Closed-caption Phones Open Up Doors for People with Hearing Loss

Closed-caption Phones Open Up Doors for People with Hearing Loss


Hearing loss can detract from a person’s life in a myriad of little ways where gradual difficulties can accumulate into significant challenges. While hearing loss affects our overall health, our cognitive ability and even our earning power, the area people most poignantly feel hearing loss’ impact is through new problems communicating. Not being able to hear other people can lead to feelings of isolation and alienation and separate us from the people and activities we love the most. Hearing loss, if left unaddressed, can leave you feeling out of the loop and excluded from the conversation.

Fortunately, solutions exist to help people with hearing loss bridge those communication gaps. Hearing assistance can take the form of hearing aids or cochlear implants which help their users hear better everywhere they go. Specific assistive devices also exist to help the hearing-impaired stay safe and facilitate better communication. For example, instead of relying on sound-based alarms, a person with hearing loss may opt for a bed-shaker or vibrating alert that can help them wake up in the case of danger – or even just the start of a workday.

Improving the Phone

One major victory for disability rights was the passage of the ADA which, in part, codified the right for people with hearing and speech challenges to access appropriate telecommunications solutions. The ADA victory has helped make some assistive devices, like telephones adapted for the hearing impaired, widely available and often free-of-charge to qualified users.

Many states across the country have established programs to help people with hearing loss connect with assistive telephones, from try services and closed-captioned phones, to telephones that offer dramatically increased amplification. Just as people with hearing loss use diverse strategies to help them navigate the world around them, different telephone solutions accommodate different ways of hearing.

The Closed Caption Phone

Many people with hearing loss find using a standard telephone challenging. Vocal quality is often muffled and distorted through a telephone receiver. That’s where a live-captioned conversation can really improve access to talking with friends and loved ones.

Services like CapTel or CaptionCall make use of live captioners working in tandem with automatic speech-to-text translators to provide swift, accurate captioning for telephone calls. Using a landline telephone, captioning is delivered to a small screen attached to the phone which scrolls as the call progresses. A captioned call allows the phone user to engage in voice calls while keeping track of what is said via written text. Maintaining the vocal component of a phone call makes captioned phones more than simply texting. With the aid of a captioned phone it is possible to communicate with young children and doesn’t require the dexterity that texting does.

Each state has different programs available to help customers access captioned telephones. Here in Ohio, models of CapTel captioned telephones are made available to customers at a reduced cost and several counties are now helping people access close captioned phones free of charge.

Smarter All the Time

Better access to the phone doesn’t have to exclude the smart phone revolution. More modern hearing aids are incorporating device streaming into their impressive list of hearing aid features. New frontiers in sound streaming mean that audio from a smart phone and other compatible digital devices can be directly delivered to your Bluetooth enabled hearing aids for optimized listening – even your doorbell!

Hearing aids play a huge role in treating hearing loss effectively and alongside them, smart phones are making huge advances in becoming important assistive devices in their own right. Speech to text technology developed for hands-free note and memo taking is being developed into ever more accurate live-captioning software. The acceptance of texting has also let phone users with hearing loss stay connected to the people closest to them, alongside managing professional communication and correspondence.

Hearing Consultants

With so many options to choose from, you can’t let your hearing loss hold you back. From taking advantage of hearing aids with streaming audio to finding the right fit with an assistive phone, modern technology is helping people with hearing loss fully realize their telecommunications rights. If you have questions about your hearing, or devices and therapies that can help you manage your hearing challenges you know where to turn: Hearing Consultants. We proudly offer a full range of audiology services to the greater Cincinnati area.


Invest in Better Headphones to Help Prevent Hearing Loss

Invest in Better Headphones to Help Prevent Hearing Loss


Hearing loss isn’t just something that affects the aging. The way that our culture has so quickly adapted to personal technology devices and the dependence upon headphones or earbuds has greatly impacted the way hearing loss is appearing in much younger people.

Noise induced hearing loss

The classification of noise induced hearing loss is when too loud sounds irrevocably damage the delicate cells of the inner ear. These cells function as the receivers of sound information and once damage occurs, healthy hearing begins to decline.

Its presentation can be slow and subtle, with the loss first of frequencies rather than an overall lowering or eradicating of volume. This is, of course, the case with noise induced hearing loss that occurs because of too loud noise environments and prolonged exposure over a long period of time. Some instances of of noise induced hearing loss can occur quite suddenly, such as a loud explosion or crash, in which hearing faculties are irreversible and considerably damaged in an instant.

No regulation in sight

Before, we might have warned folks working in certain industries about the way their jobs might result in eventual noise induced hearing loss if proper precautions weren’t taken. The loudest fields remain agriculture, military, construction and manufacturing. Because of the very real danger of potential hearing loss, those industries were heavily regulated to protect the hearing health of workers. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) imposes strict limits on the types of sound workers can be exposed to and the duration of time that exposure can last.

Today, though, no one is regulating the noise exposure produced by the constant use of cell phones and personal devices.

The real danger of heavy listening

In 2015, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a global warning on unsafe use of personal audio devices, stating that more than a billion teenagers and young adults were at risk of hearing loss. They classified unsafe exposure to be noise in excess of 85 decibels for eight hours or 100 decibels for 15 minutes. To put things into perspective, a rock concert typically measures around 100 to 120 decibels. Real hearing damage can be done in about two minutes with exposure to sound measuring 110 decibels, so it’s nothing to take lightly. iPhones in Europe have a maximum volume of around 100 decibels, which is only slightly higher in the United States, at around 100 to 115 decibels.

Headphones to the rescue?

So why would the very thing that is causing so much damage end up being the solution to unnecessary early hearing loss? Well, how we listen is as important as our listening behavior. With a pair of standard headphones, which freely allow outside noise to disrupt the listening experience, you’re tempted to crank up the volume on your phone call or music streaming session. This can result in damaging volumes. However, noise canceling headphones tune out that background noise so that your device’s volume can remain lower and still retain a quality listening experience. In essence, you hear what you want to hear and tune out the rest.

A really good pair of noise canceling headphones is an investment that can set you back between $50 and up to a few hundred dollars, depending on the quality of the product you choose. However, it’s really an investment in your listening experience and your long term hearing health. In fact, the 2015 WHO report specifically suggested noise canceling headphones as one of three ways to protect your ears.

Other ways to protect your ears

In addition to noise canceling headphones, you can take other precautions to protect healthy hearing function. For starters, begin to notice the volumes on your devices. Try taking it down to the lowest setting that still allows you to hear clearly. Note where the volume level is and try to maintain it, despite an urge to raise it if your environment becomes noisier or if you just really love that song.

Take listening breaks from your personal devices throughout the day. It’s easy to just stay plugged in, but every four hours or so give your ears twenty minutes to remember the sound of silence.

Visit Us at Hearing Consultants

Are you concerned about your hearing abilities? Our team at Hearing Consultants provides comprehensive hearing services, including hearing testing and hearing aid fittings. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.