I hate talking on the phone! Some people I hate talking to more than others.
Let me clarify. It is not because I don’t like them personally or that I don’t like what they have to say but rather that I find them so hard to understand over the phone. Maybe they are too softly spoken, or they speak too quickly or they get frustrated easily if I ask them to repeat something.
I would much rather send a n e-mail or text message any day!
More than anything, I dread calling customer service numbers because I always seem to miss something that they say. I worked in a number of call centres over a period of 15 years, so I know first hand just how many factors can contribute to making that customer service rep hard to understand.
If I can’t avoid a phone call, I usually barricade myself in my study at home to make it as quiet as possible and I try to make the call using my Roger Pen or another device to stream the voice of the other party straight to my hearing aids.
More often than not, I manage to get through the call with my sanity still mostly intact but it can be so mentally and physically draining, especially if it was an important call. Many times I’m so focused on just trying to understand the conversation that I can’t concentrate on things such as taking notes or asking relevant questions.
Phones for the hearing impaired
There are a number of hearing impaired telephones available which offer higher amplification than a standard phone, but more volume is not always the answer.
While raising the volume can be a great benefit to those with a conductive hearing loss; for someone with a sensorineural hearing loss (sometimes referred to as nerve deafness), making things louder can actually make it no easier or even sometimes harder to understand what is being said.
An alternative is a phone that works in conjunction with the telecoil (or t-switch) on a hearing aid. These phones can transmit the sound of the other party via magnetic induction and, by enabling the telecoil, you can have the other party’s voice transmitted directly to your hearing aid; bypassing its microphone. This can be really useful if there is background noise as your hearing aid is only receiving the signal from the phone.
Again however, this is not the ideal solution for everyone.
The biggest problem with most of the hearing impaired phones available is that you are still reliant upon your hearing to use them. If you have poor or even below normal speech discrimination (which is your ability to decipher the sounds of speech into actual meaningful words) then you are going to struggle understanding on the phone much of the time.
Here’s where the Captel phone enters the picture
While not the only feature offered; live captioning of what the other party is saying means that you don’t have to rely solely upon your hearing to be able to use the telephone. Now you can read what is being said, as it is being said.
The Captel also has some other useful features:
- Big screen and buttons;
- Volume control, allowing up to 40 dB gain for captioned calls;
- The hand piece has an induction loop contained within, which means it will work with your hearing aid’s telecoil setting if required;
- Tone control, so you can enhance the low, medium or high frequency tones to find the range you hear best;
- A customer service button so, if you ever need assistance using the phone, the Help Desk is only a button push away.
How does it work?
The Captel phone connects to both your telephone service and to your internet service. Whenever you make or receive a phone call, the phone uses the internet connection to access a free captioning service. An operator at the captioning service uses voice recognition technology to generate captions of everything the other party says and sends the captions back to the Captel phone.
The Captel phone is available via AccessComm who will not only come to your home and install the phone but also an internet connection if you don’t currently have one. They also offer ongoing support.
And the cost?
The Captel phone costs only $55 per year to rent, plus a one off $50 refundable deposit. The captioning service itself is available at no cost. Internet costs are your responsibility, however the phone’s internet usage is minimal.
Until 31st May 2016, there is a special offer where the deposit and rental are waived. Anyone who gets the phone during this period will never have to pay rental costs for the time they have the phone.
For more information contact AccessComm on 1300 107 546 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Blamey Saunders clients – ask for a demonstration during your next clinic visit.
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Daniel Pistritto was diagnosed with a progressive hearing impairment in his early teens but he was determined to find a way to help others with hearing loss. Daniel is now an Audiometrist at Blamey Saunders hears and also tests and reviews assistive communications devices. “Knowing that I’m helping to give back to a client one of their most vital means for communication is rewarding beyond measure”.