In today's world, most of us use phones to communicate with friends and family. Phones are essential, not only for social connection but also convenient for security and safety.
As an audiologist, I've worked with many patients with hearing loss. Unfortunately, phone calls can cause communication barriers affecting quality of life and morale.
Why are phone calls difficult? The frequencies transmitted in a phone call make it harder to hear and the lack of visual cues doesn't help a person with hearing loss.
Fortunately, there are ways to improve the communication experience with today's technology. With a cellphone or landline, captioning can help better understand phone conversations and support communication.
With so many options in the market, how do you know which one to choose? In this article, we'll explore the best caption phones, what to consider when selecting, and bonus apps or features for cell phones.
Are caption phones really free?
Yes, many caption phone companies offer the service for free to those with hearing loss, thanks to the ADA guidelines for hearing loss.
This is because the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) created the Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS) Fund, which reimburses companies that provide relay services and landline phones.
That being said, eligibility does not depend on income or medical needs. Some companies that offer free caption phones include CaptionCall, ClearCaptions, and Hamilton CapTel.
However, it's important to note that this service differs from IP Relay Service, used to help with captioning Smartphone calls.
How can I get a free caption phone?
The process of a CapTel phone involves a few steps. First, you'll need to reach out to your hearing care professional to obtain confirmation of your hearing loss.
Follow these steps to get a free caption phone:
1. Fill out a third-party certification form. Find it here.
2. Have the form certified by a hearing care professional, such as your audiologist. You can send it to them by email, fax, or mail to sign and date it.
3. Submit the form to CapTel.
FYI: Are you a veteran? There is a self-certify option available to veterans right here at this link.
What to consider when choosing?
- Ease of Use
- Service and Support
Ease of Use
When choosing a caption phone, several factors need to be considered.
What to keep in mind:
- Overall user experience
- Visibility (e.g., font size and large buttons)
- Screen brightness
- Easy-to-read menu buttons
Next, ensure that the phone features, such as adjustable volume controls, speakerphone, and noise reduction features, meet your hearing needs.
Key features to look for:
- Models with a large, backlit displays
- Battery life
- Compatibility with hearing aids
- Customer support
Service and Support
It's important to know what types of resources you have for service and support if you encounter problems or have questions. For instance, most companies offer live support features like chat, phone, or email.
Finally, consider the cost when selecting a caption phone and there are many free or low-cost options available.
Are there downsides to a caption phone?
One downside to a caption phone can be speed.
Why is speed a factor? Captioning services take time to process speech and transcribe it.
Additionally, sometimes inaccuracies in the captioning can occur but captioning is still a great support tool to help anyone stay in the loop in a conversation.
Best Caption Phones
A wide range of caption phones are available in the market, and choosing one can sometimes feel overwhelming. Let's look at some of the best options.
This lower-tech phone is an excellent option for those who don't have an internet connection because it uses a standard telephone line.
The display is large and the font is easy to read, but this phone does not offer a touchscreen. The device is also hearing aid compatible and has adjustable font sizes for increased visibility.
Are you looking for Bluetooth connectivity? This phone features an internet connection option, Bluetooth options, a speakerphone, a touchscreen, volume adjustment, and a large display.
The Hamilton CapTel is one of the most popular and widely used caption phones, which features a large touchscreen display, adjustable volume settings (up to 40 dB), caller ID with up to 95 phone numbers, and an answering machine.
In addition, this phone features captioning at no cost. The phone connects to the internet, so you'll need a good phone line and a high-speed internet connection to use this option.
Another excellent option for a caption phone.
Do you find that caption speed frustrating when reading the captions? This phone features a built-in speakerphone, hands-free calling function, caption speed options, and answering machine or voicemail options.
Plus the company offers free customer support, so you can get help when you need it.
What are the best caption apps or features for cell phones?
Several apps can assist those with a captioning service for those who prefer to use their cell phones. Let's look at two great options.
Conveniently, this app will transcribe cell phone calls, landline calls, or from a tablet or computer. Even better: This app is free to use and works with over 100 languages.
Use this free app—make sure to register and self-certify your hearing loss—for live-transcribed captions for fast, accurate captioning of cell phone calls.
How does the app work? Live stenographers provide captions to help you easily understand your phone calls for both Apple and Android devices.
Caption phones can make a positive impact on those who experience hearing loss. These devices are game-changers for the hearing-impaired community, allowing them to communicate more efficiently.
Key Summary Points:
- Consider your hearing needs and choose a reliable, quality caption phone
- With technological advancements, using caption apps on your cell phone can also provide similar benefits
- Communication should not be a barrier, and having access to caption-enabled phones can help bridge that gap