video units and more apps that are coming out for your smart phones or iPads, your tablets. CapTel still has some stand-alone units for people who still prefer to use those.

WADE WINGLER:  Excellent.  So those apps are all specific to interpersonal communication and those kinds of things.  Are there any other apps that you find that you use every day related to your Deafness or sign language use that are important?

GREG GANTT:  Every morning with my cup of coffee, I get on different news outlets to see what’s going on in the world.  There are Deaf news websites.  There is one called The Daily Moth which is news presented in American sign language.  I do take a look at those.  Before me personally, I use apps that I just mentioned for communication.  Other people keep up on Facebook and things like that.  And of course, there are games.  Scrabble, which I like to play.

WADE WINGLER:  Words with Friends.  Do you play Words With Friends?

GREG GANTT:  Exactly.

WADE WINGLER:  Said me a request. I’ll play you.  You’ll win because I’m horrible at it.  But I like to play.

GREG GANTT:  I’m equally horrible.  I have several friends who are starting to question my word knowledge.

WADE WINGLER:  Where do you learn about apps? Is this word-of-mouth, people talking about it? Is there a website you go to?

GREG GANTT:  I learned about a through a variety of different ways.  In my line of work, I am often on the cutting edge of technology that is coming out for Deaf people and communication and in my past jobs with Sprint.  I kind of know what is on the horizon, what’s coming down the pipe.  However, I’d also do learn from friends and through the grapevine.  Marco Polo I didn’t know about until a friend of mine told me about it.  Yeah, it’s accommodation of both.  What was the other part of that question?

WADE WINGLER:  Are there websites are places you go online to look for them?

GREG GANTT:  I don’t think there are any specific websites that are dedicated to Deaf apps that I’m aware of.  But again, Deaf people are very resourceful, and we just find ways to navigate life, especially through Facebook sharing and things like that.

WADE WINGLER:  It’s interesting, you mentioned Marco Polo.  My 21-year-old daughter and my wife and her friends are all starting to do Marco Polo.  I have it on my phone as well, and I get requests, but so far I’ve been ignoring them.  I just haven’t been responding to them.  I see that coming up as being more popular as well.

GREG GANTT:  For sure.

WADE WINGLER:  What’s on your wish list for an ideal app? Whether it is Deaf related or not, what is your number one wish for an app that would make a huge difference in your life?

GREG GANTT:  Four me, it’s a device or technology that I can bring with me to where I can interact — and no offense to Andy — where I can interact with you directly without having to have an interpreter or third person.  Bless all the interpreters that are out there that are working, but a lot of time that third person can be disorienting.  Most of the time hearing people are communicating one on one, and when you pull in a third person — some people are fine with it, but other people aren’t.  It can be awkward and uncomfortable.  It would be nice if you and I could directly communicate without having to use an interpreter.  I’ve seen some technology out there at different conferences.  It’s a hologram where you would have an interpreter and hologram form, but it’s still in its extreme infancy.  There is potential there, and the idea that you would be able to pull up and interpreting hologram, and I would be able to see the hologram signing.  There is that.  Another thing would be a voice to text technology where you can just talk, and it would consistently recognize what you are saying.  The question is how would by signing be recognized to have voice.  There is work being done out there to be able to interpret from signing into voice.  There are people who have had the monitors on their bodies as they are signing.  Using technology like that to capture signing.  My dream would be the ideal app, whatever it looks like, would be something that enables you and I to communicate directly without having to use an interpreter.

WADE WINGLER:  It might be worth a quick piece of conversation here.  We don’t call it sign language translation.  It’s called interpreting for a reason, because it’s not directly one-on-one.  If we have audience members who aren’t familiar with how American Sign Language works, it’s not simply the same as reading a transcript or a one to one.  Part of the reason it is hard to make an app that does that is because there is a human touch.  There is a linguistic piece that needs to happen.  Tell me just a little bit about that, if you would.

GREG GANTT:  You bring up a very valid point.  What I just stated for that one on one communication app, if it’s somebody that I know that I have a business relationship with or a familiar relationship personally, there is that.  But if there is a bigger audience, if there is more than one person, you might need an interpreter.  If I have a doctor’s appointment and we are talking about some medical terms, maybe having an interpreter would be more ideal than trying to navigate or trying to capture all of those medical technologies.  Mental health counseling, depending on the situation.  A presentation where there is an audience, and being able to have an interpreter reflect the tone of the speaker is a very valuable — that human touch.  That’s something that you can never get rid of.  It will always have to be an option down the road.

WADE WINGLER:  This morning in our interaction, before we started recording, is a good example.  I signed just a tiny bit, and I was able to figure out you wanted some coffee and I was able to get that angry you and those kinds of things.  You and I know each other and have for a long time, so we can sort of get by in that way with my limited sign.  Before this interview, no way.  We absolutely have to have an interpreter. I think that’s a pretty good example that we have just lived out this morning.

GREG GANTT:  Exactly.

WADE WINGLER:  Another quick technology question.  Is there a technology that is almost there that is getting pretty good, and you think you just need a little bit more to get good? Is there any stuff that you think is almost a game changer?

GREG GANTT:  There is a lot of technology out there that is already out there, but there are other things that could be tweaked or improved upon.  Closed captioning, for example.  It’s such an important tool that we use, but it’s not 100 percent accurate.  There are so many shows or commercials that aren’t captioned, or the captioning doesn’t work correctly.  Sometimes the captioning is delayed.  I mean, we are in 2018 and we can put a man on the moon, but we still can’t figure out a way to fix how to caption things correctly.  In an ideal situation, everything would be captioned, all TV shows, everything.  And I’m sure we are going to get there.  I’m sure eventually we’ll get there. It’s the same for the Internet.  When I’m looking on the Internet, there are so many wonderful things that close the communication gap, but at the same time there are things that don’t close the communication gap at all.  Internet videos are not caption.  There are some that are, and I’ve noticed some improvements where there is a closed captioning option, but we are not there yet.

Looking back to before Internet copy for the ADA, yeah, we’ve definitely come a long way, but we do still have a long ways to go.

WADE WINGLER:  I think the format we are using today is an example of that.  Podcasts, there aren’t a lot of Deaf friendly transcribed podcast.  We do our best to make sure that we are approaching that as appropriately as we can, but I think that is another area of content that isn’t.  Or set me straight, if I’m wrong about that.  But there aren’t podcasts that are Deaf friendly.

GREG GANTT:  You are absolutely right.  Podcasts are for into a Deaf person’s vocabulary.  I don’t think most Deaf people even know what a podcast is because it is audio based.  Most of the time there may be a few — there are a few out there that I command, like NPR.  They have transcribed podcast which I do take a look at.  But you are right, podcasts are for into Deaf people.  I’m so excited to be in this situation now to have the opportunity to be part of a podcast, not just for the hearing people out there who are listening, but for Deaf people to realize that we can make this work too.

WADE WINGLER:  It’s still a fairly new word in English.  Is there a sign for podcast?

GREG GANTT:  There is not.  We finger spell it.  Sometimes we say radio podcast couple we have to finger spell the word podcast.

WADE WINGLER:  What is your advice for somebody who is Deaf or Hard of Hearing and just doesn’t want to embrace technology? Maybe it is somebody who is very young and isn’t interested in technology or somebody who might be older.  But if people just say no, I’m Deaf or Hard of Hearing, and I’m not into technology, what advice would you have for them?

GREG GANTT:  Again, there are groups of people.  Young people blow me away with their knowledge of technology.  Cell phones have been part of their entire lives, and it’s an option at their disposal and it’s always been.  There are different ways people can communicate.  Some people prefer Snapchat, some people prefer texting.  It just depends on the person’s personal preference.  I’m pretty much limited and what I’m willing to do, but then there are those Deaf people who either aren’t interested in technology and need to learn about it, or there are people who may be our older in age who are trying to learn technology.  Otherwise, if they don’t, they are going to be left in the dust because technology is just advancing so rapidly.  Yeah, just a basic understanding of technology, texting at the very least.  I know some people who don’t text at all.  They still would rather use their old TTY.  I don’t know how much more you can coach them into using technology.

WADE WINGLER:  I’m sure there are people who are going to hear this interview and be excited about what we are doing today, and they are going to want to reach out to you.  Do you have any contact information you would like to provide so the people can reach out to you, learn more about you, ask questions, those kinds of things?

GREG GANTT:  Absolutely.  For more information on Relay Indiana, you can go to our website www.RelayIndiana.com. If you want to reach me directly, you can reach me through email at greg.gantt@relayindiana.com. If you want to call me, you can reach me at 317-542-3624. If you are hearing or Deaf, you can call that same phone number.  Again, this is another technology that is out there.  My phone number is in a user database that is recognized depending on the incoming call.  If I’m getting a direct a video call, it’ll automatically come to him a video call.  If you are hearing, it’ll automatically go through a video Relay service.  Either way, you can reach me at that number.

WADE WINGLER:  Greg, thank you so much for being on the show today.  Thanks for helping us walk through the logistics of working through the ASL and interpreting and those kinds of things.  Thank you also, Andy Rork, for interpreting and voicing for us today.

GREG GANTT:  Thank you too, Wade, for this opportunity to educate both the Deaf and Hard of Hearing and the hearing communities about these issues.  Thank you so much for the opportunity.

WADE WINGLER:  Do you have a question about assistive technology? Do you have a suggestion for someone we should interview on Assistive Technology Update? Call our listener line at 317-721-7124, shoot us a note on Twitter @INDATAProject, or check us out on Facebook. Looking for a transcript or show notes from today’s show? Head on over to www.EasterSealstech.com. Assistive Technology Update is a proud member of the Accessibility Channel. Find more shows like this plus much more over at AccessibilityChannel.com. That was your Assistance Technology Update. I’m Wade Wingler with the INDATA Project at Easter Seals Crossroads in Indiana.

***Transcript provided by TJ Cortopassi.  For requests and inquiries, contact tjcortopassi@gmail.com***