New free phone opens whole new world to those with hearing loss

Local News

People who are hearing impaired often miss out on phone conversations. There is, however, a revolutionary new phone that opens up conversations to those with hearing loss.

If you or someone you know suffers from any form of hearing loss and has been tested by a hearing professional, they may qualify for this free service that opens up a whole new world.

When Sabra Parish calls her friends, she doesn’t have to ask them to repeat themselves. She has what’s called a Clear Captions phone which provides near real-time captions on what callers are saying. 

“It makes a difference because I can read what is said. I haven’t used this feature yet, but I can also play back conversations,” said Parish.

Parish has a high-tech hearing aid with a bluetooth feature, but clarity is an issue.

“Wouldn’t be able to understand everything they were saying because you can’t really adjust it. And if someone calls me from a cell phone, it’s compromised. With this I can adjust the sounds to three different levels,” said Parish.

Parish didn’t have to pay a dime for the device. Anyone with a verified loss of hearing is eligible for the phone made possible through the Americans With Disabilities Act.

“Title IV of the ADA established the Telecommunications Relay Service fund. Every telephone company is required to send a fraction of their fees to the FCC and that money goes into the fund for hearing assisted devices, such as Clear Captions,” said Joyce Taylor, the representative for Clear Captions in East Tennessee.

“If I don’t want to be on speaker I can pick up the handset. But the printout starts immediately,” Parish said.

“It connects to a call center. The spoken word is translated into text. Then there are three tones, that changes the pitch of the person speaking to you,” explained Taylor.

The phone’s features include a speaker system, digital amplification, an answering machine and phone directory. To be eligible for the free service you must have a certified hearing loss, a telephone connection and internet service.

For people like Sabra Parish and others, the phone can be a life changer.

“I have put in some phones for some widows who relied on their husbands to be their eyes and ears. So, when we put in the telephone and they’re able to talk to their loved ones, it’s quite a moving experience to be a part of that,” said Taylor.

A mobile phone device will be available in a few months.

Taylor can be contacted at joyce.taylor@clearcaptions.com.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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