Staying Connected: Cell Phones and Hearing Aids
The ability to communicate with family, colleagues and friends is important to everyone. In today’s information age, people like to be in full-time touch at their home, office, car, ballpark, or wherever they are. More than 4 billion people around the world—almost 2/3 of the world’s population—have access to a mobile phone.
For many years mobile phones were a challenge for people with hearing loss. Today, advances in hearing aid technology have allowed many people with hearing loss to hear on the phone as well as people with normal hearing-and maybe even better. Using technology similar to Bluetooth connectivity, hearing aids can be paired to your cell or landline phone. Calls then go directly into your hearing aids-and to both of your ears.
This technology can also be used to control your hearing aids. Many hearing aids can connect to an app that allows your phone to become a remote control, using your phone to change your hearing aid program or adjust hearing aid volume. Some can also locate your hearing aids if you’ve misplaced them.
Voice or text?
With mobile devices there’s also the option to use written text instead of voice. Texting has obvious benefits if you’re in a noisy place, even if you have normal hearing. Text communicators can be as simple as a pager that displays a phone number (remember them?), or a mobile device that delivers written messages. You can also connect to the world of e-mail and the internet. Because the signal is visual, the message can be understood no matter how noisy the environment is or how much hearing loss you have.
The lines between voice and text and land phones and wireless phones are blurring. For example, some devices can send messages to a pager, computer, fax machine or TTY (teletypewriter), or send and receive voice messages. Other devices have begun to incorporate features designed for people with hearing loss. Wynd Communication offers a two-way pager with a Go.Web feature that allows users to surf the Web. They also offer voice-to-text and text-to voice features.
Advances in hearing aid technology have allowed many people with hearing loss to hear on the phone as well as people with normal hearing.
New devices and technology will continue to make communication more accessible to everyone, including those with hearing loss. Perhaps it’s only appropriate that these advances are happening in the world of telecommunications. After all, Alexander Graham Bell, inventor of the telephone, was primarily a teacher of the deaf who just happened to develop the telephone as an aid for people with hearing loss.