In today’s age emails, endless apps & social networking sites are there for virtual communication. But the telephone is still an important piece of communicating device you own. It helps to communicate in person in real time by hearing each other voice, experience their tone which provides complete satisfaction.
But for someone with hearing impairment, they face a lot of challenge while communicating with normal telephones. Just imagine how difficult the phone conversation would be for someone who relies on visual techniques like lip-reading or sign language.
Thanks to the research & development in hearing technology, there are various phones available in the market which the deaf people can use in a much better & efficient way.
What is a hearing impaired phone?
These are the special devices designed to assist deaf people to hear clearly over the phones. It provides a means to hearing loss sufferers communicate with others. We know that there is different types of hearing loss – mild, moderate, and severe loss. Such phone opens the word of conversation for such people.
There are different types of telephones available according to a level of hearing issue you have. Every telephone has its own features, benefits, and limitations. But before making any buying decision, you should have a brief idea about this hearing technology.
Do you really need this telephone for hearing impaired?
People having hearing loss have many resources available to help them to understand and communicate properly. If you unsure of getting these phones or not then consider following points mentioned below.
- How often do you ask to repeat words while talking over phones?
- Do you constantly turn up the volume high on television or music player?
- Is it difficult to understand others in restaurants or any crowded place?
- Are you trying to avoid social situations just because you face difficulty in communication?
If you find any of these possibilities then it’s quite clear that you really need to purchase and use it. It will improve your communication skills and enhance your confidence.
Hearing impaired phones are for everyone who is suffering from any form of hearing, speech or visual disability. It is not just for old or elderly people.
In this article, we will talk about such telephones for hearing impaired, their types & how they work.
But first of all, let us understand the main reason people face difficulties while using telephones.
Main reasons hearing telephone conversations can be difficult
Lack of physical interaction
While on the telephonic conversation, there is no visual information & physical interaction which compounds the hearing difficulties. You can read facial expressions, lips, hand gestures or sign language to understand the conversation. This makes it tough for hard of hearing to have a clear auditory experience.
You are continuously using one ear to listen in the conversation
Telephones and mobile phones are very handy to carry. It has huge benefits of that but on the other hand, we have some issues I would say common issues with that as well. While communicating on telephones we use our only one ear but we don’t bother even we don’t take it as a serious issue but it is an issue to suffer the difficulty of hearing. As we go through this on a regular basis it will be an issue later.
Phone compatibility with the hearing device
Different mobile phones are created with different technologies – different spare part and all. So they are not equally built with the same specifications, features, and hardware. So the compatibility is different from device to the device whether it is a telephone or a mobile phone device, that’s the reason that some phones have issues with hearing aids compatibility.
Different location different Sound frequencies.
Different geological locations have different sound frequencies too. Sometimes you had noticed that the voice when you are calling through a rural area will break too much but when you are calling through an urban area it is as fluent as Shakespeare English. This location differences may also lead to a hearing impairment.
Whatever the reason you are facing difficulties in using normal telephones, there are solutions available that can help you enjoy better hearing with or without hearing aids.
Best phones for hearing impaired available in the market 2019
The biggest problem for the hard of hearing persons, is they find the surrounding sound less audible. The simple solution to make improvement in the phone for deaf people is to make the sound louder.
The amplifying phones do so by letting the headset volume adjustable up to a maximum of about 100–150dB. The microphone is also adjustable which make it helpful in the case if the deaf person is taking by phone to another.
There is a button to switch on the boosted mode during any conversation. So that if someone else with normal hearing wants to use the telephone comfortably. There is also a setting to adjust the loudness of the sound to match with the person hearing loss.
Amplified phones are best for people suffering from mild, moderate or severe hearing loss.
List of 5 best amplified phones
|Panasonic KX-TG6592T||View on Amazon|
|Clarity Amplified Corded Photo Telephone||View on Amazon|
|Clarity Dect 6 Amplified Cordless Big Button Speakerphone with Talking Caller Id Clarity||View on Amazon|
|Clarity XLC3.4+ DECT 6.0 Extra Loud Big Button Speakerphone with Talking Caller ID||View on Amazon|
|Geemarc Ultra Amplified Corded Telephone||View on Amazon|
Amplifiers for existing phones
If you are suffering from mild hearing loss, you don’t need to buy a new phone. There is various phones amplifier available in the market which makes the existing phone sound louder.
The handset amplifier is an affordable solution to landline amplification. It consists of a microphone, a loudspeaker and a battery which connects the phone body and the telephone handset. These amplifiers make the sound louder by about 20-40dB.
List of 5 best Handset and Headset Amplifier
|Serene Innovations Universal Handset and Headset Amplifier||View on Amazon|
|Clear Sounds Portable Phone Amplifier 40Db||View on Amazon|
|Clarity CLARHA40 Portable Telephone Handset Amplifier||View on Amazon|
|Clarity W10-44 50800-005 ASH AC POWERED INLINE AMPLIFIER||View on Amazon|
|Clarity W6-FM-NC4-BK F STYLE BLACK||View on Amazon|
Identifying calls and callers
Most of the time deaf persons are unable to hear the ringing tone or identify the caller. Keeping this in mind, most of the phones for hearing loss comes with extra loud ringtone feature along with flashlight & vibration. This helps them to easily identify the incoming calls.
There are additional extensions available in the market like LCD displays & plug-in ringers. This helps in checking the caller information so that you can decide whether to pick the call or not. There is also various technology available which speaks the name of the caller loudly. This comes handy if the person is suffering from both visual as well as hearing impairments.
The telephones for deaf people can be enhanced with the use of inductive coupling. This will be helpful for the hearing aids users.
Hearing consist of a microphone which picks the sound from the source and converts it into an electric signal which is further amplified. The loudspeaker turns back it into loud sound to the person’s ear.
While amplifying, the sound with background noise also gets amplified. This makes the quality of sound very poor and difficult to understand.
With the help of inductive coupling, the hearing aids can be electromagnetically linked to the telephone loudspeaker by switching off the microphone. This way the hearing aid will pick the clear sound from the source. This way the deaf people will hear the more audible sound.
Digital hearing aids come with the switch also called T setting which also them to pick up signals from induction loops. Nowadays public places like concerts & theatre are fitted with induction loops.
List of 5 best TTY Phones
|Ultratec Uniphone 1140 Phone||View on Amazon|
|Clarity Dialogue III||View on Amazon|
|Avaya Telset 1140 TTY Standard Phone||View on Amazon|
|Ultratec Supercom 4400 TTY||View on Amazon|
|Ultratec Minicom IV TDD/TTY||View on Amazon|
TTY stands for Text Telephone. This is suitable for those who are suffering from profound hearing loss since the telephone amplifier & inductive coupling will be of no use for them.
TTY is a special telecommunication device for the hard of hearing or speech impaired which uses a telecommunications relay service (TRS). It looks similar to a laptop computer with a keyboard which allows them to type the message which is sent over the phone line instead of talking. In the same way, you can read another person’s response to the TTY’s text display.
If both the person in communication is deaf than they can both type and receive messages in text form. But If a user with normal telephone want to talk a deaf person having TTY can also call the deaf or speech-impaired by using the Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS). An operator will listen to the sound and then type them out and relay them over the TTY display.
This is quite old technology not commonly in practice due to alternative technology such as fax, email, SMS, chat apps, Skype etc.
Hearing aids compatible cellphones
There are many cellphones being designed keeping in mind people affected with hearing loss. They are compatible with hearing aids and comes with several other features which support them to use it better.
It’s been 21 years since the Hearing Aid Compatibility Act of 1988 was passed by Congress in the United States.
The Federal Communications Commission(FCC) [it is a US based department which works to assign duties and set standards for a telecommunications company as per legal compliance] had set some hearing aid compatibility standards for phones keeping in mind the problem faced by deaf people.
As per this, the smartphone manufacturer should produce handsets that are compatible with hearing aids and cochlear implants.
They use two measurements to decide whether the handset is hearing aid compatible or not. They are M-rating and T-rating.
M-ratings: It is also known as a microphone rating as its name suggests it is applicable on microphones to minimize its interference in acoustic mode- from M1 To M4. Where M4 stands for the best.
T-ratings: It is also called as telecoil rating (telecoil is a tightly wrapped wire piece which converts sounds into electromagnetic signals) and handsets are also rated from T1 to T4, where T4 Stands for best.
So, if you are planning to buy a new smartphone, must consider these ratings. Each and every mobile phone and telephone has M & T rating before buying the device you must ensure these rating to avoid the issue of hearing loss.
Most commonly used devices with their M and T ratings.
|Apple||iPhone XS max||M3/T4|
|Samsung||Galaxy note 9||M4/T3|
|Motorola||Droid Maxx 2||M3/T3|
You can get a complete list of all the hearing aid compatible handsets offered by manufacturers by clicking here.
While selecting a cellphone, you can consider a number of features like:
- Compatibility with hearing aids if they are worn
- Handsfree option, speakerphone
- Video chat ability for sign language
- Features to reduce intervention such as backlight control and induction loops
- Volume control or additional amplification and adjustable ringtone
- Vibration alerts to avoid missed calls
Nowadays, hearing aids come with smart technology which automatically syncs with smartphones making it easier to communicate.
In today’s age of globalisation, when most of the families live apart from each other, telephonic communication, video chats, voice mail are an important mean of communication to stay in touch. Hence, it becomes important for deaf people to have such phone which they can use efficiently.
In the last, here are some final tips which will help you choose the best phone for hard of hearing.
1. Choose a hearing aid compatible phone: There are various smartphones available with hearing aids compatibility standards. These phones must have the feature of voice and ringer volume at a high enough level to have good audible experience. While purchasing any phone must have considered this.
2. Which option do you need (desk or cordless phone or a phone that combines both): There are two options available – corded or cordless.
Benefits of desk phones:
- No need of the battery
- Often include other sensory cues in a prominent manner
- High maximum volume output
- Mostly come with a built-in answering machine
Benefits of cordless phones:
- They are very portable, can be taken from room to anywhere you go
- Some support extension with extra handsets
- Can answer the phone quickly, without moving to the phone location
3. Buy according to your budget: Price of modal varies as per the brands, features, extension & the in-built technology. You should plan your budget in advance. Consider which feature you need the most to manage your hearing loss, and make your buying decision according to that.
4. Level of user experience required: This is one of the important things to consider. Check the device complexity and user experience required to operate such phones. The phone must provide useful features and at the same time simpler to use.
The important features which phone for hearing impaired seniors should have:
- Caller ID
- Handsfree speaker option
- Large display and buttons to dial
- Visual ring indicator
- Built-in answer phone
- Backlit keypad
- Telecoil compatibility
- Vocalised keypad
These were some things which you should consider while buying. Hope, the article was worth reading. Thanks for visiting.