Man wearing hearing aids happily using a cell phone.

These days, the cellular phone network is a great deal more reliable (and there’s a lot less static involved). But sometimes, it will still be challenging to hear what the individual on the other end is saying. In fact, there’s one population for whom using a phone isn’t always a reliable experience: those with hearing loss.

There must be an easy solution for that, right? Can’t you use some hearing aids to help you hear phone conversations more clearly? Well, that isn’t… exactly… the way it works. Even though hearing aids do help with conversations, with phone conversations it can be a bit more difficult. But there are some guidelines for phone calls with hearing aids that can help you get a bit more from your next conversation.

Why hearing aids and phone calls don’t always play nice

Hearing loss usually isn’t immediate. It’s not like someone simply turns down the general volume on your ears. You have a tendency to lose bits and pieces at a time. It’s likely that you won’t even notice you have hearing loss and your brain will try to utilize contextual and visual clues to compensate.

When you talk on the phone, you no longer have these visual hints. Your Brain lacks the information it requires to fill in the blanks. There’s only a very muffled voice and you only hear bits and pieces of the spectrum of the other individual’s voice.

Hearing aids can be helpful – here’s how

Hearing aids can help with this. Many of those missing pieces can be filled in with hearing aids. But talking on the phone while wearing hearing aids can present some accessibility problems.

For example, placing your hearing aids next to a phone speaker can produce some harsh speaker-to-speaker interference. This can result in some awkward gaps in conversation because you can’t hear that well.

Bettering your ability to hear phone conversations

So what measures can be taken to help make your hearing aids work better with a phone? Most hearing specialists will suggest several tips:

  • Download a video call app: You may have an easier time distinguishing phone conversations on a video call. It’s not that the sound quality is magically better, it’s that your brain has access to all of that fantastic visual information again. And this can help you add context to what’s being said.
  • You can use your Bluetooth function on your hearing aid to connect to your phone. Wait, can hearing aids connect to smartphones? Yes, they can! This means that if your hearing aids are Bluetooth enabled, phone calls can be streamed directly to your phone. This can eliminate feedback and make your phone calls a little more private, so it’s a good place to begin if you’re having difficulty on your phone.
  • Hearing aids aren’t the only assistive hearing device you can use: Devices, including numerous text-to-type services, are available to help you hear better when you’re having phone conversations.
  • Consider using speakerphone to conduct the majority of your phone calls: This will protect against the most severe feedback. There might still be a little distortion, but your phone conversation should be mostly understandable (while maybe not necessarily private). Knowing how to hold the phone better with hearing aids (that is, away from your ears) is essential, and speakerphone is how you achieve this!
  • Try to take your phone calls in a quiet spot. The less noise around you, the easier it will be to pick out the voice of the individual you’re speaking with. Your hearing aids will be much more effective by lowering background noise.
  • Be truthful with the individual you’re talking to on the phone: It’s ok to admit if you’re having difficulties! Many people will be fine moving the discussion to text message or email or video calls (or simply being a little extra patient).

Finding the correct set of solutions will depend on what you use the phone for, how frequently you’re on the phone, and what your overall communication requirements are like. Your ability to once again enjoy phone conversations will be made possible with the correct approach.

Call us for some help and guidance on how to best use your phone and hearing aids together.

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