Being able to hear on the phone can be challenging for anyone, especially if there is a lot of background noise interfering with the connection. For those living with a hearing loss, certain products, such as phone amplification devices and smartphone apps can enable clearer understanding even when faced with annoying background noise or static. This blog will look at amplified phones, hearing aid compatible phones, and smartphone apps to assist with hearing loss.
The website for Healthy Hearing states, amplified phones are specifically designed for people with hearing loss, allowing you to turn up the volume as necessary to hear speech clearly. Most people who use amplified phones don’t use hearing aids yet, but people with hearing aids can certainly use them, as well. These phones can be used to amplify both landline and cellphones depending on the model.
Extra features on an amplified phone may include caller ID, large number keys, a speaker phone, capability to work with a headset, photo dialing, backlit keypads, answering machine or wall mounts, and some can even give you special alerts to let you know the phone was not hung up correctly.
Loud ringers are especially important for these type phones. Many amplified phones have settings that allow you to turn up the volume on the ringer so that you never miss an important call again. Some models will even have a visual indicator, like a flashing light, so you can see when you are receiving an incoming call. Some phones have the capability of ringing up to five times louder than a traditional telephone.
If you have a hearing aid with a telecoil there are also phones available that with just a flip of a switch allows the sound from the phone to be amplified within the hearing aid itself blocking out any unwanted background noise. For moderate to severe hearing loss look for a device that increases sound up to 40 decibels, such as this Clarity Bluetooth Enabled Amplified Cordless Phone. If you have mild to moderate hearing loss then devices that increase sound up to 30 decibels will suffice.
Finally, there is the option of having a portable phone amplifier that can travel with you. These phones can amplify calls from any landline (or compatible cellphone) no matter where you go allowing you to make any regular phone compatible for your personal hearing loss.
Hearing Aid Compatible Phones
Healthy Hearing also has an article concerning hearing aid compatible phones and states, a hearing aid compatible phone makes it easier to stay in touch with family and friends. But finding the best phone for you depends on several factors.
If you have mild or moderate hearing loss you probably don’t need to do anything special to use your hearing aids with a phone, thanks to technology known as “acoustic coupling.” In simple terms, this phrase means you use the phone as normal, and your hearing aid microphone will automatically pick up the sound coming from the phone.
When shopping for a phone, look for what’s known as the M rating for hearing aid compatibility. The M rating ranges from 1 to 4, with 4 being the best compatibility. A higher rating means less distracting noise and feedback coming in, but some unwanted noise is still possible. M3 is perhaps the most common rating–all iPhones currently on the market are rated this at this range, for example.
If you have more severe hearing loss (or want a really clear signal) you will want to make sure the “telecoil” in your hearing aid is turned on. Telecoils direct sound to the hearing aid’s processor without using the microphone. It can improve the signal-to-noise ratio while eliminating the potential for feedback. Your telecoil may automatically switch on or it may require you to manually switch into the telecoil or “T” mode. If you plan to use the telecoil feature, look for what’s known as the T rating for hearing aid compatibility. The T rating also ranges from 1 to 4, with 4 being the best. Many cell phones today are T4.
If you would like to use the Bluetooth feature on certain phones it is important to ensure your hearing aid is compatible with using it. (If you want to learn more about Bluetooth and hearing aids see this article.) The HearAll Cellphone Amplifier or the Bluetooth T-Coil Headset for Cell Phones are great options if you want to use Bluetooth technology with t-coil assistance.
Smartphone Apps to Assist with Hearing Loss
Smartphones are everywhere and new apps are being developed all the time. Here are a few examples of apps currently available to assist those persons with hearing loss be able to communicate more easily.
ClearCaptions: U.S. residents with professionally certified hearing loss are qualified for ClearCaptions equipment, service and support at no cost to them. ClearCaptions works much like closed captions on your TV. You can hear AND read what’s being said, making it easy and frustration-free to use the phone. Once certified you’ll be given your own personal ClearCaptions phone number that you can then give out to friends and family of your choosing. There is no need to change your phone number, instead you can just forward the ClearCaptions number to your regular phone number. This service is available for both landlines and for mobile apple products with an IOS of 12.0 and up.
Rogervoice: Unlike ClearCaptions, this option is available on both Android and IOS based systems and you set the application up yourself. There are three pricing plans including a free base option between users. Rogervoice subtitles phone and video conversations in real time—in more than 100 languages. During a call, you can hold your phone in front of you to read the conversation’s transcribed text and can reply by talking or typing. The app also saves call transcriptions, a feature that’s particularly useful for business calls and notetaking.
Tunity: Tunity developed the first mobile application of its kind which allows users to hear live audio from muted televisions. Through a patented deep learning and computer vision technology, Tunity identifies a live video stream and its exact timing, syncing the audio with the user’s mobile device. Tunity is used by people at bars, restaurants, gyms, universities, doctor’s offices, airports and even at home to enjoy listening to TVs from their mobile devices.