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Local Fire Department Starts Using App to Better Communicate with People who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing

Firefighters in Germantown are using a new tool to help save lives. They're using a smart phone app that helps them communicate with people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

It's called Prodeaf Translator, and firefighters are using it to ask "yes" or "no" questions to the patient. It's improving communication.

"What we'd have to do is write it out on a piece of paper, everybody's handwriting is different," said Germantown Fire Chief Gary Weiss. "My handwriting is horrible."

Not only does the animated guy on the app sign, the words show up above him.

"Anything that can help with the communication process would definitely help," said Kelly Rehbeck with Hear Wisconsin in Milwaukee.

Rehbeck says the pen and paper method is still important for shorter conversations, while speech apps work for longer conversations.

"I tell high school students, it's a good time to be deaf if you're going to be deaf, because we have the technology, we have different ways of communicating that we didn't have years ago," Rehbeck said.

Prodeaf Translator is a free app.

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