Hearing Loss: Why My Phone Rings on My Wrist

My family got matching fitness trackers for the holidays to help us stay motivated and active as the weather turns colder. We wore them on our holiday trip to the Caribbean where we competed daily to see who could get the most steps. My children always won (of course), but it was fun to see who would come in second and third. I seemed to always come in fourth since my morning exercise was yoga rather than running. Not a lot of steps in yoga.

What does this have to do with hearing loss? Not a lot so far, but on the second day I wore the Fitbit, it started vibrating. It was way too early in the day for me to have reached my step goal. I looked at my wrist and saw a phone number running across the display. I had a phone call! I ran to my cell phone and answered it. A life changing moment.

I have missed dozens of cell phone calls in my day. I just don’t hear the phone ring unless I am right near it. Sometimes I will feel it vibrate if I am carrying my purse, but many times, I will see the missed call or voicemail message later in the day. It is frustrating for everyone, but my friends and family know that if something is important — text me or try calling me again. I may be available, just unaware of the call.

But now I can receive this information on my wrist! My Fitbit vibrates when the phone rings or when I get a text message. It even reminds me of upcoming appointments. Wow!

Missing alerts is a serious problem for people with hearing loss — and not just for phone calls. Fire alarms, door bells, and alarm clocks are all easily overlooked if you can’t hear them. Several products exist to help with these important issues — smoke / carbon monoxide detectors and door bells with strobe lights and shaker alarm clocks — but it is nice that products are becoming available to deal with smaller problems too.

With more wearable technology emerging, there are likely to be many new products that can be used by people with hearing loss to stay informed and be alerted to danger, or even an incoming phone call. A google search displayed a plethora of smart watches that perform similar functions to my Fitbit as well as a product called Ditto that you clip to your clothing. I can’t wait to see what innovations are yet to come.

Readers, would you wear something that alerted you to phone calls and text messages?

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32 thoughts on “Hearing Loss: Why My Phone Rings on My Wrist

  1. I just bought new oticon hearing aids this year. My cell phone rings directly in the hearing aids, as does all the calls, media on my phone such as videos etc.

  2. For Christmas I received an apple watch 2 – it vibrates on my wrist to notify me of txt messages & phone calls – works GREAT! I also love that it links with my hearing aid app so I can change settings right from my watch when I go into a store, restaurant, etc. I am newly diagnosed and adjusting to hearing aids at 46yrs old – love the technology options that are available to make life easier! Really appreciate your blog – has been very helpful!!! 🙂

  3. For Christmas I received the Apple Watch 2 – it vibrates on my wrist to notify of txt messages & phone calls – works GREAT! I also like that it links directly with my hearing aid app so I can change settings right from my watch when I go into a store, restaurant, car, etc. I am newly diagnosed & adjusting to hearing aids at 46yrs old – love all the technology options available to make life easier. I also really appreciate your blog – it has been very helpful! 🙂

  4. A timely reminder, Shari. I definitely need to do something about a vibrating (or something) notification for waking up and phone calls and perhaps even the doorbell. I think a strobe light would wake me.

    I never considered the Fitbit as a possible solution. I’ll have to look into that. I have thought of the Apple Watch but that’s a bit pricy if what I want is a notification.

    Right now, except for the wake up signal, I can use my phone through the Phonak ComPilot that sends the signal to my CI and HA together. All i have to do is to touch the button on the ComPilot. I think there’s a touch of irony in all this. 🙂

    I’m really going to look into the Fitbit. Thanks for the tip. I think it also monitors pulse as well – right? A good piece of information while on the treadmill.

  5. I have also used the OTICON hearing aids, paired with a bluetooth streamer (worn around the neck on a loop) and wireless microphone, as well as with my cell phone.
    When my phone rings, my phone vibrates and the speech sounds of the person calling me, get piped directly into my hearing aids! Hands free operation!
    In a noisy room (restaurant), I ask people to speak directly into the wireless microphone; speech sounds of person talking, are piped directly into my hearing aids…thereby, filtering out background noise (which always made it very difficult for me to discriminate speech sounds of individual people talking.

    Yesterday, i received my new hearing aids…PHONAK…same deal, except that I must say that technology has greatly improved since 2012. The PHONAK hearing aids are paired with the cell phone, via the bluetooth streaming device. So, basically, I’m using the new equipment in a similar fashion. Sound quality and filtering out background noise is just better!

    Oh and I also have an Apple watch. It is also paired with my iPhone. It vibrates when my cell phone rings.

    I’m covered on so many bases. It’s really wonderful. I almost never miss a phone call.

  6. I know if you have issues hearing your phone, you can usully set it to do a LED flash in settings. I know this is possibly in Samsung and Apple devices.

  7. Yes I most definitely would and also have a similar problem. My alarm is exceedinly loud which is a bit unfair on my partner although he maintains that he’s too deep a sleeper for it to phase him. I don’t really hear my door bell or buzzer which is a shame and I do also miss phone calls. I have a fitbit too but didn’t realise it could do this – is it just latest versions of it?! How do I set this up?

    • Many of the newer versions do it. In settings there is a section for notifications where you can turn on the ones that you want. Some models also have silent alarms that will vibrate on your wrist. I hope your model has it.

  8. The DITTO is a great yet tiny in size device that will alert a person by vibration to a number of events happening on your cell phone such as.
    An incoming call, An email, A text message, A facebook alert, even advise you for Uber arriving to pick you up. The device is waterproof, discrete and can be clipped to your clothes or worn on the wrist.
    My father wears his DITTO on his shirt caller when he is on the tractor cutting grass. This way he never misses a text saying it is lunchtime 🙂 as he feels the DITTO vibrate against his collar bone; where even with the cell phone is his pocket, due to the vibration of the tractor, he would not realize the phone was vibrating.

  9. This is sorta off subject but how do you understand on the phone? Do you use captioning on landline/cell. The phone is the worst thing for me. I drive to wherever to make and apt with whoever. It is maddening. Any body have any solutions for me. I need to look into the fitbit.

    • i find that people on a business or landline are easier to understand than people on a cellphone since cellphones have a narrower bandwidth. Also if someone is not speaking directly into the phone like if they’re using a speaker or car phone that makes the signal much less intelligible for me. Also InnoCaption has been a lifesaver for me on business calls.

  10. OH!!
    I got my nephew a fit bit for Hanukkah. I don’t know my sister would be completely enamored of a fitness wearable but she would adore the ability to not miss a call because of her hearing!!

  11. It’s funny you bring this up, I have a fit bit as well, this morning we were getting ready to have a meeting, and my boss was calling me on my cell, I was getting things prepared when suddenly my wrist started vibrating! You have no idea how many times it has saved me..love my fit bit!! It’s well worth the money! Love it as well when I received a text alert. I have not tried the reminder portion of it…

  12. I have a bunch of classes in the mornings that I need to wake up for and I tried the noise alarms and they would wake everyone else in the house and not me! Then I got a Fitbit and I could put multiple alarms and I actually woke up, it was great! I later lost it (and I looked basically everywhere), so with classes starting up again I need to get myself another Fitbit.

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