Hearing Aid Compatible Phones: What to Know Before You Buy
Hearing aid technology has been improving rapidly over the past few years with the advent of digital technology. Not all of those improvements are made to the hearing aids themselves, however. Significant advances have been made with hearing compatible phones as well. Not only are we improving the way that you’re able to connect your device to phones in order to better hear and make calls, but there is a range of hearing aids that can be configured directly from smart devices, as well.
Here, we’re going to look at how hearing aid compatible phones are improving, both cell phones and landline phones, and what you should know when choosing one. As ever, don’t hesitate to involve your audiologist in the process, as their expertise can help you browse the market in a way that suits your needs.
The most common kind of phone bought today is a smartphone, which is constantly being updated. When browsing this market, it’s good to know that they’re required by law to be compatible with your hearing aids.
For those mild to moderate hearing loss, the vast majority of all smartphones are likely going to be perfectly suited to your needs. Smartphones and hearing aids have a technology called “acoustic coupling,” which means your hearing aid can pick up on sound directly from the phone. However, while looking through your options, it’s still wise to look out for the M rating, which is a classification of how good their hearing aid compatibility is. Devices with an M rating of 4 have the best compatibility, and an M rating of 1 signifies the barest minimum.
If you have severe hearing loss, then choosing the right hearing aid and smartphone is important. The telecoil feature, available in some hearing aids, connects with compatible smartphones to play the sound from them directly into your hearing device. Like an M rating, all phones have a T rating from 1-4 (or worst to best), which shows their telecoil compatibility.
Although landlines are less frequently seen nowadays, you still want to make sure you have one that will work with your hearing aid. In the workplace or public spaces, all phones are required by law to be hearing aid compatible. When choosing a phone for your own home, however, you need to look out for this feature (which is often abbreviated to HAC). Just like smartphones, landline and cordless landline phones have their own M and T ratings, so choose one with a decent rating, whether you use a telecoil feature or not. Certain landlines will also come with features specifically designed for users with hearing loss, such as extra-loud ringers and flashing indicators.
About Bluetooth connectivity
Many modern hearing aids are coming out with Bluetooth compatibility features that allow them to connect to a wide range of digital devices, from smartphones to smart TVs to tablets to wireless speakers. If your hearing aid has Bluetooth compatibility, it can connect to most smartphones. Not only can you play audio from the phone directly through your device this way, but you may be able to use your phone to access, configure, and program your hearing aid. In order to do this, however, you need to have an app from the manufacturer of your hearing aid installed on your phone.
Tips for using hearing aid accessible phones
- Adjust the volume settings to ensure that the ringer is loud enough to be heard with your hearing aid. You should also make a test call, so you see if the call volume itself is loud enough. Most smartphones have adjustable volumes for different uses, so find the balance that works best for you.
- Enable non-audio notifications, such as vibrations and flashing light that can make it easier to see when a call is incoming.
- Consider hands-free devices and headsets that can help you block out background noise and achieve a better sound balance.
- Take a look at the app store for video calling applications, such as FaceTime, which may be better suited if you prefer lip-reading or sign language to communicate when possible.
Make the right call with your audiologist
If you’re looking for a hearing aid compatible phone or any other device or appliance to assist with your hearing, get in touch with an audiologist at EarTech Audiology. We can help narrow down your choices and ensure you make the best decision to suit your needs, so give us a call at 801-399-9955.