The other day I went to pick up dinner from a local restaurant. It was a busy night, and eight or ten people joined me in line as I stood there. Like clockwork, each of them pulled out their phone and began texting, gaming, or even calling friends until it was their turn.
Nowadays, being anywhere without your phone makes you an island – you’re unreachable, and you’ll have better luck finding a messenger pigeon than a working payphone.
This phone-first culture creates unique challenges for seniors and the hearing impaired who may have a hard time hearing the ringtone on their phone or deciphering a family member or friend's speech. At home, the wrong phone can lead to your partner becoming your secretary or translator. Fortunately, there are some great phones out there that can ensure you always get the message.
In this guide, I’ll outline some of the best hearing impaired phones on the market along with their features, prices.
What to Look For in a Telephone If You Are Hearing Impaired
Any phone needs the basics like speed dial, number memory, voice messaging, and so on, but if you have impaired hearing, there are 4 features you should pay attention to:
Having a ringer that you can hear is a no-brainer, but that loudness depends on the individual. The ringer volume is listed in the manufacturer's specifications in decibels (dB). Remember that dBs is a logarithmic scale; 20 dB is twice as loud as 10 dB, 30 dB is 10 times louder than 20 dB. As a rough guide, a typical phone rings at around 70 dB.
Noticeable Visual Representation
Most phones will light up when you get a message or call, but phones designed especially for the hard of hearing often come with additional flashing lights to ensure an incoming call won't be missed.
Loud & Clear Audio
Volume is not the only criteria to look for in a phone. The models listed below also have features that improve clarity with sophisticated filters that "clean up" the caller's voice, making it much easier to hear and understand.
It could be worth choosing a phone that offers cutting-edge technologies that slow down the caller's voice or show captions on a screen.
Best Home and Office Phones for Hearing Loss
1. Panasonic KX-TGM450S - Slows Speech, Simple Controls, Cordless
If you are looking for a phone to use at your house or office and have a budget of around $160, I recommend considering this Panasonic cordless phone. It comes highly rated because it checks so many boxes. It can significantly boost caller volume and has six filter settings to improve clarity. The ringer can be set up to 112 dB, which is louder than a car horn and has bright red LEDs that flash when a call comes in. It also offers a one-touch Slow Talk button which slows speech and voicemails in real-time. The KX has an easy-to-read screen, large touch controls, noise reduction to help with noisy environments, and all the features you’d expect from a modern landline phone.
Features: Loud and proud ringer and caller volume. Slow Talk button. Bright LEDs to notify you of a call. Extra handsets are available.
Price: $157.95 at Amazon or similarly priced at Walmart
2. Hamilton CapTel 2400i - Loud and Clear With Captions
If you’re looking for a home or office phone that can be used by those with severe hearing loss, look no further. The Hamiton CapTel 2400i has a large screen that displays the caller’s words in text form in real-time, making it possible to have a conversation even if you can’t hear the caller.
The down-side? It’s not cordless.
Features: Large screen, large buttons, and bright, clear display with closed captions.
Price: $75.00 at Amazon and Walmart, and other outlets.
3. VTech SN5147 - Photo Dial with Audio Assist
This phone is ideal for anyone who wants to get their phone calls and doesn’t need too many bells and whistles. It comes with a 50 dB audio assist, a 90 dB ringer, and you can assign eight numbers with photo IDs, so outgoing phone calls to family and friends are as easy as one click of a button. This phone has an attached handset and a cordless one, so you have the benefit of being able to move around your home and stay close to a phone.
Features: Big buttons with photo dial for simplicity. 50 dB audio assist. Visual ringer.
Price: $77.90 at Amazon and available at Staples and other stores.
Best Cellphones For Hearing Hearing Loss
4. Jitterbug Smart2 - Most Affordable
Thie Jitterbug Smart2 is a simple and easy-to-use smartphone. The large touchscreen and simple layout make this an excellent choice for those who haven't grown up with digital technology and don't plan to spend all day scrolling through Instagram.
The Jitterbug2 has voice typing, a quality camera, and nationwide coverage with GreatCall, plus excellent customer service. You won't need to sign any long-term contracts, and the front-facing speaker ensures conversations are as clear as possible.
- Features: Affordable and easy to use, it has all the essentials you need in your cellphone; maps, internet, camera, text, and more, including a quick response button.
- Size: 6 x 3 inches and weighs 4.64 ounces.
- Price: From $74.99 via Amazon.
5. iPhone - Hearing Aid Compatible
Apple iPhones have been hearing aid compatible since the iPhone 5, which guarantees compatibility with modern hearing aids. Even better, Apple has teamed with hearing aid manufacturers to develop hearing aids that work seamlessly with iPhones to improve user experience. Many regard the iPhone as THE cell phone and its feature set makes it a top choice for those with hearing impairments – if you have the budget and want all the tech the iPhone has to offer.
- Features: Fast, incredible camera, and easily adaptable for those living with hearing loss
- Size: 5.94 x 2.98 x 0.33 inches and weighs 6.84 ounces.
- Price: Starting at $599.00 from Amazon and available from Apple and other stores.