Telephone tips that will ring a bell

Helpful tips to make making and receiving telephone calls easier when you have hearing loss

Confident businessman speaking on the phone and looking on the wristwatch in cafeOne of the biggest challenges people with hearing loss face is hearing telephone calls clearly.

And with many people no longer having a landline, making calls from mobile phones has become the norm. The good news is modern hearing aids have made such great strides in solving this problem, particularly with the convenience of Bluetooth streaming of phone calls directly into your hearing aids.

Even with this technology, there is plenty you can do to make taking telephone calls more clear and comfortable.

Find a quiet place

Background noise is frustrating even for people with normal hearing, and it is especially vexing for those with hearing loss. Give yourself the best possible conditions to have that phone conversation by finding a quiet place.

That is easy when you’re at home - you can leave the living room where the TV is on and go to another room, the bedroom for instance, to make your call.

If you happen to be out and about, your challenges are magnified, but not unsolvable. You might need to tell your caller that you’ll call them back when you’ve reached a suitable location.

If you’re out in the city or a busy shopping centre, quiet spaces can be difficult to come across.

One place to consider in taking a phone call in your car when it is parked safely. Other ideas include ducking into the business centre of hotels where they have small quiet rooms with computer access for guests. Libraries and other community centres have ‘phone friendly’ zones that will be quieter than a shopping centre for you to make the call. A quiet café with booth seating might be another option.

Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification

It is more important that you understand what’s being said, than to pretend you heard correctly the first time.

If you are unsure you heard right, be confident enough to stop the conversation and ask for something to be repeated or relate back to the caller what you understood from that part of the conversation and ask for confirmation or clarification.

Beautiful shopping woman texting on her cell phoneTake control of the timing

If you are expecting an important phone call, arrange with the person to call at a time where you know you will be in a quiet location and  in the right frame of mind to concentrate on the conversation.

Video calls are almost as good as face to face

Many of us make use of visual and lip reading cues to give context to conversation. If you have hearing loss, you might find that you rely on this more than you realise.

Fortunately, today’s smartphones offer the convenience of video phone calls at a push of a button. Make sure you have a good source of light to illuminate your face and ask your caller to do the same.

Other Tips

  • Sometimes two ears are better than one, so consider putting your call on speaker phone .
  • Hold the phone up near your hearing aid microphone. This might be above your ear in the case of a behind the ear hearing aid, or more toward your ear canal in the case of an in-the-canal model.
  • Prevent annoying screeching caused by feedback by tilting the phone speaker away from you head.

How to help someone with hearing loss hear you effectively on the phone

  • First of all, don’t yell. This can change your voice and make you less able to be intelligible. Choose an appropriate volume to speak
  • Call from a quiet location. Lots of background noise makes conversations down right difficult.
  • Speak directly into the microphone, but don’t hold it too close to your mouth as it can distort your voice.
  • Think before you speak. If you are a naturally a fast talker, slow your cadence to ensure that you can be easily understood. There is no need to speak too slow. Here is a great article on how to modulate your rate of speech.