Telephone use for those with hearing loss can be a challenge. This is due to two significant limitations: telephones provide limited acoustic (sound) information and there are no visual cues. Telephone communication forces the listener to rely solely on hearing.
What can be done?
If you have any degree of hearing loss, even a very mild one, an amplified phone may help to improve your ability to understand telephone conversations. Some state programs provide amplified telephones for anyone who has a hearing impairment free of charge (with an audiologist or physician endorsement).
A captioning phone provides real-time word-for-word captions. There is typically a screen attached or built-in to the phone that displays the live conversation in written text. The conversation will be transcribed into text for the user to see on the captioned telephone display.
Video calling or conference call applications like Face Time or Skype can be used on a computer or mobile device. This way, the user can take advantage of both auditory and visual cues in communicating.
Hearing device user options
- Telecoil or specific phone use program
- Bluetooth streaming accessory
- Smart hearing technology available for mobile devices
The above-listed technologies improve speech understanding on the phone by delivering the phone conversation directly to the hearing aids. Discuss options with an audiologist to determine which best fits your individual needs.
Roup, C. M., Poling, G. L., Harhager, K., Krishnamurthy, A., & Feth, L. L. (2011). Evaluation of a telephone speech-enhancement algorithm among older adults with hearing loss. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 54(5), 1477-1483.