Best mobile phones for people with hearing problems
29th June, 2020 |
People with hearing loss want to communicate and access information using a mobile phone just as much as anyone else. However, mobiles can be frustrating to use for those with hearing problems.
Let’s look at what makes a phone good for someone with hearing loss and learn how you can protect the new device with mobile phone insurance.
What do people with hearing loss want from a phone?
Hearing loss makes it difficult or impossible to receive voice calls from many phones, especially in places with lots of background noise. It can also be a challenge to hear alert signals and ringtones.
A substantial proportion of deaf or hearing-impaired people are in the older age bracket, meaning they may want additional features in a mobile phone such as larger buttons or simplified user interfaces.
Of course, many other people with hearing loss love their gadgets as much as any tech geek and will want all the latest phone features, plus accessibility.
Most smartphones have a settings menu devoted to accessibility, so you can turn on features such as mono audio, support for closed captions, and bluetooth hearing aid connections.
Video calls are also great for people with hearing loss who wish to communicate by sign language.
The hearing aid compatible (HAC) ratings system is a very useful way to work out whether a phone would work for you. The system was produced by the American National Standard Institute (ANSI).
There are two different types of rating – M shows reduced radio-frequency interference to enable acoustic coupling with hearing aids without telecoils, while T is for coupling with aids in telecoil mode.
A score of M3 or M4 or T3 or T4 is considered to show a product is hearing-aid compatible.
Getting the right amplification
Amplification is one of the major issues in mobile phones for the hard of hearing. Having a louder phone helps to some extent but the real issue is clarity.
Standards for phone audio have not been updated for decades, when volume levels were limited to prevent hearing loss. Ironically, this causes problems for those who already have problems with their hearing.
Each phone that comes out seems to be slimmer and more compact than the last, packing a huge amount into a tiny casing but this comes at a cost.
Amplification is all about vibration within an empty area, but all the different features of a modern mobile are in competition for this space.
Audio can be boosted by using the speakerphone function on a device but this has to be turned on for each call and sometimes compromises sound quality.
Mobile phones support hearing aids but this is hardly a key area of focus for most developers so provision is basic.
An alternative to buying a phone specially designed for the hard of hearing is to use a Goshawk product, which is an add-on product to adjust audio.
The phone user carries out a hearing test to show which frequencies are hardest for him or her to hear, then software adjusts a phone’s audio output to optimise the frequencies that are easiest to hear.
Mobile phones for those with hearing loss
Samsung Galaxy S10 and Note10
Samsung’s 2019 flagship phones have lots of great features for the hard of hearing. They have great ratings for hearing aid compatibility and they don’t have the clunky look of some specialist phones.
LG G8 ThinQ
This Android smartphone has great hearing aid compatibility but is much less costly than other hearing aid-friendly phones. It does all you’d want from a smartphone but won’t drain your bank account as much.
Google Pixel 4
The hearing aid compatibility of these phones is not as good as some other options, but depending on user need, other features make up for this.
If you’re happy to communicate through messaging and other platforms rather than voice calls, this is a good choice.
Don’t forget to take out mobile phone insurance to protect your phone.
iPhone 5 and later
iPhones from 5 onwards are compatible with iPhone Hearing Aids, which help process and amplify sound for the hard of hearing.
You can control factors such as volume of each aid, microphone level and hearing range, applying presets to help you in noisy or outdoor environments.
This amplified clamshell flip phone is lightweight and easy to use.
It has a colour display screen, backlit keypad and an SOS button built into the back of the device.
Sound and ringtone amplification will help people with hearing loss, but it doesn’t do much more than calls and messaging.
Made by specialist UK manufacturer Geemarc, this is a no-frills phone that is easy to use and compatible with hearing aids.
It has a maximum ringer volume of 90dB and handset volume goes up to 35dB. It’s easy to use but doesn’t do much more than calls and texting.
It can be programmed with speed-dial emergency numbers.
This mobile phone is about as loud as you can get, with a ringer up to 90dB and handset volume up to 40dB.
The clamshell design has a dual LCD display and a camera. It features large dial buttons and a high-contrast screen.
This is a good-looking flip phone with wifi, loud and clear sound and an assistance button.
It does not have the full range of smartphone functionality but it does connect to Facebook and Whatsapp, making it a great choice for connecting with friends.
This amplified mobile is a full smartphone aimed at those with mild to moderate hearing problems.
It does all you’d expect a 4G phone to do, but also has an extra loud ringer, handset volume control and is compatible with hearing aids.
It has features for those with visual impairments and an emergency assistance button.
Your mobile phone is much more than just a handset – in some circumstances, it can even be a lifesaver! Protect your device with quality mobile phone insurance.
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