Finding the Right Amplified Phone
If you have a hearing impairment or know someone who does maybe you should consider an amplified phone to make communication easier and more effective.
There are a number of models on the market with various features to aid those who have hearing loss and some that provide options for the deaf. Primarily we are talking about landline phones, but there are a few options for those needing an amplified cell phone.
General Phone Features
There are many features to consider when selecting amplified phones. Just as with any telephone you should decide whether you want a corded phone or cordless. Cordless obviously provides more mobility. Speaker phones are also available for those who prefer these models. There are even a few cell phones with amplification, some are simple phones built for "seniors" and others are rugged phones built for construction sites and so forth.
Also like other telephones, you need to determine whether features such as caller ID, answering machine functions, and so forth are desirable.
How Much and What Kind of Amplification?
Amplified phones boost volume. Check the phone you're considering to see if the volume will be adequate. Some will increase the volume by 10 dB while others can increase it by up to 50 dB. Some will boost ringer volume even further.
Another important consideration is tone control. For many with hearing loss, higher frequency sounds are more difficult to hear than lower frequency sounds. If the phone allows users to amplify particular tones or frequencies it may be more effective.
In many instances having an amplified ringer or some type of visual indicator (such as a flashing light) to alert the user of an incoming call is critical for those with a more significant hearing loss. It is also possible to purchase amplified ringers and handsets versus an entirely new phone.
Some phones will offer connections to allow the addition of a vibrating ringer.
For those with hearing aids, it's also important that the amplified phone be hearing aid compatible with at least an M3/T3 rating.
Features For Motor or Visual Problems
There are other features to consider when choosing an amplified phone. Sometimes a user can benefit from larger buttons or single button dialing/speed dialing or perhaps voice dialing to compensate for any difficulty using the tiny buttons on regular phones.
For others with visual impairment, amplified phones with Braille are necessary.
Features For Those with Profound Hearing Loss
In some instances, an amplified phone may not be sufficient. A TTY phone, or TDD, offers such individuals the ability to place and receive calls via a keyboard and display for printed text. VCO phones are another alternative. Learn more about them below.
Voice Carry Over Phones
VCO phones look like traditional amplified phones but they also have a screen to type messages to display. These phones allow severely hard of hearing and deaf people to communicate over the phone using their own voice.
The call goes through a VCO service so that when the receiver of the call responds, their message is typed by a VCO assistant for the HOH or deaf person to read on their phone.
These phones allow faster and more natural communication than a TTY.
Other Phone Features to Consider
There are other features that might be desirable that aren't necessarily specific to amplified phones. For instance:
- caller ID
- one button dialing for frequently used or emergency numbers
- an answering system for messages
- a large, backlit display or a tilting display
- power backup
- call blocking
- long range for cordless models
- DECT 6.0 cordless models offer signal security and won't conflict with routers and other devices
Who Makes Amplified Phones?
Amplified landline phones are made by a number of companies. Panasonic, Clarity, and ClearSounds are among the most well known and respected.
For a moderate to severe hearing loss, the ClearSounds CSC600 is one good option. It offers 50dB amplification, a flashing strobe visual ringer, large LCD, one-touch dialing for 5 numbers, connection for a vibrating alert, speakerphone function, caller ID, and more.
The Clarity 54005 is perhaps the right phone for a severe hearing loss offering 53dB amplification for call volume and up to 100dB ringer amplification. It can increase the volume and clarity of soft sounds and decrease it for louder sounds. It also offers one-button dialing for up to 10 numbers, speakerphone, visual ringer, connections for a vibrating ringer, and more
Cell Phones With More Volume
There are some cell phone models that are designed with amplified sound. One example would be some of the phones that are designed specifically for elderly individuals. Phones like the Jitterbug FLIP, Jitterbug SMART, and the Snapfon ezTWO are examples of this.
Some of the rugged cell phones also offer increased volume, especially with a louder speakerphone function for those who work or play in noisier environments. The Sonim XP7 is an example.
Related Resources for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Assistive devices cost money, here are some links to get you started in finding some financial assistance.
© 2008 Ruth Coffee