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Telephone conversations are an extremely important aspect of modern communication. To the hard of hearing user, finding the right phone or compatible device is extremely important to maximize clarity, minimize feedback and increase usefulness.
According to Connevans, high frequency hearing loss is a problem affecting up to 95% of hearing impaired people. Those with high-frequency hearing loss can't hear sounds like st and ch, so words like stair and chair sound like air. Just increasing the volume doesn't always help because it amplifies all frequencies. What these people probably need is a telephone which features a built-in sound equalizer which selectively increases the volume of high or low frequency sounds. (See the Geemarc CL1400).
Big Key Telephones
|CSC 50 Jumbo Key |
Info source: Phone Review
|BT Big Button 100|
Also allows increase of outgoing speech volume.
Info source: Connevans
|Serene Innovations Jumbo Key HD-60J 60dB|
More big button telephones (US website) . . .
|Video calling over a standard telephone line has been tried in the past. A typical example is the Amstrad E3 introduced in 2004. The Gadget magazine T3 said in a review posted in 2007," . . . the E3 is absurdly complex to use, with dozens of dedicated buttons, confusing labels and a weird menu structure. Basically, it's like a 3G phone without the bandwidth, sexiness or portability."|
BT revitalised the idea, by bringing out two handsets that can make and receive video calls over broadband. There are two handsets - the BT Videophone 1000 and the Videophone 2000.
Image: The Amstrad E3
|The Videophone 1000 has a 3.5 inch colour screen and a video camera. To use it, you need to have a BT Total Broadband account, and be signed up to BT Broadband Talk - this is free if you're with BT Total Broadband. The phone can be used as a standard phone, as well as a videophone, and because the calls are made over the Internet, you get very low cost phone calls. |
According to the BT FAQ, you can make video calls to any other BT Broadband Talk customer who has a video enabled device connected to their BT Broadband Talk service. This could be a BT Videophone or the BT Softphone with a webcam connected. As for calling people overseas is concerned, the FAQ goes on to say, "You can make calls to people overseas, only if they have the BT Broadband Talk service. If they don’t have BT Broadband Talk, you will be able to make a voice-only call."
More information about BT Videophones . . .
Image: BT Videophone 1000
If you have difficulty hearing the phone ring, there are phones available that not only amplify the ringer but also have a flashing light which indicates incoming calls and call waiting. Many phones allow the user to adjust the ring and speaking volume and provide optimum volume power. To accommodate other members in your household, some are capable of returning to normal sound levels automatically. Amplified telephones can range from $50 to $200 and are offered with many unique features.
The HearEasy 313c Big Button Extra Loud Phone
Image source: TechReady
Telephone amplifiers are an external component that are used with regular phones. There are some now that are mobile phone compatible, which is of great benefit to those on the go.
Connevans Ltd - Inline telephone amplifiers >
Earpieces and HeadsetsEarpieces and headsets are also very popular. They are very practical in that they are hands-free and because of their small size, they are portable. Some earpieces are able to plug into cell phone.
Text PhonesFor the severely hearing impaired, there are text phones which allow the person to read text messages with the assistance of a relay line. Some text phones are lightweight and portable and some are also cell phone compatible.
TelecoilTelecoil or T-switch is a feature of some hearing aids and enables the user to better communicate on the phone through a magnetic field. The T switch is activated by the press of the button and is great in that it minimizes background noise and allows hearing aid users to speak directly into the phone.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Telephone Handset Issues
A person helping out on a reception desk struggles to lift the telephone handsets. He has limited upper body strength but still uses an ordinary computer keyboard so it seems that he can put pressure on static object. A headset appears not to be the solution. The telephone system is digital and managed by a Splicecom Maximiser PCS 400, supported by several PCS 50s. There is a headphone socket in the main phone. No separate socket in the ordinary phones and no obvious button to over-ride the cradle as a way of answering the phone. Are there any devices which would help.
Suggested Solution (supplied by an Abilitynet Consultant):
The Splicecom Maximiser system has a software application called PCS 50 that installs onto a computer and allows the phone system to be operated from the desktop. The user will then have the same view on their computer monitor as you normally see on the LCD touch screen on the phone. The user can then tab through the selections available on screen and/or just click on their chosen selection with their mouse pointer. http://www.ghc.co.uk/maximiser/maximiser_mini_site/partner_phone.html
Also built-in with PCS 50 are lots of usual office telephony systems such as a contacts list which are automatically updated and pushed out to all users, logging of all calls, hot desking, remote home working, etc. http://www.ghc.co.uk/maximiser/maximiser_mini_site/overview.html
At present this software does not have the ability to autoscan and work with a switch button. However, one UK supplier was happy to approach the software developers and work with them to develop the software further to possibly incorporate this. This same supplier actually gives the software away for free as standard with any purchase of the Splicecom systems. They will also offer support through the process of installation and usage. For further information, please contact Adrian Bolton (sales rep) at Gordon Harwood Computers Ltd. (http://www.ghc.co.uk/).
In regards to headsets, Plantronics are extremely good. Make sure there is noise cancellation built in to any headset being considered.
- Telephone headset selector. Information on telephone headsets and is designed to help you choose the most suitable telephone headset for the job.
- Telephone splitter box
Many offices employ blind and disabled personnel who are expected to operate a Telephone system, a Dictaphone system and a Computer system of some sort (often two at the same time). A Splitter Box enables all the operator inputs to be connected to a single unit (box) which, by means of a suitable switching system, and amplification where required, allows the user to select the required inputs and route them to a single headset/microphone assembly. (Hagger)
Image source: Hagger
Image source: Hagger
- Hands-Free Computing. Specialists in technology to integrate telephone and computer.
Plantronics MX10 (Source:HandsFree)
Plantronics MX10 (Source:HandsFree)
VXI TalkPro SP2 (Source:HandsFree)
Telephone switches and headsets . . .
- CapTel. The captioned telephone that displays every word a caller says, on a small screen on the telephone. Great for people with hearing impairment.
How it works:
CapTel phone users place a call in the same way as dialing a traditional phone. As they dial, the CapTel phone automatically connects to a captioning service. When the other party answers, the CapTel phone user hears everything that they say, just like a traditional call.
CapTel users can read conversation captions on their computer screen, at any size or font style they choose. The CapTel USB option lets you connect the CapTel phone to a computer to view captions on the computer monitor. Learn more
Voice activated and adapted telephones
- AblePhone. Voice activated telephones for people with disabilities
- Accessible phones for quadriplegics
- Tiresias. Telephones - what features do disabled people need?
|Using a telephone with a switch and voice recognition|