Barbara Kelley: Hi, I'm Barbara Kelley with the Hearing Loss Association of America. Today we'll talk about telephone options for people with hearing loss. Even though we are in a time of texting, tweeting and email, phone calls are sometimes the best way to communicate. For those with hearing loss, this becomes a challenge.
There are three types of alternate phone systems that may help; volume-control phones, hearing-aid-compatible phones and caption phones. The FCC mandates all phones must have volume control which can be external in-line devices or integrated into the phone itself. Some phones also have pitch or clarity controls.
If you're buying a hearing aid for the first time, be sure to ask for a telecoil to be included. Before you buy a phone, be sure the phone is clearly marked as hearing aid compatible. For land-lines this means the phone generates a signal that the teleccoil inside a hearing aid can pick up. For mobile phones this indicates that the phone will not interfere with hearing aid function.
Additionally for mobile phones, ratings indicated by an M for used on the microphone setting or telecoil strength indicated by a T provide guidance as to which handsets might work best for you. For Mobile phones ratings of M3 or M4 and T3 or T4 are recommended. These ratings should be clearly marked on both the device packaging and on any online catalogs or websites.
When you shop for a phone be sure to test it with a live line to make sure it works with your hearing aid. Caption phones are specially made phones that have a built in screen to display the text of the conversation, so you can read it during the phone call. You place your call through a relay operator who hears the person you are calling; then uses voice recognition software to provide you with a visual transcript.
The calls are confidential and while there is a slight delay and maybe a few errors, caption phones offer many people a way to enjoy phone calling despite hearing loss. When purchasing a device, be sure you can try it both in the store and at home with an option to return it if it doesn't meet your needs. There are solutions to help you overcome the challenge of hearing loss and the telephone.