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As Narada ascends the mountainous terrain outside of Victoria, British Columbia, he takes a moment to savor the spectacular view. Coming up the trail toward him are a pair of hikers he’s never seen before.

In times past, Narada—who has been deaf since the age of 2—might avoid eye contact or nod silently at the strangers, skipping the difficult, awkward moments that come with communicating with hearing people.

But this time Narada wants to connect. He says hello to the hikers and takes out his Android phone, on which he has installed Live Transcribe, an accessibility app that transcribes speech into text in real-time. He asks them where they’re planning on camping that evening. And when they answer him, he doesn’t have to read their lips or ask them to repeat themselves. He instead reads their words directly off of the Live Transcribe screen.

“I love meeting new people while hiking. Using Live Transcribe has made it so much easier to talk with people. I can just take my phone out and read along as the application is transcribing their stories. And then I can tell them my own stories.”

The technology has opened up Narada to experiences—both personal and professional—that he never would have enjoyed before. “I love meeting new people while hiking,” he says. “Using Live Transcribe has made it so much easier to talk with people. I can just take my phone out and read along as the application is transcribing their stories. And then I can tell them my own stories.”

If his new companions ask, Narada is happy to talk about his life’s improbable journey. Born in Sri Lanka, Narada moved to Canada with his family two months short of his 19th birthday. His family had hoped that their new home would offer more resources and opportunities for their son. For his part, Narada was excited about adopting Canada as his home. But he was also unsure about the realities of being hearing impaired in a strange new country: How would he meet friends? Where would he find a job?

Eventually, Narada overcame his doubts, both by meeting new people in the great outdoors and by carving out a profession based on one of his main strengths: visual expression. Over the past several years, Narada has built a thriving freelance career in graphic design, photography, and video editing. Here, too, Narada relies on Live Transcribe. The app’s transcription feature helps him to secure gigs, communicate with clients, and ensure that the photographs, videos, and designs he creates meet their standards—ultimately allowing him to support himself doing what he loves.

Last year, Narada took on as a client Mental Health Recovery Partners, a Canadian organization that provides resources and services to those with mental illness. Narada was hired to take photos for the charity’s website and to design some brochures. To prepare for the assignment, Narada asked to speak directly with individuals who had reached out to the organization for help.

“Consulting with new clients used to be especially difficult. With Live Transcribe I don’t have to worry about lipreading. I’m able to write down ideas, then turn back to my phone screen, to make sure I haven’t missed a beat in the conversation.”

From those conversations, Narada was able to create photographs and literature that felt specific and unique to the individuals that the organization sought to serve. By better understanding their stories even without hearing their voices, he was able to produce graphics that truly resonated—with his client, with his subjects, and most of all, with himself.

How Narada does it.

Live Transcribe.

Narada takes Live Transcribe out on solo treks in the Canadian wilderness, giving him the opportunity to meet and converse with hikers from around the world by pulling out his phone to use the app’s real-time transcription capabilities.

To build out his design career, Narada needs to communicate seamlessly with clients. Live Transcribe allows him to understand the totality of every client’s demands without worrying about lipreading. It ensures Narada doesn't miss important details or misunderstand what is being said, whether it’s changing the composition of a photo, the timing of a cut in a video edit, or adjusting a font on a graphic.

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