Amplified phones

Contributed by Paul Dybala, PhD, president, Healthy Hearing
This content was last reviewed on: May 16th, 20172017-05-16 08:30:00

Hearing loss can make everyday phone conversations frustrating. Amplified phones can make phone calls enjoyable again. Learn about the different types of amplified phones and if they might help you.

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For those with hearing loss, everyday activities like talking on the phone can be challenging. While some people might avoid talking on the phone so their friends and family don't get frustrated with repeating themselves, it's important to stay in contact with loved ones.

smiling couple talking on phone in front of computer
Catching up with family and friends can 
be fun again with an amplified phone.

Studies show people with hearing loss who become isolated have a higher chance of depression compared with those who maintain strong ties with friends and family members. With the help of amplified phones, you can stay in contact with old friends and even make new ones!

What is an amplified telephone?

Amplified phones are specifically designed for people with hearing loss, allowing you to turn up the volume as necessary to hear speech clearly. Amplified phones also have features that make it easier to hear high-pitched noises, which many people with hearing loss find challenging. 

If you have to ask others to repeat themselves often or you avoid phone calls altogether, you might benefit from an amplified phone!

You can purchase an amplified phone with or without a cord or even a mobile phone, depending on your preference. Phones will have special features such as caller ID, large number keys and a speakerphone, which should all be considered. Some phones have the capability to work with a headset, photo dialing, backlit keypads, answering machine or wall mounts. Some phones will also have special alerts that let you know if the phone is not hung up correctly.

Do I need an amplified phone?

People with hearing loss have many resources available to make it easier to understand others and communicate properly. If you are unsure if getting an amplified phone is the best option for you, here are some considerations:

  • How often do you ask family members and friends to repeat themselves while on the phone?
  • Are you constantly turning up the volume on the radio or television?
  • Is it difficult to understand conversations in loud restaurants or crowded rooms?
  • Do you avoid talking on the phone because it is hard to hear the person on the other end of the phone?
  • Do you find yourself avoiding social situations because you are hard of hearing?
  • Is hearing more difficult in open spaces than in a closed room?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, chances are you can greatly benefit from having an amplified phone.

Degree of hearing loss

When you are finding the perfect amplified phone to buy, you will need to consider your degree of hearing loss, so that the product you purchase has the clearest quality. The best way to find your degree of hearing loss is by getting a comprehensive hearing evaluation:

Mild hearing loss: If you have mild hearing loss, you probably have trouble picking up 100 percent of a conversation easily. People with a mild condition may strain while chatting with someone because sounds like "f" and "th" can be difficult to decipher. Mild hearing loss is defined as being able to hear speech between 26 and 40 decibels.

Moderate hearing loss: Do you find yourself constantly asking other people to repeat themselves? If so, you might be categorized as having moderate hearing loss. People with moderate hearing loss generally are able to hear sounds between 40 and 70 decibels.

Severe hearing loss: If you have severe hearing loss, chances are you are using hearing aids on a regular basis in order to hear sounds and understand speech. People with severe hearing loss can only hear sounds between 70 and 90 decibels. People with severe hearing loss will benefit from a phone with high amplification.

A hearing test with a qualified hearing care professional can determine your specific degree of hearing loss, you can find the perfect phone that suits your needs.

Types of amplifiers

If you travel often or need to understand telephone conversations both at home and at work, you may benefit from using a telephone amplifier, which increases the volume of the existing phone.

In-line amplifiers

Compatible with both digital and analog phones, in-line telephone amplifiers are best for people with moderate to severe hearing loss. These devices increase sound by up to 40 decibels, and you can control the tone of speech.

Portable amplifiers

People with mild to moderate hearing loss can benefit from using a portable amplifier, which increases sounds by up to 30 decibels. These small devices attach to the headset on a telephone, with a built-in control for volume, so it's simple to make the conversation louder or softer. This is a great option for people who talk on the phone on a regular basis, because an incoming caller may have different settings on their phone.

Ringers

Do you ever find that you have missed calls completely because you can't hear the telephone ring? Many amplified phones have settings that allow you to turn up the volume on the ringer so that you never miss an important call again. Some models will even have a visual indicator, like a flashing light, so you can see when you are receiving an incoming call. Some phones have the capability of ringing up to five times louder than a traditional telephone. 

Telecoils

If you're a hearing aid wearer, you may have a telecoil in your hearing aids. With the flip of a small switch, you can make sure that your hearing aids are only picking up the sound that is coming through the telephone, and not background noise around you.

Talk to a hearing care professional

Hearing healthcare professionals often display and demonstrate amplified phones. You may be able to try different models to see how they work for you. A local practitioner can also help you determine whether you qualify for free or reduced-rate phones from resources in your area.

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