Accessibility Ideas All Over CES

Along with more than 115,000 others, I recently attended the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. It was incredible to see the latest innovations in all areas of consumer technology—including Hearing Tech. I enjoyed discussing the future of hearing health care with other advocates and influencers in a roundtable sponsored by GN Resound, and seeing the latest trends in all types of consumer products in the expos.

It was non-stop. Thrilling. And exhausting.

Given the tremendous listening effort—particularly in the reverberant and noisy halls of the expo—my brain was mush at the end of the day. I survived by requesting and using accommodations when available, pacing myself, and of course, caffeine! Plus, I had good company—my pal and Hear & Beyond co-author Gael Hannan.

Shari & Gael beneath a large sign at CES.

Technology Often Improves Accessibility

While I was primarily there for the Hearing Tech, it was fun to wander through the various expos to see what caught my eye. Everywhere I turned there was innovation, creativity, and hustle. It was energizing and inspiring.

The accessibility market was not top of mind for most of the exhibitors, but it was for me. As I took in each new product, my mind jumped to all the ways people with disabilities could use it to make their lives a little bit easier.

Here are some examples:

Astro: Alexa on wheels

Amazon’s adorable dog-like robot named Astro uses voice recognition to carry out simple commands. It can do silly things like imitating animal sounds but also potentially useful things like performing wellness checks on aging adults, babies, or family members with disabilities.

Kizik: Hands-free slip-on sneakers

Kizik’s hand-free sneakers slip on easily and do not require tying or even bending down. While not specifically targeting the accessibility market, you can see how a product like this could bring increased independence to those with dexterity or other mobility challenges.

Accessible makeup

Beauty and wellness were hot markets featuring new hairdryers, anti-aging skincare regimens, and 20-minute teeth whitening products. But what caught my eye was a computer-generated way to try out makeup without applying it to your face. Perhaps this could help those with sensory sensitivities or allergies try out a new look.

Here I am trying one of the decorative face paint options. Perhaps it is not my best look! : )

Nova: Earrings with sound

There were many headphones on display, each with its own claim of better speech enhancement or music enjoyment. But Nova caught my eye given its unique form factor. Nova are clip-on earrings designed as a headphone alternative. They stream music and because they have both a microphone and receiver in each one, they can be used for phone calls too. While not geared specifically to people with hearing loss, perhaps they could provide a fun and fashionable alternative to AirPods Pro for situational listening assistance.

Universal Design Helps Everyone

Accessibility was featured in only one small part of the many expos at CES, but I saw it everywhere. Technology that helps people with disabilities usually benefits others as well and vice versa. The future looks bright.

Readers, what is your favorite hearing tech tool?

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Book: Hear & Beyond: Live Skillfully with Hearing Loss

9 thoughts on “Accessibility Ideas All Over CES

  1. What TV and movies offer CC. So many good shows are not CC. Any suggestions for apps that teach lip reading? Yes I try to stay up on ways to help my hearing loss. Love reading your newsletter. My older sister just started wearing hearing aids and called to say. “I now realize what you’ve been going through these years…”. Thanks for your help

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a passionate hearing health advocate and internationally recognized author and speaker on hearing loss issues. She is the founder of Living with Hearing Loss, a popular blog and online community for people with hearing loss, and an executive producer of "We Hear You," an award-winning documentary about the hearing loss experience. Her book, "Hear & Beyond: Live Skillfully with Hearing Loss," (co-authored with Gael Hannan) is the ultimate survival guide to living well with hearing loss. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, she will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      In the US, all television programs should be captioned when CC is enabled on your television set. In my experience, this is true for the streaming services as well, although you need to turn the captions on for each service separately. You can also stream content in the Chrome browser to use their built in captioning feature. Thanks for your question and for reading the blog!

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a passionate hearing health advocate and internationally recognized author and speaker on hearing loss issues. She is the founder of Living with Hearing Loss, a popular blog and online community for people with hearing loss, and an executive producer of "We Hear You," an award-winning documentary about the hearing loss experience. Her book, "Hear & Beyond: Live Skillfully with Hearing Loss," (co-authored with Gael Hannan) is the ultimate survival guide to living well with hearing loss. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, she will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      Yes, but fewer than expected maybe since the rule was recently finalized and companies probably need to book a booth well in advance. Nuheara and Eargo were there. Thanks for your question.

  2. on page 106 of your helpful, interesting, well written book Hear and Beyond you mention external microphones attached to a smartphone to help it hear the dialogue better. Please give me an example of this microphone. I have three techie grandsons who are marvelous with my hearing loss and yet have no clue what you are writing about.

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a passionate hearing health advocate and internationally recognized author and speaker on hearing loss issues. She is the founder of Living with Hearing Loss, a popular blog and online community for people with hearing loss, and an executive producer of "We Hear You," an award-winning documentary about the hearing loss experience. Her book, "Hear & Beyond: Live Skillfully with Hearing Loss," (co-authored with Gael Hannan) is the ultimate survival guide to living well with hearing loss. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, she will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      Thanks for the question. Here is an example of an external microphone for iPhone. https://www.amazon.com/BOYA-Microphone-Lightning-Foldable-External/dp/B0B5WYPQSF/ref=sr_1_26

  3. My favorite hearing tech tool is my iPhone. I got my first iPhone last year and found out I could connect my hearing aids to it and I can hear phone calls and other things through my hearing aids. I was over the moon! My Mom and Aunt were both severely hearing impaired and I only wish they could have had this it would have been so much easier for them. It’s so marvelous what technology can do.

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a passionate hearing health advocate and internationally recognized author and speaker on hearing loss issues. She is the founder of Living with Hearing Loss, a popular blog and online community for people with hearing loss, and an executive producer of "We Hear You," an award-winning documentary about the hearing loss experience. Her book, "Hear & Beyond: Live Skillfully with Hearing Loss," (co-authored with Gael Hannan) is the ultimate survival guide to living well with hearing loss. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, she will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      That is wonderful! Thank you for sharing the tech that works for you!

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