Hearing Impaired Phones

More than 30 percent of people over the age of sixty and 50 percent of people over the age of 85 suffer hearing loss, which sometimes can lead to near deafness. An estimated 10 percent of younger people – between 20 and 69 – may also suffer some hearing impairment due to excessive noise at home or work or through leisure activities, such as playing in a band. Deaf people and people who suffer from any amount of hearing loss can make phone conversations easier with the use of a hearing impaired phone. Use this deaf education guide to learn more about hearing impaired phones for the deaf community.

Telephone to Telephone Typewriter (TTY)

A telephone to telephone typewriter (TTY) is a telecommunications device for the deaf. This text-based device gives deaf people the ability to talk on the telephone effectively in both home and work environments. Deaf culture is constantly changing as these new forms of communicating are developed. There are more than 4 million users of the TTY in the U.S. alone. The TTY device resembles a laptop computer and features a full keyboard, modem, and display screen. The user types the message and the letters are transformed into electrical signals that are sent to the destination via phone lines. Once the message reaches its destination, signals are converted back into letters that appear on the display screen on the end of the deaf or hearing impaired user.

Telephone Amplifiers

There are several types of telephone amplifiers available that all work to amplify the sound of the recipient when talking on the telephone. Some units attach to the phone line, others are portable units, and some telephones have an amplification system built-in for hard of hearing or deaf people. Telephone amplifiers can be attached to nearly any type of landline, cordless, or cellular telephone. There are several options to choose from.

Phone Line Units: This type of amplifier connects between a phone handset and base to boost volume. Phone line units help to block out background noise and amplifies sound by more than 40 decibels. Specific frequencies are amplified to create clear speech and make words easy to distinguish. Phone line units are also small enough to be portable.

Portable Amplifier Units: The deaf community often uses portable amplifying devices as they are versatile and convenient. Portable amplifier units are inexpensive and can be used on nearly any landline phone. Many portable amplifying units have adjustable dials that allow the user to turn the volume up or down according to their specific needs. Some portable devices can increase volume by up to 30 decibels.

Dedicated Amplifier Telephones: Those who are hard of hearing or deaf commonly use dedicated amplifier telephones to make phone calls. These phones allow you to increase the volume by using an adjustable button or dial on the phone. Deafness can be a problem when using cell phones, as the radio frequency signals from cell phones often interfere with hearing aids, causing buzzing noises or other sounds. As deaf culture continues to expand, so have advancements in technology. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has required all cell-phone companies to provide several models that are hearing aid compatible.

Deaf education continues to be an important subject as more and more people are developing new and improved ways to help the hearing impaired. Advancements in technology have made it possible for the deaf community to perform common activities, such as talking on the telephone. Deafness and hearing impairment is quite common, especially in the older generation. Better understanding deaf culture through deaf education can help with future projects that can benefit the deaf community.