You Rang? How Technology Has Made Keeping In Touch Easier For The Visually And Hearing Impaired

It’s no secret that technology is advancing at a rapid pace and that communication isn’t quite like it once was in years past.  For persons experiencing vision or hearing loss these changes can be both beneficial and life changing for the better. This blog will look at special telephone functions specifically geared to those that may need just a little bit of assistance in keeping in touch with friends and family.

Big Button and/or Braille Buttons

“Big Button” telephones usually have large black numbers on a white background, or large white numbers on a black background. These high contrast color combinations coupled with the larger buttons and numbers make it easier for those with vision loss to see what they are dialing. In addition, some large button phones include braille. Adding braille to large button phones makes them ergonomically friendly for anyone with significant vision loss. Independent Living Aids offers several phones for purchase with these functions.

This Big Button Phone with Answering Machine includes large black numbers on white buttons. It also has a built-in speakerphone, an extra-large backlit visual display for caller ID, independent adjustable volume control, and a 25-minute record time. This corded phone can be either desk or wall mounted.

There are also several options available for telephones with braille raised buttons. This Brailled Big Button Corded Phone is light beige with gray buttons and includes large numbers with braille underneath. It also has flashing visual ring identification, ringer control, programmable memory, and is hearing aid compatible. It also can be either desk or wall mounted.

If you already have a big button phone but would like to add braille to enhance it’s usability these .75 Braille Touch to See Letters/Numbers Stick-Ons could be just what you need. This sheet of 176 peel-off letters and numbers are raised and easy to feel. Each sticker is .75” (or ¾ inches) high.

Amplified Telephones

Amplified telephones can increase the volume by 50+ decibels.  These types of phones have bright visual ring flashers and an adjustable volume ringer. This feature can be beneficial for anyone with hearing issues or for those who routinely find themselves in rooms away from their phone. Many of these phones can also be used as a landline and/or amplification for Bluetooth enabled cell phones.

The Clarity Bluetooth Enabled Amplified Cordless Phone offers the convenience of the large button phone but also includes amplification up to 40 decibels. This phone can be used as a landline and/or connected to a Bluetooth enabled phone. In addition, if you no longer have a landline this phone can be use as a receiver for your cell phone, so you never miss a call again from not hearing it ring. This phone can be paired to 2 different Bluetooth enabled devices. It comes with a digital answering machine and can be expanded up to 5 handsets.

If you prefer a corded phone there are two options available in this category through ILA. The Clarity JV35W Amplified Phone w/Jumbo White Buttons & Braille and the Clarity JV35 Amplified Phone w/Jumbo Black Buttons & Braille. Both phones feature jumbo size letters with braille, voice announcement of each number as it is dialed, adjustable ring up to 95 decibels, extra bright ring flasher, hearing aid compatible, and amplification up to 37 decibels (which is 70 times louder than normal).

Voice Activation

Some phones, depending on the model, are equipped to handle and understand various voice commands. These functions can include announcing each number as dialed, reading aloud caller ID, and in the case of smart phones can include opening and executing various apps including audio books, music, and GPS functioning maps.

The BlindShell Talking Cell Phone was designed with voice activation in mind. All features, keys, and commands on the phone are spoken. The phone can alternatively be controlled by voice commands. Voice can also be used for dictating text messages, emails, and notes. Standard phone functions include calling and one touch speed dials, SMS texts, email, contact management, notes, and calendar! Other specialized functions include a camera, calculator, timer, alarm, color identifier, QR code object tagging, FM radio, audio player, book reader, Bluetooth connectivity, and a specially located one touch SOS button.

If you prefer a corded option this Voice Activated Phone is a sure bet. It has voice prompts in 3 different languages including English, Spanish and French. It has the capability to store up to 45 different numbers. Simply pick up the phone; speak a name to dial and let the phone dial automatically. You can also dial by speaking the number to dial or by pushing in the number on the phone directly. This phone also features extra-large buttons with Braille on each number key.

Lastly, if you want to add voice activation to a landline phone you already have there’s the Vocally 3 Freedom Voice Dialer. This voice activated dialer is quite easy to use. Simply attach it to your favorite telephone and record the name of the person or place you would like to program and dial that number on the attached phone one time. The next time you pick up that phone this unit will prompt you, “Who would you like me to call?” State the name you recorded, and the unit will confirm with you and then dial the number. This unit will allow you to record up to 19 digits for each name you record. Stores up to 60 names with phone numbers. Works with regular corded telephones and cordless phones providing you are not too far from the cordless base causing distortion on the line. This unit will not work with cell phones.

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