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Hearing Aid Compatible Phones: What to Know Before You Buy

a hearing aid in a hand

If you use hearing aids, talking on the phone can be difficult. But there are hearing aids compatible phones available to ensure that you always get a clear signal. When purchasing a phone that works effectively in conjunction with your hearing aids, there are a few factors that you need to consider. 

Is your hearing loss mild, moderate or severe? How often do you use the phone? Do you need a landline or a cellphone? It’s important that you answer all these questions when looking for a new phone. The problem is, the technology is always changing, so it can be difficult to know which phone is best for you. The best thing to do is speak with an audiologist and get their advice. They may also be able to help you set up your phone so you can get the clearest possible signal. When you shop for phones, you should also ensure that you have enough time to test out some different models before you buy. 

If you are shopping for a hearing aid compatible phone, this guide will help you to choose the right one. 

Cellphones

Cellphones or smartphones are the most common kind of phone in use today. The number of people that use landlines is dropping and it is likely that you use a cellphone daily. The good news is shopping for a cellphone that is compatible with your hearing aids is easy because the Federal Communications Commission requires that all cellphones are compatible with hearing aids.

If you have mild or moderate hearing loss you probably do not need to adjust your cellphone. Most modern phones have what is known as acoustic coupling. This means that your hearing aids will automatically pick up sound from the phone. However, you may also pick up some background noise. If you want to reduce that background noise, you need to look at the M rating on the phone. This is a rating from one to four, with four being the best rating for hearing aid compatibility. All iPhones currently on sale have an M rating of three, which is fine for people with mild to moderate hearing loss. 

If you have a higher level of hearing impairment, it is important that the telecoil feature on your hearing aids is switched on. Depending on your hearing aids, it may switch on automatically or you may have to do it manually. If you are using the telecoil on your hearing aids, you should check the T rating on cellphones. This rating works in the same way as the M rating, and you will find that most modern phones have a T rating of four. If you are unsure about how to use the telecoil on your hearing aids, speak with your audiologist for more advice. 

Landlines

The Federal Communications Commission requires that all workplace, public and emergency phones are hearing aid compatible, but the same rules do not apply to personal landline phones. 

When you are shopping for a landline phone, look for the same M and T ratings that you would when buying a cellphone. The same rules apply for standard and cordless landline phones. 

Often, people that experience hearing loss find that landline phones are better. They do not rely on the cellphone network, so you get a clearer signal overall, which improves your experience when using hearing aids. There are also landlines available that have specific features to help those with hearing impairments, like extra loud ringers and flashing lights for incoming calls. 

Other features to consider

Volume control: Volume control is an important feature if you are hard of hearing. Being able to increase the volume of the ring ensures that you do not miss calls. You may also want to change the volume of the call to find the right balance for your hearing aids. Your audiologist will be able to give you advice on altering call volume to produce a clearer signal. 

  • Speech-to-text: Phones with a speech-to-text feature allow you to read from the screen while also listening to the audio. This helps to maintain the conversation if the connection is particularly bad. 
  • Text: In some cases, it is a lot easier for somebody that experiences hearing loss to text instead of talk on the phone. When buying a cellphone, make sure to get a plan with unlimited messaging. 

If you are experiencing hearing loss and you would like to know more about hearing aid compatible phones or you need more general advice from an audiologist, Audiological Services of San Francisco are here to help. Give us a call at 415-346-6886.