Like most people with hearing loss, I regularly have trouble hearing on the phone. I make religious use of my amplified headset and the volume control on my speakerphone, but sometimes, it is not enough. It can be embarrassing to keep asking someone to repeat themselves, and dangerous if important information is being conveyed. I remember one phone call with an editor where I kept repeating what I thought I had heard to keep the conversation moving forward. It was very stressful and difficult for both of us.
After that call, I decided to try a captioned phone to see what benefits it would bring. It has only been a few weeks, but I am very pleased with it.
You use a captioned phone just like a normal phone, answering and placing calls by picking up the handset. Mine also has a speakerphone which lets me keep my hands free. The volume of the handset and the speakerphone is adjustable, as well as the volume of the ring. This lets me use my residual hearing in addition to the captions.
The technician told me that blue tooth connections are coming soon so one day I may be able to link my cell phone to it, but not yet.
In practice, I don’t always start a call with my captioned phone — only with people I know I will have trouble hearing or for an important business call where there is no room for error. But if I realize I need additional help understanding once a regular call is underway, I simply pick up the handset of the captioned phone (I keep two phones in my office — a regular phone and the captioned phone) and the captions begin. I can then swap over to the captioned phone to continue my call.
People who have more difficulty hearing on the phone may choose to use the captioned phone for all calls. The good news is that it is flexible, based on your specific needs.
How To Get A Captioned Phone
Getting a captioned phone was easy. I visited the website of my chosen provider to register and filled out a few forms. One of the forms needed to be signed by my audiologist confirming my hearing loss. Once the information was submitted, I was able to schedule an installation appointment. A friendly technician arrived at my home a week later and in under an hour, I was ready to go.
And it is free! Part of the Americans with Disabilities Act created a fund to supply captioned telephone service to individuals with hearing loss at no cost to them. Fees come out of surcharges that were historically part of land line phone bills. Most of us have probably paid these surcharges ourselves over the years. It is nice that we are benefiting from that now.
There are several providers of captioned phones including CapTel, CaptionCall, ClearCaptions and others. Each has unique features and a variety of phone models, so check out the company websites to see which one is best for you.
How Does The Captioning Work?
In most cases, the captioning involves a live captioner who is on the line during your call. The captions are created in real-time as the conversation takes place. There is a bit of a time delay and there are occasional errors in the captioning, similar to live captioning generally, but it is workable.
Companies follow strict privacy regulations so none of the conversations are recorded. A transcript can be saved on some phones, however, so you can reference the conversation at another time if need be.
If you have trouble hearing on the phone, give a captioned phone a try. I am very pleased with mine.
Readers, do you have a captioned phone?
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