InnoCaption, a mobile app-based provider of real-time captioning of phone calls for the deaf and hard of hearing, announced that Co-CEO Joe Duarte has been granted the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Hearing Loss Association of America’s (HLAA) 2022 Convention in Tampa, Fla. Throughout his career, Joe has been dedicated to developing technologies and bringing them to life to improve communication for people who live with hearing loss, according to InnoCaption.
The award recognizes Joe for his “longstanding and unwavering commitment to the hearing loss community.” He was nominated by HLAA staff who have seen, first-hand, Joe’s contributions over the years in support of HLAA and people with hearing loss.
“From his days of starting Duartek, to his work making our conventions accessible, to our national office, to InnoCaption, Joe has been a tireless advocate for the deaf and hard-of-hearing community. We are thrilled to recognize his efforts and achievements that have made a difference in the lives of so many,” said Barbara Kelley, executive director, HLAA.
Joe was born in Portugal, where his hearing loss was repeatedly misdiagnosed until receiving his first hearing aid at age 4. He later moved to the United States during high school, eventually earning a degree in biomedical electrical engineering. He received his first cochlear implant in 2008.
Joe founded the accessibility consulting and design firm Duartek, which provided custom engineered audio/visual solutions and integrated systems with a dedicated focus on auditory accessibility and connectivity with hearing aids and cochlear implants. He successfully built and ran the company for 30 years. Joe first discovered InnoCaption at a conference while it was still under testing and development. He was so inspired by the innovation that he got directly involved with the budding startup to help launch the app and share the technology with the world.
“Joe is a stalwart supporter and advocate for technology that improves the lives of people living with hearing loss. His innovative spirit and vision have brought to life truly life-changing technology to improve access to communication,” said Kelley.
“While hearing loss inherently presents challenges to communications, it has been exciting and rewarding to leverage the power of technology to help overcome those challenges. Throughout my life, I’ve felt the need to help spread the word about ways to improve connections between each other, and it’s an honor to be recognized today by this terrific organization,” said Joe.
InnoCaption is “the only FCC-certified caption phone service to offer real-time captioning of incoming and outgoing calls on smartphones through stenographers.” InnoCaption also provides the option for captioning through best-in-class automated speech recognition (ASR) technology when users prefer not to have a live assistant during calls. This captioning service is federally funded and provided free-of-charge to people whose hearing loss makes it hard to understand phone calls.