voice telephones for people with hearing loss
Difficulty with or the inability to use a standard voice
telephone is one of the frustrating aspects of hearing loss.
Fortunately, technological advances have greatly improved telephone
utility to people with hearing loss. From something as simple as an
amplified telephone to specialized handsets and electronic band
adjustments, a variety of devices are available to assist people with
hearing loss in using the voice telephone.
about cell phones. They've become hugely popular in the past few years.
Can people with hearing loss use Cell Phones?
you heard about VoIP (Voice over Internet
Protocol)? It's the next big thing in telecommunications technology.
September 2012 - Clarity's Alto Amplified
Phone Certified as TIA-4953 Compliant
June 2011 - You CAN Hear Better on an Internet Phone!
June 2011 - Sprint Launches Bundle of Android Apps for
Hearing Loss Applications
February 2011 - Understanding Amplified Phones: More than
Just Making Speech Louder
August 2009 - Real-time text capability on horizon
July 2009 - HLAA
Convention: Clarity Amplified Phones
June 2009 - Report
on Panasonic Phones from HLAA Convention
January 2008 - Cordless
Phones to be Hearing Aid Compatible
October 2006 - Walgreens to Sell Phone for People with
September 2006 -
Telephone Options for Cochlear Implant Users
2004 - Here's another article on a lipreadable phone,
this time from England!
March 2004 - Looking for some
advice on what to look for in a phone? Then this
article by Cindy Shapiro may be just what you're looking for!
March 2003 - Many people with
hearing loss are unable to use the phone, because they can't see the
speaker's lips - until now! Israeli Invention Allows
Lipreading on the Phone
2002 - Many businesses are converting their phone systems from analog to
digital. You may not like what this means for people with hearing loss.
are some of the issues.
2002 - Access to Telecommunications
- Interested in how a Tcoil works? How about what makes a telephone
hearing aid compatible? Ron Vickery's interesting article
explains these concepts and lots more about telecoils and telephones.
2001 - The Chinese have announced an interesting new vibration-enhanced
telephone that may provide a significantly better telephone
experience for some people with hearing loss.
November 2000 - Confused about all the new features you
can get on a phone? Wonder about which ones you can use with the relay
service? The ALDACON 2000 Telecomm
Shopping for the Millennium workshop may be just the information you
More on this and related
Clarity's Alto amplified telephone is reportedly
the first telephone to receive certification that the phone is compliant
under the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) new standard for
sound amplification in telephones for people with hearing loss. The new
TIA-4953 standard, published in May 2012, establishes the first official
industry benchmarks for telephones designed for individuals with hearing
loss. The purpose of TIA-4953 is to provide consumers with hearing loss
with objective information to verify how a specific model will help them
to communicate on the telephone. The TIA-4953 standard establishes
performance metrics for telephones serving individuals with mild,
moderate, or severe hearing loss. The standard requires laboratory based
testing, using specialized telephone test equipment, to measure sound
amplification (volume control gain), tone control, simulated use for
hearing aid users, and the sound level of the ringer. The telephone sound
output must meet stringent noise and distortion requirements even for the
highly amplified settings.
As a young professor of physics, Wallace Sabine
made his mark at Harvard University in 1895 by studying the poor acoustics
of two newly built lecture halls. His studies came at the urgent request
of Harvard's president who fielded numerous complaints about the inability
to hear and understand the lectures in these halls. Professor Sabine-who
eventually became known as the "father of architectural acoustics" in the
United States, and the unit "sabin" now defines the acoustic absorption of
various materials-outlined the components necessary to achieve good
hearing within structures. Essentially, he stated that:
speech must be sufficiently loud;
simultaneous components of speech (ie, the vowel sounds versus the
consonant sounds) must maintain their relative properties;
successive sounds of rapidly moving articulation should be clear and
distinct from each other; and
speech sound must be distinct from extraneous noise.
The next big advance in telecommunications may be
a silent one. Widespread access to technology known as real-time text is
likely on the way, largely as a result of the deaf community's petitions
for increased accessibility. Real-time text allows users at each end of a
conversation to see each character as it is typed, even before they hit
the "send" button. It would allow users to integrate text into their voice
conversations, allowing them to type out addresses and names that are
otherwise tricky to communicate. <snip> Every new phone will support
real-time text if the federal agency that oversees accessibility for the
disabled - the U.S. Access Board - adopts new regulations. And that is a
move it is likely to make within the next few years, according to Mr.
Tearney's wonderful article on phones for CI users appeared in the
March/April 2006 edition of "Hearing Loss" magazine. It's really a great
read for all CI users who are interested in maximizing their ability to
use the phone. Her article addressed such topics as:
your Speech Discrimination Skills
Phone Features to your Advantage
Accessories for Landline Telephones
Implant Compatible Cell Phones
the Cellular Handset
Accessories for Cellular Compatibility
Pocket Speak and Read (photo 12)
for Phone Listening Practice
for Cellular/Cordless Telephones
Messaging Device for Cellular/ Cordless Telephones
Telephones for Individuals with Hearing Loss
complete article, please point your browser to:
I've recently seen a couple of stories about a new technology that
allows a person to lipread over the phone. LipC was created by an
Israeli company called SpeechView, and it is being marketed in
conjunction with an Israeli cell phone provider called Cellcom.
A LipC user connects her phone to a computer that is running the LipC
software; the software uses voice recognition technology to convert
speech into a visual image of a face that is producing the speech. That
image is displayed on the computer screen. In addition to the
representation of the face, LipC uses patches of color on the nose,
cheeks, and throat to help distinguish between sounds that are difficult
or impossible to differentiate through lipreading alone.
LipC will work with any phonetic language, although it has currently
been adapted to only English and Hebrew. SpeechView provides
instructional kits to help users become proficient, a process that the
company estimates takes two or three days. LipC costs about $150.
I think LipC sounds like a great idea, and the potential is there,
but I see a couple of potential difficulties.
One is the use of voice recognition on random voices. That
application does not work very well when the goal is to convert the
voices to text. I believe that producing phonemes (component sounds of
language) is easier than producing text, so the analogy to more
conventional voice recognition applications may not be appropriate.
The second difficulty is that some people just aren't good lipreaders.
Lipreading seems to be a talent that some have and others don't. I do
believe that anyone can improve with instruction and practice, but I
don't believe that everyone can become sufficiently proficient to use a
technology like LipC.
For additional information, and to see a LipC demonstration, please
point your browser to http://www.speechview.com/. And if anyone has
tried this product, I'd love to hear your thoughts.