AI’s role in safeguarding avian species
Science

Birding Beyond Sound: How Technology is Making Nature More Accessible for the Hearing-Impaired

Birding has always been a popular pastime for birdwatchers, but with the advent of bird sound identification apps, it’s become more accessible to a wider range of people. These apps have revolutionized the field of birding by making it more inclusive and enjoyable for everyone. One individual who has benefited from this technology is Erin Rollins-Pletsch, a teacher who lost 80 percent of her hearing due to a rare disease about five years ago.

Initially struggling to adjust to the quieter world around her, Rollins-Pletsch found solace in birding. She discovered that focusing on birds helped her to let go of other distractions and allowed her to connect with nature in a unique way.

Living east of San Francisco, Rollins-Pletsch uses various birding tools such as binoculars and cameras to observe birds in their natural habitat. However, she finds that using the Merlin app on her smartphone is particularly helpful. By recording the songs of different birds, she can identify their species and appreciate their unique sounds.

Even though Rollins-Pletsch is unable to hear most bird calls, she can still enjoy the beauty of birds through this innovative tool. The app reads out bird songs to her, allowing her to identify and appreciate different species even without being able to hear their calls.

Overall, bird sound identification apps have opened up new possibilities for individuals like Rollins-Pletsch. They have made birding more inclusive and enjoyable for everyone by providing an enriching experience that allows individuals with hearing impairments to connect with nature in a unique way.

Birdwatchers everywhere are now able to use these apps as an aid in identifying different species while also enjoying the peacefulness of nature. It’s clear that technology has come a long way in making activities like birding more accessible and inclusive for all.

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