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Hearing Health

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Understanding Captioned Telephones

Many caregivers are caring for loved ones who have developed hearing loss over the years. Seniors often have trouble understanding others speaking to them over the telephone. Increasingly, they “pretend” to understand what is being said, ask the person to “speak up” or request the information be repeated over and over.  They can find it increasingly difficult to understand instructions or directions, recognize confirmation numbers for products or services, and most important, communicate with emergency operators when necessary.

Today, new more accessible telephone products and services, including hearing aid compatible phones, are becoming more widely available. In the last 20 years, a wide range of voice, text, and video relay services and technologies have been developed that enable consumer choice of language and mode of communication to access the telephone network.

Captioned telephone technology is one of these new technologies that are assisting people who have retained some of their hearing to listen to the actual voice of the person on the telephone while reading the text of the conversation they are having.

How Captioned Telephones Work

Captioned telephones are is similar to captioned television, where spoken words appear as written text for viewers to read. The captioned telephone looks and works like any traditional phone, with callers talking and listening to each other, but with one significant difference: written captions are quickly delivered for every phone call. The captions are displayed on the phone’s built-in screen so the user can read the words while listening to the voice of the other party. If the captioned telephone user has difficulty hearing what the caller says or understanding the words, he or she can read the captions for clarification.

Captioned telephone phone users place a call in the same way as dialing a traditional phone. As they dial, the captioned telephone automatically connects to a captioning service. When the other party answers, the captioned telephone user hears everything that they say, just like a traditional call.


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