Phone equipment for the deaf

The 5 Best Hearing Impaired Telephones

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Best Phones for the Hearing Impaired

Do you have a visual impairment or limited dexterity? You might like to consider a phone with big buttons that are easy to see, and large simple controls that are straightforward to use. Do you want a phone that you can carry around the house? Generally, corded phones are more powerful and have a greater level of amplification and hearing aid compatibility, so these are often the best first choice. However, cordless phones can be very handy and you can have several rechargeable handsets.

What other features do you need? Some phones have lots of useful features, such as a built-in answerphone, flashing light for incoming calls or a large display Back to Telephones at Home. Join Now Newsletter [x] Name: Email Address: Equipment For Deaf People: UHF Radio Microphones: A hearing aid is an example of electromagnetism in action: The quality of the amplified sound can sometimes be poor or confusing because a hearing aid will generally amplify background noise as well as the sounds you actually want to hear.

When those sounds are produced by a loudspeaker of some kind, such as the one in a telephone, a person with a hearing impairment can often produce a clearer, more audible sound in their ear by induction coupling: Public places such as theaters and concert halls are often fitted with induction loops , which are large circuits of wire fed with electrical signals from the same source driving the main loudspeakers. As the signals travel around an induction loop, it produces a small, safe, fluctuating magnetic field all around it.

The 5 Best Hearing Impaired Telephones

Compatible hearing aids will pick up these fields using a smaller loop of wire called a "telecoil" inside them and convert them directly into sounds. Effectively, you get a direct "feed" of the loudspeaker to your ear, so your hearing aid receives only the sounds you want to hear and not the background noise. Compatible hearing aids have a switch on them called the T setting that allows them to pick up signals from induction loops. Virtually all phones designed for hearing impaired people can be used with inductive coupling in this way.

A typical TTY phone, probably dating from the s. Note how the phone handset sits in an acoustic coupler on top.

Amplifying phones

There's a keyboard for sending messages and a one-line display for receiving them. There's also a little printer under the phone handset in the center for printing out conversations. If you have a profound hearing impairment, technologies like amplification and inductive coupling may be little or no use. One solution is to use a telecommunications relay service TRS and a TTY teletypewriter phone also known as a minicom or textphone in some countries , which looks a bit like a laptop computer with a keyboard, a small typically one-line display, and two round plugs at the top where you sit your phone sometimes called an acoustic coupler.

TTY phones can be used in various different ways. If both users have TTY equipment, you can simply type messages at one end and have them appear on the display at the other end. If a user with a conventional phone wants to communicate with someone who has only a TTY phone, typically they'd speak to an operator who'd listen to the words, type them out, and relay them over to the display on the user's TTY phone.

Although many people still rely on TTY phones, they're less relevant now alternative technologies exist, such as fax , email, SMS text messaging on cellphones , and IM instant messaging chat over the Internet with free programs such as Skype.

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Cellphones have traditionally been difficult for hearing-impaired people to hear clearly, but they're now improving rapidly thanks to advances in technology and changes in legislation. Some countries have been more responsive to the needs of hearing-impaired people than others. In the United States, it's over 20 years since Congress passed the Hearing Aid Compatibility Act of , effectively prompting phone manufacturers to make more of their equipment usable by hearing-impaired people.

3 main reasons hearing telephone conversations can be difficult

Cellphones wireless, mobile phones were specifically exempted from this law because, at that time, they were still very new and the politicians didn't want to hamper the development of the technology. Since then, things have moved on. The Federal Communications Commission now requires specific levels of compatibility between hearing aids and cellphones and places requirements on wireless service providers to offer a choice of compatible equipment to their customers.

Unfortunately, similar standards don't always exist in other countries, but raising the bar in the United States will undoubtedly help better equipment to become more widely available elsewhere. Telephones are only useful if you can detect that they're ringing. While desktop phones for hearing-impaired people have things like strobe lights to indicate incoming calls, cellphones, being much smaller and typically riding in your pocket, don't always have the same features.

There are solutions, however. Most cellphones have a discreet vibrating alert, so that's the simplest way to use them if you can't hear them ringing.

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You can also get desktop holders for cellphones that detect the vibrating alert for a call or text message and flash for a minute or two.