Over the past decade, cell phones have quickly become indispensable parts of everyday life. From talking or texting to finding directions, your cell phone is always within reach. For those with hearing loss, this is no different. But for people with hearing difficulties or hearing aids, one’s choice in cell phone can be a more crucial decision than most.
For those with hearing aids, it is important to choose a cell phone with bluetooth capabilities. Hearing aids today are bluetooth compatible, and some brands offer hands free cell phone usage. In addition to hands free telephone communication, some devices – such as the Oticon Opn – also afford easy music streaming.
So what should you look out for in addition to bluetooth adaptability?
Even without bluetooth connectivity, thanks to new FCC rules, its now easier to find a phone that will work with your hearing aids (or cochlear implants) than ever before. These rules require phone manufacturers and service providers to provide “less static, less interference, and better telecoil connections.”
ASHA writes: “Cell phones that work well with hearing aids will have a microphone (M) rating of M3 or M4. This means the cell phone will work with the hearing aid in the microphone position. A higher M number means the phone will sound clearer.” Using your cell microphone with your hearing aid is known as acoustic coupling.
If the phone you’re looking at has a telecoil connection (small coil inside your aid that works as a receiver, bypassing the microphone), that’s even better. your phone – hearing aid connection will be even clearer. A T3 or T4 phone rating is ideal.
With bluetooth, however, both M and T ratings – having your hearing aid interact with your phone’s microphone or telecoil – may now apply more to landline phone systems.
What if you don’t have a hearing aid, but believe you have hearing loss?
First of all, if you believe you have hearing loss, you should get your hearing tested as soon as possible. The earlier you get a plan in place, the better.
If you’re using the phone without a hearing aid, or while you’re waiting to get one, check to see if the phone has any features for the hard of hearing, such as speech to text, easy volume controls, and easily manipulated displays.
Anyone with a documented hearing loss can also get a free CaptionCall phone with certification from an audiologist. CaptionCall provides amplification and superb sound quality while displaying smooth-scrolling captions on a large, easy-to-read screen. And using CaptionCall is easy – “you dial and answer calls just like you always have.”
As we said at the top, it’s never been a better time for phone – hearing aid interaction.