The DC Voice

How home phone technology can benefit hard of hearing customers

According to the Hearing Loss Association of America, 1 in 5 Americans (about 20%) report some degree of hearing loss. Perhaps you or a loved one experiences this firsthand. If so, you may understand how a hearing impairment can manifest in frustrating or embarrassing ways.

A common example? Hard of hearing individuals often struggle to hear on the phone. This can significantly hinder a person’s ability to communicate and connect. Importantly, research suggests this can contribute to an increased risk of social isolation and depression among people who are deaf or hearing impaired.

Fortunately, advances in modern technology are now able to offer effective and affordable solutions for people with hearing loss. Let’s take a look at the latest iterations of adaptive home phone technology, including captioned telephones and teletypewriter (TTY) services.

Captioned Telephones and Teletypewriter (TTY) Services: What They Are and How They Work

Even mild hearing loss can lead to challenges with typical phone use. (And in case it’s not clear, phone use is incredibly common: there are an estimated 4.77 billion cell phone users and 1.263 billion landlines worldwide.)

For instance, talking on standard cell phones and landlines do not allow the listener to see body language and facial expressions, which can otherwise help contextualize the spoken word. It’s also harder to process sound through one ear at a time. Background noises, interference, and poor connection can make regular phone calls almost inhibitive for the hard of hearing.

Two common pieces of technology that help mitigate these issues for hard of hearing phone users are captioned telephones and teletypewriter (TTY) services:

  • Captioned Telephones: phones equipped with a screen that translates spoken word into large, and easy to read text (in real-time). This may not be available in every state, however, some states offer programs that provide free or low-cost phones to people who are deaf or hearing impaired.
  • Teletypewriter (TTY) Services: a free text method in which an operator types what is said on the phone to a hearing impaired person, who can then read the captions on their TTY device. The operator can also read aloud this typed response, and verbally relay typed messages from the hearing impaired person to the other party.

Other Trends for Home Phone Technology and the Hearing Impaired

What else is currently available and on the horizon for people who are deaf and hard of hearing? 

  • Amplified phones are engineered with technology to amplify and improve sound
  • Cell phone apps can now provide captions on mobile phones
  • FaceTime (on iOS products) and similar video calling applications allow users to see or even sign with the person they’re speaking to
  • Bluetooth connectivity allows a person to have audio from their hearing aid compatible (HAC) phone or other digital device directly to their hearing aids 
  • Certain hearing aids and hearing aid apps will allow patients to consult remotely with their audiologist, who can adjust their hearing devices appropriately more efficiently]]

Advances are on-going, which means that for the 48 million Americans living with hearing impaired, telecommunication will continue to become more accessible.

Topic suggested by: Sharlene C

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