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Ryan
2010-07-11, 22:55
Sad times lately, we’ve had to set my grandfather up in a nursing home, and we’re to get a phone set up in his room. Quick and dirty version is we’re looking for a landline phone for the extremely hard of hearing. Probably 90% hearing loss.

Price isn’t important, we just need one that can handle the job. Does anyone have any experience here?

Banana
2010-07-11, 23:26
I used to loan and sell specialized phones to hard of hearing people (typically senior citizens) in a past job. It's been several years since and I expect I'm quite out of date and possibly state-specific but here it goes:

There are several factors you need to consider:

1) Does he use any hearing aids? If so, what features do they have? This determines what technology are available to him. For example, if his hearing aid is equipped with Telecoils, he can then use a inductor loop in conjunction with other technology to improve the hearing quality.

2) Look for phones that support tone controls. Instead of just increasing the volume, tone control adjust the frequency the sound comes and by increasing or decreasing, it could then fall into a range that your grandfather still can hear. This typically improves the quality much better than simply raising the volume.

3) There are few products that you can attach to the regular phone so he gets to keep his phone he always like. However, they typically are OK for mild hearing loss but for more severe, the experience won't be as optimal than if we got a specialized phone.

4) If he really does have 90% hearing loss, it's possible the above two won't be much help anyway. In this case, you should look into getting a CapTel. It's a phone that uses relay service involving a stenographer... basically getting the real time captioning printed out on a little LCD display on the phone so your grandfather can read while hearing to the other party. He can then respond with his own voice directly to the party on the line so the quality is very good. However, this is not available for purchases - it's typically a government-provided device and you'd check with your local state's to apply for a captel phone. If Captel is not available, another alternative is "VCO" phone.. voice carry-over which works in much same principle except that instead of using the same technology for real-time captioning, we're just dialing in a relay operator who is typing on QWERTY keyboard to submit to your grandfather. Obviously, it's a bit slower... but that may be better than nothing.

If you can, try and find a good place that sells medical assistive devices you can walk in. They should give you a demo unit for you your grandfather to fiddle with and if they're as good as my old employer was, get a loaner either for free or at a % of price to take home to ensure that this is the right product for your grandfather. This is not one of thing that could be made one-size-fits-all; one phone that could work well for one would be sucky for other. Thus, I strongly encourage you to get on-hand with demo unit wherever possible. Don't bother with mail order or online order until you have found a product that you your grandfather know will work.

Here's two phones I've sold in past - they were easily the best sellers out compared to other products we carried. However, note that this is somehow biased due to the fact that our state reimbursed a % of the cost for those brands so there was an incentive to prefer those brand over other where one would have to pay out of pocket.

Clarity XL50 (http://shop.clarityproducts.com/products/listing/item3276.asp)

Clarity VCO phone (http://shop.clarityproducts.com/products/categories/category347.asp)

I hope this gives you a starting point to find the right tool for the job.

Ryan
2010-07-11, 23:44
Thanks, I appreciate that.

Sounds like we won’t just be ordering him one of Amazon then. :\

Problem is, he’s in California, we’re in Texas. And the relative who’s been handling this is, well, difficult. I’m sure we’ve all been there. We were hoping to just ship him something but that may not be the best solution.

We do have another relative heading up there later this week, hopefully she can find a good store.

edit: IIRC, you’re from California, correct? Do you know their rules on CapTel? I’ll be looking into that tomorrow, but any insight you can provide would be great.

Banana
2010-07-11, 23:50
There's nothing wrong with ordering via Amazon per se. It's the guarantee that it's the right thing for his specific needs that's the hard problem.

California is good - I understand they have very good infrastructure there so you/your relative should be able to look up a local office branch in California that works with deaf/hard of hearing and they should be able to provide you with the resources that's specific to California and thus most relevant for your grandfather. Here's a directory of regional branches (http://www.cdss.ca.gov/cdssweb/PG131.htm). Give one of them a call and get all the info so you know where to go and look for the products, get a loaner if possible so you have the reassurance.

Sorry about the difficult relative, tho. I hope the other relative can get it together.

HTH.

Ryan
2010-07-11, 23:53
There's nothing wrong with ordering via Amazon per se. It's the guarantee that it's the right thing for his specific needs that's the hard problem.

California is good - I understand they have very good infrastructure there so you/your relative should be able to look up a local office branch in California that works with deaf/hard of hearing and they should be able to provide you with the resources that's specific to California and thus most relevant for your grandfather. Here's a directory of regional branches (http://www.cdss.ca.gov/cdssweb/PG131.htm). Give one of them a call and get all the info so you know where to go and look for the products, get a loaner if possible so you have the reassurance.

Sorry about the difficult relative, tho. I hope the other relative can get it together.

HTH.

I’ll forward this all on to her. It also looks like CapTel has a new version that we could buy on our own, if I understand their website correctly.

Banana
2010-07-12, 00:01
Wow, that's cool. Back then, it was strictly controlled, presumably due to scarcity of resources to support the CapTel, hence the need to apply for it to a state government. Looking at the wiki quickly, I also suspect my memory WRT Captel may have been off in claiming that a stenographer was used as it seems to depend on an operator using voice recognition software that has been trained.

Best of luck! :)