A hearing-impaired phone offers a variety of features for people who have difficulty hearing.
A hearing-impaired phone is a phone with special features that assists the hearing impaired in making and receiving phone calls. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has several mandates that regulate the accessibility of telecommunications to the hearing impaired. In 1982, the Telecommunications for the Disabled Act required that workplaces, pay phones and public emergency phones work with hearing aids. In 1988, the Hearing Aid Compatibility Act mandated that telephone manufacturers create phones that work with telecoil hearing aids. Due to these mandates, hearing-impaired individuals can now use a hearing-impaired phone for business and personal reasons.
Depending on the severity of a person's hearing loss, some people have difficulty hearing or understanding conversations on a regular telephone. In general, a hearing-impaired phone offers extra volume control, amplification features, visual features for when the phone rings or is off the hook, and different speakerphone functions. There are a variety of hearing-impaired phone models on the market. A person with hearing difficulties will need to test each model to determine if that phone will work with their specific hearing loss. GE offers a variety of phones and classifies them by the severity of the hearing loss. A phone for mild hearing loss means a person cannot hear a whispered conversation at close range. Moderate-to-severe hearing loss means a person cannot hear a normal conversation at close range. Examples of features on a GE phone for mild hearing loss include:
Examples of features on a GE phone for severe hearing loss include:
According to the Hearing Loss Association of America, all hearing-aid compatible phones work with the telecoil hearing aid. The telecoil helps the hearing aid process only the words said on the phone. A hearing-aid compatible phone helps lessen background noise and interference. When hearing-aid compatible phones couple with hearing-impaired phone features, the telecommunications experience is louder and clearer for the hearing impaired.
CNN discussed a face phone designed for the hearing impaired. This phone works much differently than a regular hearing-impaired phone. Taking advantage of many hearing-impaired people's ability to read lips, this software-based phone allows a person to read the lips of a virtual face for a better understanding of the conversation. This type of hearing-impaired phone also helps increase the confidence of hearing-impaired people when making phone calls. Even with improvements of hearing-impaired phones, some hearing-impaired people still feel nervous when trying to communicate over the phone. A virtual face increases certainty about what the person on the other line is saying.