Telephones to Help the Hard of Hearing Come with a Wide Array of Features
For many individuals with hearing loss, talking on the telephone can be a difficult activity. Even for those without hearing aids, the pitch of sound of standard telephone conversations can be especially difficult to process. Amplified phones are designed to alleviate this problem by increasing the volume and clarity of telephone sound. Because the level of hearing loss can widely vary from person to person and at times be accompanied by other disabilities, amplified phones offer a wide array of different features. Here are some factors to consider when purchasing an amplified telephone:
The most important aspect of an amplified phone is the strength and clarity of the sound on telephone calls. The more severe an individual’s hearing impairment, the greater increase in decibel level is required.
- Mild hearing loss requires amplification up to 26 dB.
- Moderate hearing loss requires amplification up to 40 dB.
- Severe hearing loss requires amplification up to 55 dB.
Individuals with hearing loss can have difficulty hearing a standard phone ringing. Features amplified phones can offer to improve the ringer include:
- Ringer amplification- Similar to the amplification of call sound, amplified phones offer various levels of increased sound strength and improved pitch of the ringer so individuals can hear the phone ringing from other parts of their homes. Because the ringer must be heard from farther distances, the decibel amplification level of the ringer is often significantly greater than the amplification level for phone calls.
- Visual ringer- For individuals who have trouble hearing, even an amplified ringer might not always grab their attention and alert them to an incoming phone call. Thus, many amplified phones also include a visual ringer that lights up and flashes when the phone is ringing.
Many individuals with hearing loss also have other difficulties that can make dialing difficult, including vision and memory loss. Some of the keypad modifications offered by different amplified phone models include:
- Enlarged buttons with easy to read numbers and text
- Picture dialing- Commonly dialed family and friends can be programmed into some phones and identified by an accompanying photo, avoiding the need to remember phone numbers.
- Braille characters on each key to assist the vision-impaired
Some models of amplified phones feature other helpful features, including:
- Improper hang-up warning- These audible and visual warnings let the user know that the phone has been left “off the hook”. This notification serves to alert the user to hang up the phone properly in order to allow incoming calls to continue to come through.
- Hearing aid compatibility- Hearing aid compatible telephones send a magnetic signal directly to the telecoil in a hearing aid that eliminates the feedback and squealing some hearing aid users experience when holding a telephone handset next to their hearing aid.
Now that you know a little bit about what to look for in an amplified phone, follow the links below to check out specific models and compare their features to see which one best matches your needs.