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18 Fearless Years


Gary Barg - Editor-in-chief Reading the Call

Talking with my grandfather over the phone as his hearing loss became more pronounced was, to say the least, interesting. “Gramp, it’s Gary. No, GARY, your grandson, not Harry, your cousin. I’m in Atlanta. No, not Santa, A-T-L-A-N-T-A. Yes, I know it’s not Christmas yet.”…And on and on it would go.

As I found out through the years, there are many other family caregivers who are caring for loved ones who have developed hearing loss. Seniors often have trouble understanding others speaking to them over the telephone. And, as I discovered with my grandfather, they “pretend” to understand what is being said, ask the person to “speak up,” or request the information be repeated over and over. But the real concern is that 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.

Thankfully, many new, more accessible products and services are being introduced to the market. People living with hearing loss have a choice of products that include hearing aid compatible phones, voice, text and video relay services and other technologies.

One of these new technologies that I wish were around when my grandfather started losing his hearing in the 1980s is captioned telephone technologies, which assist people with hearing loss by allowing them to listen to someone calling them while reading the text of the conversation at the same time. Very cool.

When a person uses a captioned telephone, it is similar to viewing a captioned television. The text of the speech appears, allowing the user to read along. People become quickly familiar with how the captioned phone works as it looks and works like a conventional phone. The captions are displayed on the phone’s built-in screen, so reading the words is easy while listening to the voice of the other party. They have a choice of reading along while listening or just referring to the screen if something the caller is saying is difficult for the person to understand or they have trouble hearing the conversation.

Captioned telephone phone users place a call in the same way as making a traditional phone call. As they dial, the captioned telephone automatically connects to a captioning service. When the other party answers, the captioned telephone user can understand everything being said using the technology.

Being able to communicate is so very important. It keeps our loved ones from becoming isolated and helps to maintain their mental health for as long as possible. That is something worth captioning, indeed.


  Gary Barg
Today's Caregiver magazine
Friday July 20, 2012


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