Helping Our Patients Hear & Understand with Captioned Phones
One of the most common complaints you will hear from your patients is that they have difficulty hearing on the phone, even with their hearing aids. There’s no way around it, the phone can be tricky for those with hearing loss. In fact, for some it may be so difficult to communicate on the phone that they simply stop using it. The main culprit is likely the severity of the hearing loss. Other factors play a role, too, such as how fast the caller is talking, if they aren’t talking loud enough or if they are calling from a noisy environment. Fortunately, there are now ways to help ease communication for phone calls. One way is to educate our patients on the use of a closed caption phone.
A captioned phone, similar to captioning on a TV, is specifically designed to display real-time text during a phone call to allow the listener to both hear and read along with the conversation. The phone utilizes a relay service where there is an intermediary person who is captioning the caller’s words using voice recognition technology. That text gets displayed directly on the patient’s phone, allowing them to read along as needed. The captioning service can be useful for all ranges of hearing loss to help fill in the gaps when parts of conversations are missed.
Here’s the best part… These captioning phones are currently FREE to people with hearing loss. As part of the American’s With Disabilities Act (ADA), individuals who have hearing loss have the right to be able to communicate via the telephone just as easily as those without hearing loss. The ADA also requires that those with hearing loss don’t pay anything extra for their communication services due to their hearing loss. These phones and captioning services are paid for by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) via the Interstate Telecommunications Relay Services Fund. Any individual who has paid a phone bill over the past 20 years has contributed to this fund via a surcharge found on the bill.
So, how does your patient get one of these phones? Let’s discuss the requirements and steps to getting your patient a caption phone:
Your patient must have a documented hearing loss.
An Audiologist signs a “Professional Certification Form” that confirms the patient has a documented hearing loss and needs help with communicating on the phone.
The certification form gets faxed or mailed to a captioning company such
as CapTel or Caption Call.
A representative from that company then arranges a time with your patient to deliver, set up, and orient them to the use of the phone.
This simple process can make a world of difference for your patients. As an Audiology Assistant, you are not able to sign off on the required certification form but you certainly can talk about and promote it to your patients. And trust me, they will be extremely grateful to you for it!