Questions? Give us a call. 
We typically reply in a few minutes.

Caption Phones: A Closer Look at Privacy

April 15, 2024
Amy Sarow, AuD, CCC-A
Written by
Amy Sarow, AuD, CCC-A
Amy Sarow, AuD, CCC-A

Dr. Amy Sarow is a practicing clinical audiologist and serves as Audiology Lead for Soundly. Her expertise and experience span topics including tinnitus, cochlear implants, hearing aid technology, and hearing testing. She holds a doctoral degree in audiology from the University of Iowa. During her residency at Mayo Clinic, Dr. Sarow was inspired by the three-tiered, patient-centered approach, incorporating clinical work, teaching and research.

Soundly Staff
Reviewed by
Soundly Staff
Soundly Staff

Soundly conducts in-depth research to guide prospective hearing aid wearers. Our work is funded through reader support. When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission.

No items found.

As an audiologist, I've dedicated my career to enhancing communication for those with hearing difficulties. One recurring concern that patients express is the matter of privacy when using caption phones. It's only natural to question whether your conversations are being monitored or how sensitive information is handled. 

The technology we use — like caption phones — come with more than just the capability to transmit sound; they also carry a significant responsibility to safeguard the privacy of those who depend on them. In this guide, we will delve into the essentials of caption phones, focusing on privacy concerns and how they are addressed, to give you peace of mind and a better understanding of the communication solutions available to those with hearing loss and a need for captions to communicate over the phone.

Technology and Privacy with Caption Phones 

At their core, caption phones bridge the gap between hearing the spoken word while still having the clarity that written text can provide. These phones display real-time captions of the spoken word on a large, easy-to-read screen, enabling seamless telephone conversations, vital for those who rely on lip-reading in face-to-face interactions. 

But how do they actually work? There are two types of technology that help transform the spoken word in your phone call into written words on your screen. One uses a person to write the captions while the other relies on voice recognition technology that converts audio into text.

Privacy at the Forefront 

Communications over the phone often involve sensitive or personal information. Caption phones present a unique challenge: how can we ensure the security of conversations that are being transcribed and could potentially contain confidential details?

Live Captioning Agent Transcription

If you're wondering what goes on when a live captioning agent listens in on your phone calls, rest assured that there are stringent federal guidelines in place to protect your privacy. The professionals who provide captioning services are under strict regulatory measures from the

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that prevent the storage or recording of your conversations. Live captioning by captioning agents must maintain full confidentiality regarding all captioned conversations. Only the conversation partner’s words are transcribed, and all information shared — including but not limited to your social security number or personal details — are never recorded, documented, or preserved in any format. This commitment to confidentiality means that you can communicate with confidence, knowing your privacy is given the highest priority. Here are a few points that can help put your mind at ease: 

  • Captioning agent sign a confidentiality agreement and requirements are strictly enforced. 
  • No conversation is recorded in any way and no transcript can be obtained through CaptionCall of any conversation that was transcribed. 
  • At the end of each call, the content is deleted from the captioning agent's console. 
  • Once the call is completed, the only record of what your conversation partner said is on your phone's screen (if you don't delete it). 
  • Devices from CaptionCall show when a live captioning agent is on the call Vs. an automated voice recognition software. 

Speech Recognition Software and Privacy

Just as with a live captioning agent, advanced automatic speech recognition software used in caption phones also adheres to rigorous privacy standards. This advanced technology processes the spoken language and instantly displays it as text without creating a record of the conversation. Here's what you need to know about the privacy of speech recognition in caption phones: 

  • The software is designed to transcribe spoken words in real-time, with no storage of audio or transcripts post-conversation. 
  • There is no human intervention in this process, which minimizes the risk of any privacy breaches. 
  • State-of-the-art encryption protects the data flow from your voice to the text on the screen, ensuring that no third party can intercept or access your conversations. 
  • Once the call ends, just like with live transcriptions, the system is programmed to delete all contents of the captioned conversation, leaving no trace behind. 

These measures ensure that whether you are communicating through a human captioning agent or using automated speech recognition technology, your privacy is respected and your conversations remain confidential.

The Anatomy of a Caption Phone Call

The process of a caption phone call follows a straightforward yet sophisticated path from initiation to completion.  

  • Initially, when a user dials a number and the call is connected, the caption phone routes the conversation through a captioning service. If a live captioning agent service is used, the captioning agent, quickly begins translating the spoken words into text.  
  • Alternatively, if the system relies on automatic speech recognition software, the audio is immediately processed by the technology.  
  • The spoken words, whether transcribed by the live captioning agent or ASR software, are then swiftly displayed on the caption phone's screen, allowing the user to read in real-time what's being said.  
  • Throughout this process, advanced encryption safeguards the transmission of both the audio and the captions, ensuring complete privacy.  
  • As the call concludes, the system automatically deletes any captions from the screen — and from the live captioning agent's console or software's temporary storage — ensuring that no record of the dialogue is retained.

Case Study: Mary's Story

Needs and Concerns

Mary, a vibrant septuagenarian with a youthful spirit, had been feeling the walls of isolation closing in due to her hearing loss which caused her great frustration on the phone. Her audiologist recommended CaptionCall by Sorenson, describing how it could improve her phone conversations with captions to support understanding of what was said. Mary's enthusiasm battled with her concerns about privacy, especially after hearing troubling stories about phone scams and data breaches in the news. 

Personal security was paramount to Mary. She voiced her worries to the CaptionCall team, who assured her that their service was built with her privacy in mind. No conversation would be recorded; no record of it would exist beyond the screen before her, and even that, Mary could erase at her discretion. It was a relief for Mary to hear about laws that protect her privacy. 

Mary decided to go ahead with the caption phone setup. She chose the national-leading service from CaptionCall. She watched as the CaptionCall phone was installed in her living room. The technician even showed her how to delete the transcriptions after the call, erasing the only record of the call.

Privacy In Action

With the push of a button, she initiated her first call to her bank. She was immediately greeted by the sight of words flowing across the screen, mirroring the voice on the line. It was a revelation — the blend of hearing and seeing the conversation brought a level of clarity she hadn't experienced in years. Nothing that Mary said was recorded in the text, only the words of the bank representative. 

As she discussed her account details, she was relieved to know that everything discussed would be deleted and not recorded. Though her personal details were spoken aloud, they were not being stored or recorded by CaptionCall. This singular interaction was just a moment in time, and it would leave no trace once ended. 

Later, Mary called her daughter. Laughter and updates filled the airwaves, their words scrolled momentarily on the screen, allowing Mary to fully engage in the warmth of the conversation. After they exchanged goodbyes, Mary watched as the captions vanished from the screen. 

While Mary was skeptical at first, her initial fears ebbed away, replaced by a newfound independence in her communications. She found herself connecting more, sharing more, and in doing so, living more — all with the peace of mind that her conversations were just that, hers and no one else’s.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, technology like CaptionCall by Sorenson is empowering for those with hearing loss who need captions to communicate effectively during phone calls. But technology also comes with its challenges. If you're worried about your privacy when it comes to caption technology, we hope that this guide gives you some peace of mind.  

Caption phone technology is a useful tool that can foster independence and connection while maintaining commitment to user privacy. Mary's story is a testament to the transformative impact of caption phones, serving as a bridge over the barriers that hearing loss can create.  

Each conversation remains private, giving users like Mary the confidence to engage with the world knowing their words remain their own. In our fast-paced digital age, caption phones remind us that technology can be both advanced and compassionate, ensuring that our human need for connection is met with respect and confidentiality.

CaptionCall and CaptionCall Mobile are available in the United States only. FEDERAL LAW PROHIBITS ANYONE BUT REGISTERED USERS WITH HEARING LOSS FROM USING INTERNET PROTOCOL (IP) CAPTIONED TELEPHONES WITH THE CAPTIONS TURNED ON. IP captioned telephone service may use a live operator. The operator generates captions of what the other party to the call says. These captions are then sent to your phone. There is a cost for each minute of captions generated, paid from a federally administered fund. No costs are passed along to individuals who qualify for the service. The CaptionCall phone and CaptionCall Mobile app remain the property of Sorenson in order to provide ongoing support, service, and upgrades.

No items found.
No items found.
No items found.
No items found.
No items found.

Frequently asked questions

No items found.

Ask Soundly

This is some text inside of a div block.
This is some text inside of a div block.
  • This is some text inside of a div block.
  • This is some text inside of a div block.
  1. This is some text inside of a div block.
  2. This is some text inside of a div block.
This is some text inside of a div block.
This is an AI-powered chat experience that synthesizes product manuals, white papers, and our content to give you instant answers. This feature is experimental. Verify all results and speak to your healthcare professional before making final decisions. Learn more in our updated Privacy Policy.