Options for Those W/ Moderate to Profound Hearing Loss

By: Christine Peppler

As anyone with a hearing aid knows, communicating on a cell phone can be difficult. Feedback due to the proximity of the cell phone and the hearing aid is problematic and the lack of a good seal around the ear allows for interruption from outside noise. Selecting a hearing aid compatible cell phone and one with adequate volume certainly helps but doesn't guarantee high quality sound.

There are at least a couple of devices on the market now however that can prove helpful for such individuals in allowing them to communicate via cell phone much more easily.

First, for those who are deaf or have a profound hearing loss, there are VCO (voice carry over) machines that work with cell phones. The Ameriphone Q 90D is a TTY/VCO/HCO device is made for use with cell and cordless phones. Like any VCO phone, it has a screen on which text can appear. Calls are sent through a VCO relay service. The VCO phone allows the hearing impaired caller to speak into the handset and receive text responses from the person they are calling as the relay service assistant types them. Such service gives the hearing impaired caller the ability to communicate more naturally and more quickly than typing messages as they would with a traditional TTY or even when using text messaging. The Q 90D is a stationary device for the home or office as it weighs in at 14 pounds with a price around $200.

The Krown Pocket Speak and Read is a similar device that attaches to any handset or TTY compatible cell phone. It is highly portable, weighing only 6.4 ounces and attaches easily with a Velcro strap allowing an individual to use it with whatever phone is available and wherever they may go.

Another option that has emerged in recent years is HATIS; Hearing Aid Telephone Interconnect Systems. Hatis is an earpiece with an induction coupler that plugs into the audio jack of any phone. It is placed in the ear, over an in-the-ear aid or with a behind-the-ear aid directly behind it. It is then plugged into any audio jack on the device to which the person will be listening. It will connect with both cell phones and landline phones as well as devices such as CD and MP3 players, computers, PDAs, televisions, stereos, and so forth. The device is designed to work with T-coil (telecoil) hearing aids for those with moderate to profound hearing loss giving them the best possible audio quality.

Hatis listeners should experience no sound distortion as they move which is common with neckloops. It requires no batteries eliminating that cost as well as the problem of having them expire at an inopportune moment . It is extremely light weight at only ? of an ounce and is therefore almost unnoticeable to the wearer as well as others. A trial run with Hatis is available by talking with a local audiologist or visiting a Verizon Wireless store. The cost of these devices is around $150.

Devices such as the cell phone compatible VCO machines and the Hatis can certainly improve the communication options for those with moderate to profound hearing loss. These devices allow such individuals to take advantage of the convenience offered by cell phones and to enjoy more natural communication.

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