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The Best Telephone for Hearing-Impaired Loved-Ones

I bought this phone for my dad, who wears hearing aids, and it has greatly improved his ability to communicate. I did a fair amount of research before buying the phone. I have several degrees in engineering, including graduate degrees and patents in digital signal processing.

I live across the country from my parents, and often help my dad over the phone with his computer. His old phone interfered with his hearing aids, so he removed them to talk on the phone. It had become difficult to walk him through computer procedures over the phone, because he had difficulty distinguishing similar-sounding words that differed only by their consonant sounds. So, like many people with hearing loss, he has problems hearing the high frequency (i.e., higher-pitched) sounds that distinguish the different consonants.

So, the phone needed to meet several requirements. First, it had to be hearing-aid compatible. Then it had to be able to amplify sound to higher levels than a normal phone, It also had to be able to boost the high-frequency sounds more than lower-frequency sounds. And it had to do so in a way that would not amplify background noises, which can otherwise become distracting. It also needed to flash a light when ringing, and have a louder-than-normal ringer, since my dad doesn't always hear the phone when it's ringing, particularly when he's in his basement workshop.

Of all the phones I found in my research, this one best meets all of those requirements. It's hearing-aid compatible, so it doesn't produce squeals of feedback or noise in my dad's hearing aids. It amplifies sound substantially and has a volume control. It conveniently lets you set the volume once so that it's already set whenever you pick up the phone, rather than you having to adjust it each time, And this line of phones is unique in that it has a separate tone control to let you specifically boost high frequencies to help distinguish the sound of different consonants. It's also unique in that it has special circuitry to reduce background noises. And it has a ringer that flashes and can be set to ring at an unusually loud volume.

Some of the other phones in this product line boost sound to even higher levels (by 50 decibels, or db, vs. the 43 decibels of this unit -- for reference, a boost of 3 decibels is the smallest increase in volume that a person can notice). But customer reviews indicate that the 50 db units end up distorting the sound, which renders the additional volume of those units useless.

Ideally, I wanted to get my dad a wireless phone, to replace his current wireless phone that he roams around with in the basement when working on projects. But packing all of this phone's features into a wireless handset is apparently difficult, because customer reviews indicate that none of the wireless units work as well. So I compensated by also buying my dad an add-on 25-foot coiled handset cord, which extends the range between the phone base and its handset. One other reason not to get a wireless phone is that many of them use the same wireless frequencies that are used for wireless home computer networks, and thus interfere with those networks. And I had just recently set up a wireless computer network for my parents to use with their new laptop.

Just in case you're wondering, like I was, how well-established the company is that makes this phone, I looked it up. Ameriphone is a product line from a company called Clarity, which is a division of Plantronics, Inc., the famous telephone headset-maker. So they aren't a fly-by-night outfit, and should be around for awhile. And, by the way, I found that Amazon has a better price than anyone for this phone, particularly when you include the free shipping.

Now when I help my dad with computer procedures over the phone, he seems to understand me as well as he did before he had hearing loss. As an engineer, if I were to design a phone to best compensate for my dad's hearing loss, this is the phone that I would design. Mission accomplished.

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