When having a conversation on the phone, the overall sound quality and clarity can depend on many factors including cell service, unfamiliar voices and even the environment around you, the listener. With a hearing loss, these factors can be even more daunting.
Many patients with hearing loss struggle to talk on the phone, because they are not receiving visual cues from the speaker. Here are some recommendations to make communicating over the phone easier.
- Ask the person on the other line to speak slower, not necessarily louder.
- Reduce the background noise as much as possible.
- Ask your audiologist if you have the telecoil feature (also known as t-coil) in your hearing aid. This is a small, copper coil in your hearing aid that allows you to enhance the signal from a telephone call. Sometimes, this feature is automatic; sometimes, you have to activate it manually.
- Most individuals with hearing loss tend to hold the phone exactly where they did before they had hearing aids; however, the sound coming out of the telephone needs to be lined up with the hearing aid microphones, which can be located on the top of your hearing aid.
- Most hearing aids now have direct connectivity with cellphones. Some only connect with iPhones, while others connect with Androids. Depending on your hearing aid, you might need an intermediary device to connect to your phone.
- Use FaceTime or Skype to communicate with loved ones. Visual cues help your brain fill in the information that your ears may not have heard. Even those without hearing loss rely on visual cues, believe it or not.
- One option available to all individuals with hearing loss is CaptionCall. This is a special phone that captions the conversation and displays the text on a large screen for the listener to read. It is free of charge, and the program is federally funded by the FCC as part of the Americans with Disabilities Act. An audiologist is required to sign a certification form verifying that the individual has hearing loss. Otherwise, all that is necessary is an internet connection and a standard home phone connection. The CaptionCall organization will come to your home and install the device for you. There are also mobile CaptionCall options available for a cellphone or an iPad.
Communicating with loved ones who are far away can be an obstacle for many people with hearing loss; however, there are options available to you to reduce the stress of communicating over the phone.
By Dr. Haiden Nunn, contributing writer and provider at North Georgia Audiology & Hearing Aid Center.