5 tips to hear better on the phone with hearing loss
Hearing on the phone can be tricky, with or without a hearing aid, as the quality of the line and the environment you’re listening in can add to the complexities of the call.
If you have a hearing loss there are some things you can do to augment the conversation, to ensure you hear all the relevant information.
Let’s look at five ways to hear better on the phone, particularly if your hearing is compromised.
How you hold the phone and where you are situated can improve the phone signal.
If you wear hearing aids, you need to identify your better ear for hearing phone calls and be aware of where the microphone is situated on your hearing device. Place the phone on your better ear in close proximity to the microphone.
If you have a hearing aid model that sits behind your ear (BTE, RIC, RITE) the microphone will be sitting over the top of your ear so you will need to hold the phone slightly above your ear. If your hearing aid sits in the ear (ITE, ITC, CIC, IIC) the microphone is in the ear canal and so you will hold the phone as normal.
Sometimes, if you hold the phone too close to the microphone in either position you may get a bit of feedback (whistling sound). If this happens, talk to your audiologist or audiometrist and get them to check your positioning and the setting on your hearing aids.
Where you are placed or situated when you take a phone call, is also very important for good, clear communication. If you’re on a landline, you won’t have much choice, but hopefully at home, your fixed phone is in a relatively quiet spot. If you’re taking a call on a mobile phone, move yourself to a quiet spot with minimal background noise. This will allow you to focus on the person who called you, rather than be distracted by all the noise in the background.
Check if your hearing aid has a Telecoil (t-coil) option. If it does, then you will be able to activate this when using a fixed phone which also has a t-coil. When you turn on your t-coil it will use magnetic induction to pick up the signal coming through a landline phone that has a t-coil loop installed.
This will give you the phone signal without any background noise or interference. The signal is clearer and easier to hear.
Most modern hearing aids are fitted with Bluetooth and can be activated to stream phone calls directly into your hearing aids from your mobile phone. This means, when you answer the phone, you don’t need to pick it up and hold it to the microphone.
You only need to accept the call and you can begin conversing with the person on the other end. For some hearing aids, you don’t even need to have the phone nearby, you can accept the phone call by a push of a button on your hearing aids.
Some hearing aid models will even send the callers voice to both ears giving you a binaural signal. Bluetooth hearing aids can allow for ‘hands free’ calls in the car (not all models, check with the manufacturer) and can be paired with your car’s audio system.
Telstra offers their customers amplified phones for people with a hearing loss. There are a variety of telephone options for people with lower hearing levels including a Sight and Sound Enhanced phone, a Big Button phone and Teletypewriters (TTY – for people limited speech and/or hearing). If you would like to investigate the type of telephone assistance you can get for fixed line phones, contact Telstra to see how they can help.
Utilising hearing tactics on the phone will go a long way to securing good communication for you and your phone partner. Firstly, you should always let the person on the other end of the call know you have a hearing loss and may need to ask for repeats during the conversation.
Asking for repeats is not an uncommon request - whether you have a hearing loss or not. When the phone line isn’t a good one, everyone will need to ask for some things to be repeated.
If you’re calling someone unfamiliar – perhaps a shop, medical centre or travel agency – have a series of ‘closed questions’ at the ready. These types of questions generally only require only a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response, so are easier to hear and anticipate. If you need to get an address or phone number from your caller, write down what they say then repeat it back to ensure you have heard and recorded the information correctly.
And remember, it will be easier to hear any information if you have the telephone on your better ear and are in a quiet environment.
Try these tips with your partner or known caller and practice, particularly the hearing tactics. You can also get assistance from your audiologist or audiometrist when you next visit them.
Get them to show you how to activate the t-coil or Bluetooth for streaming and to make sure your hearing aids are set up to best suit your needs for telephone calls. Practice these tips and you will be communicating successfully on the phone in no time!