This is the second post of a three-part series addressing ideal business phone solutions for hearing aid wearers experiencing difficulty using the phone at work. Part 1 outlined options for users of streamers and/or T-coil equipped hearing instruments using standard PBX phone systems. This post will also address the use of standard PBX phone systems for users of hearing instruments that are NOT equipped with T-coils and DO NOT use streamers. The outlined solutions allow the use of the business phone without the need to remove hearing instruments from the ear.
FOR NON-T-COIL EQUIPPED HEARING INSTRUMENTS WITHOUT STREAMERS
1. In-line or strap-on telephone amplifier: in-line amplifiers are designed to connect to existing telephones and provide additional amplification (usually 30-40 dB) to the incoming caller’s voice. Two popular and inexpensive models include the HA40 (shown left) by Clarity and the ClearSounds Portable Telephone Amplifier. Another option includes the Plantronics M22 Phone Amplifier. This is a more expensive option than the other two as it offers the ability for the user to switch between handset and headset; in addition, if the hearing instrument wearer eventually upgrades to T-coils, the M22 will support a neckloop. As with most in-line amplifiers, both of these products are designed to work with corded telephones. In the event the business telephone is a cordless model, a portable strap-on telephone amplifier (shown right) may be used although it may be used with a corded telephone too. The amplifier is secured over the earpiece of the business phone’s handset and amplifies up to 20 dB.
The ClearSounds QH2 Bluetooth Hub & Phone Amplifier (CS-QH2) mentioned in Part 1 remains an option too although in this particular scenario, its Bluetooth capabilities would not be utilized (i.e. no streamer to pair to; no T-coils to support use of Bluetooth neckloop). Unlike the three previously mentioned in-line amplifiers, the CS-QH2 is designed to work with both corded and cordless telephones. Once connected to the business phone, the CS-QH2 provides up to 30 dB of amplification. Even though the Bluetooth capabilities of the CS-QH2 would not be used in this scenario, you will still end up paying for the technology. The CS-QH2 will cost about six times more than HA40 or ClearSounds Phone Amplifier.
2. Amplified Handset: the handset of the business phone may be replaced with any number of amplified handsets available on the market. Most are designed to provide up to approximately 20 dB of amplification. Depending on the specific model, a thumbwheel built into the handset allows for volume adjustment or a button located on the underside of the handset must be continually pressed to activate amplification. When looking for an amplified handset, read the fine print as some business phones require the amplified handset to be from the same manufacturer as the business phone and/or some amplified handsets will only work with analog phone systems and will not be compatible with digital telephone systems.
The above recommendations represent the most ideal solutions for hearing instrument wearers experiencing difficulty using a business telephone in a PBX environment who do not have streamers or T-coils. In each case, it will be necessary for the hearing instrument wearer to get comfortable with holding the handset close to the hearing instrument’s microphone at a position that will not cause feedback. Part 3 of this series will outline phone solutions to hearing instrument wearers who rely on their mobile phone as their primary business phone.