Assistive Products for Deaf and Hard of Hearing



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Learn About Amplified Telephones for Hearing Loss


Amplified Telephones

Many of us take for granted life's simple joys, such as talking to our loved ones on the telephone. For people with a hearing loss, this can quickly become a frustrating and embarrassing experience. For them, standard phones can actually make voices sound muffled and words more difficult to understand. This causes many people with hearing loss to stop using the phone altogether.

Harris Communications offers amplified telephones designed for people with a hearing loss, offering a simple and enjoyable way to communicate on the telephone with their friends and family. Amplified telephones allow you to turn up the volume to a level that's loud enough where you can hear comfortably and clearly, even with a hearing loss. Not only do amplified phones do more than just turn up the volume for you - they have a wonderful feature called "tone control."

Amplified telephones with tone control can dramatically increase the clarity of a conversation by amplifying certain frequencies of sound that are otherwise normally difficult to hear. Tone control virtually eliminates the inability to hear certain voices or sounds by adjusting the actual frequency of the sounds that are being heard, making it easier to hear and understand the entire conversation. For example, most people with a hearing loss have a high-frequency hearing loss, which makes it more difficult to hear soft sounds, such as consonants. This can also make it more difficult to hear the voices of women or children, as they are typically higher pitched than men's voices.

All of our amplified telephones are Hearing Aid Compatible (HAC), meaning they are designed to virtually eliminate any of the feedback or interference sometimes experienced with hearing aids. We also have some cordless phone models that meet or exceed the TIA-1083 standard for digital cordless telephones. This higher compatibility standard was developed to further reduce interference that digital cordless phone technology was causing with hearing aids. Cordless phones that meet the TIA-1083 standard provide the clearest possible sound for those who are hearing aid wearers. Telephones with hearing aid compatibility can be used by people without a hearing loss or hearing aids.

Choosing an amplified telephone

The most important step in choosing an amplified phone is determining the amount of amplification you need to hear more comfortably and clearly on the phone. This depends on the level of your hearing loss. As a general rule of thumb, hearing loss can be categorized as either mild, moderate or severe. If you're not sure which category you fall under, we have developed some basic guidelines below to help you estimate the level of your hearing loss. It may also be a good idea to have your hearing checked by a licensed hearing health professional, such as an audiologist or hearing aid dispenser, as they can give you a more accurate assessment of your hearing loss.

Once you've determined which category you fall under, the next step is to find an amplified phone that fits your level of hearing loss. We've developed a color scale system that shows which phones we suggest depending on the severity of your hearing loss. These phone amplification scales can be found throughout our catalog, website and comparison charts to help you quickly determine which amplified phones are right for you.

Mild Hearing Loss
If you miss occasional words or strain to hear on the phone, but still manage to get through the conversation, we recommend a phone with up to 30dB of amplification. These phones are ideal for people with mild hearing loss.

Moderate Hearing Loss
If you find yourself constantly asking the person on the other end of the phone to repeat what they're saying, we recommend a phone with 30-45dB of amplification. These phones are ideal for people with moderate hearing loss.

Severe Hearing Loss
If you've decided to stop using the phone altogether because you can hardly hear anything at all, or are only able to hear certain people's voices, we recommend a phone with 50dB or more of amplification. These phones are ideal for people with severe hearing loss.

Keep in mind that hearing loss can be degenerative. It may be a good idea to get a phone with a little more amplification than you currently need, as you can always turn the volume down if it's too loud.

Did you know? We also have a simple and inexpensive way to bring phone amplification with you when traveling or going to work! A telephone amplifier might be all you need when you want to hear on the phone at a friend's house, hotel, or even work. They are small enough to fit into a bag or purse, making them easy to take with you.

There are two types of telephone amplifiers:


Portable telephone amplifiers
These amplify incoming sounds up to 30dB, and are great for those who have a mild-to-moderate hearing loss. They simply attach to the handset on a standard telephone and have a built-in volume control that allows you to turn up the volume to your desired level. All they take are a few batteries and they're ready to go!
In-line telephone amplifiers
These amplify incoming sounds up to 40dB, and are great for those with a moderate-to-severe hearing loss. These connect directly between the handset and the base of a corded telephone. In-line amplifiers are compatible with all analog and most digital phones, making them a great option for amplifying your telephone at work. Many of our in-line amplifiers also have the added benefit of "tone control," allowing you to adjust the frequency of sounds you are hearing in order to hear the entire conversation more clearly.

Now that you can hear on the telephone, how will you hear it ring?

Fortunately, most of our amplified telephones have a built-in extra loud ringer and visual indicator, making it easy to hear the phone ring. However, it can sometimes be difficult to hear the phone ring if you're in another room. Telephone ring signalers that can connect to any telephone or plug into any telephone jack in your home. These ring signalers are designed to alert you of an incoming call in a number of ways:

Loud Audible Ringer: Most of our loud phone ring signalers are equipped with tone control and can ring up to 95dB, which is about 5x louder than a standard telephone rings.

Flashing Strobe Light: Most of our signalers are equipped with a bright flashing strobe light, offering you visual notification when the phone rings.

Tactile Notification: A handful of signalers have the added ability to plug in a bed shaker that can be placed under a mattress or pillow, which will then vibrate when the phone rings. If you wear hearing aids, this is especially useful at night when you're asleep and don't have your hearing aids in, but still want to know if the phone rings. This is also a great feature for deaf people.



Amplified Emergency Telephones

Amplified Emergency Telephones offer all the same benefits as our regular amplified phones, but also offer independence and peace of mind for aging parents and their families. These phones have an "emergency connect" function that can help keep elderly people safe in the event an emergency prevents them from reaching the phone.

Here's how it works:
1. Program the phone numbers of family, friends, neighbors, and/or emergency personnel into the phone.
2. Wear the pendant around your wrist or neck during your daily activities at home.
3. In the event of an emergency (ie: you fall down), simply push the button on the pendant to activate the speakerphone and the phone will automatically begin dialing your pre-programmed emergency contacts. It will keep dialing numbers until someone answers.
4. The phone will then play a pre-programmed emergency message, or one that you have recorded, informing the person on the other line that you need help right away. A two-way conversation then begins.

Did you know? There are no monthly fees with these products!

Cell Phone Accessories & Amplified Cell Phones

Cell Phone Accessories

Most mainstream cell phones simply aren't loud enough for those with a hearing loss. Fortunately there are several accessories available that, when paired with your cell phone, will give you the extra boost you need to hear on your cell phone clearly. These accessories also allow you to talk on your phone hands-free.

We offer accessories that work with your cell phone in one of two ways:


Wireless Bluetooth technology
We encourage the use of Bluetooth cell phone accessories because of their convenience and compatibility. Today, most cell phones are equipped with Bluetooth capability. Bluetooth is a wireless technology that uses radio waves to connect electronic devices up to 30 feet apart. It is a secure and inexpensive way to communicate with your family and friends effortlessly. Bluetooth allows you to use your cell phone hands-free and wirelessly, with no annoying cords to get in the way. If you're unsure if your phone is Bluetooth-capable, simply contact your service provider to find out.
Direct connection
This is a simple and inexpensive solution that allows you to directly connect a listening accessory to your cell phone. You simply plug the device into the headset jack (typically 2.5mm or 3.5mm) on your cell phone. Direct connection requires no initial setup - you just plug it in and go! With this solution you are still able to be hands-free, although there will be a cord running from your phone to the device.

Regardless of whether you go with Bluetooth technology or direct connection, there are three main wearing styles available:

Neckloop
This style is great for people with t-coil equipped hearing aid(s). It is worn around the neck comfortably and discreetly and sends sound directly to your hearing aids through magnetic waves. Most neckloops have their own volume control, which allows for more amplification beyond what your phone offers. Some neckloops also allow you to plug in headphones if the user does not have telecoil equipped hearing aids.
Silhouette ear hook
This style is also great for people with t-coil equipped hearing aid(s). The silhouette rests gently on the user's ear, next to the hearing aid. Because it is placed in close proximity to the hearing aid, the silhouette provides a more direct sound signal to the hearing aid than a neckloop. This style may work better for some people, depending on the position of the actual telecoil in their hearing aid. But for the most part, neckloops should work great for more people.
Earbuds/earphones
This style is great for those who do not have hearing aids. They are placed just inside the ear canal, helping block out background noise.


Amplified Cell Phones

We also offer a few amplified cell phones for people with a mild to moderate hearing loss. They are hearing aid compatible (HAC) and are designed to be fairly simple to operate. These cell phones are unlocked GSM phones that allow you to choose your own GSM provider, such as AT&T or T-Mobile in the United States.

We hope you've found this guide useful. Feel free to share it with your friends, family, colleagues, or anyone else you think could benefit from this information!
Click here to download a PDF of the "Assistive Technology Guide." To begin shopping, click one of the boxes below!

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