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Voice telephones for people with hearing loss

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.

What about cell phones. They’ve become hugely popular in the past few years. Can people with hearing loss use Cell Phones?

Have 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 Hearing Loss

September 2006 – Telephone Options for Cochlear Implant Users

August 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

November 2002 – Many businesses are converting their phone systems from analog to digital. You may not like what this means for people with hearing loss. Here are some of the issues.

July 2002 – Access to Telecommunications

August 2001 – Interested in how a T coil works? How about what makes a telephone hearing aid compatible? Ron Vickery’s interesting article explains these concepts and lots more about tele coils and telephones.

May 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 need.

More on this and related topics


Clarity’s Alto Amplified Phone Certified as TIA-4953 Compliant

September 2012

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. Full Story


Understanding Amplified Phones: More than Just Making Speech Louder

February 2011

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:

  1. The speech must be sufficiently loud;
  2. The simultaneous components of speech (ie, the vowel sounds versus the consonant sounds) must maintain their relative properties;
  3. The successive sounds of rapidly moving articulation should be clear and distinct from each other; and
  4. The speech sound must be distinct from extraneous noise.

Full Story


Real-time text capability on horizon

August 2009

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. Vanderheiden.   Full Story


Telephone Options for Cochlear Implant Users


September 2006


Linn 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:


Getting Started

Choosing a Telephone

Evaluating your Speech Discrimination Skills

Using Phone Features to your Advantage

Accessories for Landline Telephones

Cochlear Implant Compatible Cell Phones

Selecting the Cellular Handset

Using Accessories for Cellular Compatibility

Krown Pocket Speak and Read (photo 12)

Resources for Phone Listening Practice

Telecoil Accessories

Telephone Adapters

Headsets for Cellular/Cordless Telephones

Text Messaging Device for Cellular/ Cordless Telephones

Specialty Telephones for Individuals with Hearing Loss


For the complete article, please point your browser to:http://www.shhh.org/magazine/2006MarApril/TearneyMA’06.doc


Israeli Invention Allows Lipreading on the Phone

March 2003

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.