Doorbells But Not Sleigh Bells… Yet

Your Smartphone Can Now Alert You to Important Environmental Sounds

Thank you Courtney Ness Fuchs and ND Assistive for helping us understand an exciting new accessibility feature in both Android and iOS smartphone operating systems.

A hand holds a mobile phone with colorful bands of light emanating.

With the recent releases of the iOS 14 and Android 11 operating systems, your iOS and Android smartphones can now alert you to important environmental sounds such as doorbells, fire alarms, and dogs barking.  These accessibility features have been specifically designed for d/Deaf and Hard of Hearing users.  Home alerting systems, such as the Clarity AlertMaster and Serene Innovations CentralAlert, have been around for many years but a good, mobile alerting system has been elusive until now.


Follow these instructions to enable the new Sound Recognition feature on your iOS device. Your iPhone/iPad needs to be running iOS 14 or newer for this feature to work.  Please note that the “Hey Siri” feature will not work while Sound Recognition is running. However, you can still activate Siri manually.

iOS devices can alert you to the following sounds: fire and smoke alarms, sirens, cats, dogs, appliances, car horns, doorbells, knocking, running water, and a crying baby. To activate alerts for specific sounds, toggle on sound recognition from the accessibility menu in settings. Then choose which sounds you want your phone to recognize from the sound recognition menu.

screen shot of iPhone sound recognition menu


To use Sound Notifications on your Android device, make sure your Live Transcribe app is updated to the most recent version. If you don’t have Live Transcribe installed already or if it didn’t come pre-loaded on your device, you may download the free app from the Play Store.  CNET has written a helpful article about how to access this new feature.

Android devices can alert you to the following sounds: smoke and fire alarms, shouting, sirens, babies, dogs barking, doorbell ringing, knocking, appliances beeping, landline phones ringing, and running water.  You can even receive these notifications on your wearable Android devices!

screen shot of Android tablet in sound notifications menu

Editor’s note: sadly, reindeer bells do not appear as a sound recognition option for either operating system.

Published On: December 23, 2020Categories: Technology Spotlight
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The AT3 Center, the Association of AT Act Programs (ATAP), and the Administration on Community Living (ACL) make no endorsement, representation, or warranty expressed or implied for any product, device, or information set forth in this blog. The AT3 Center, ATAP, and ACL have not examined, reviewed, or tested any product or device hereto referred.

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