The very title of this post might sound like a bit of a contradiction in terms. After all, why would you want to produce a mobile phone for people who can’t hear? Surely there can’t be a market for mobile phones for the hard of hearing?
Wrong…..Wrong…..Wrong…..And here’s why,
I suffer from a severe hearing loss but I am not deaf. Due to the great advances in technology, I can hear very well with the assistance of my two hearing aids.Also, deaf people can also use a mobile phone very effectively.
With the continuing advance of social media in taking over the communication world, the vast majority of “dialogue” now takes place by text, tweet facebook comments, and Instagram etc… How many times a day do you actually use your mobile to phone someone?
The hard of hearing or hearing loss community worldwide has approximately 360 million members. That’s how many of us the world health organization estimates exist today. That sounds like a very healthy market to me.
Are mobile phones for the hard of hearing any good?
Up to and including the first smartphones, the hearing loss community wasn’t really a consideration for phone manufacturers. If they bothered at all, then they simply put out a model that had a louder ringtone.
With the onset of Bluetooth technology, we were able to find ways around this and have a better connection with our phones. Thanks to telecommunication companies such as Amplicomms, who developed their Bluetooth neckloops we were able to link the neckloop directly to our phones and to our hearing aids. This allowed us to hear the phone sound directly from our hearing devices.
The problems with these neckloop devices are that the early models were very prone to cutting out. This meant that conversations were cut off in mid-sentence and it was a scramble to switch the hearing aid back to normal setting or in most cases, the call was just dropped altogether.
The development of smartphone technology.
Now, I don’t know for sure if the manufacturing companies were being lobbied by pressure groups, or if they realized the size of the hearing loss global community or if the advances in mobile phone technology just happened to mirror the advances in hearing aid technology but suddenly the revolution is upon us.
Those of us with hearing loss can now avail ourselves of the exact same mobile phone technology as everyone else on the planet. If the iPhone is regarded as the most popular and technologically advanced mobile on the market then we can actually do more with it than people with no hearing impairment.
Apple and a hearing aid manufacturer GN ReSound teamed together to produce a hearing aid compatible with the iPhone, iPad, and iPod. By downloading an app from the apple store you could enable your hearing aids to interact directly with your Apple devices. This would turn your hearing aids into a wireless Bluetooth stereo headset, a remote control for your hearing aids, an audio streaming programme and much much more. The hearing aid model used for this was the ReSound LiNX 7. Check out my review here.
Apple is not the first to get in on the act. In fact, manufacturers such as Amplicomms and Doro have a much longer history of developing communication devices for people with hearing loss.
In fact, it is the case with Doro that they have produced their latest amplified smartphone which really ranks up there with some of the so-called better smartphones on the market today and at a far better price. You can check out my review of the Doro Liberto 825 smartphone here.
So all’s well that ends well? Actually not quite.
I suppose it was too good to be true. Whilst we certainly have access to the same level of technology, it will cost those of us with hearing loss significantly more to acquire that technology.
The ReSound LiNX 7 hearing aids that I mentioned above, that can connect directly with your iPhone will set you back a cool £1395.00 and they are not the most expensive model on the market – not by a long way. Put that cost on top of an iPhone and you are looking at over £2000.00.
Anyway, that is an argument for another day. The fact is that advances in technology mean that having a hearing loss does not have to be a barrier to the best that mobile phones have to offer. We no longer have to settle for second best.
Mobile phones for the hard of hearing have come on by leaps and bounds over the last 15 years. As technology continues to advance, hopefully, the pricing on some of the top models will come down to a reasonable level.
The recent changes to the law in America regarding over the counter hearing aids will also have an effect on pricing. More competition in the market will invariably drive prices down.
Thank you for taking the time to read my post. As always I would love to hear from you. Please feel free to leave a comment or ask a question. Do you wear hearing aids? Can you link them to your mobile phone? What sort of costs did you incur? Do you know of a cheaper way to access smartphone technology for people with hearing loss? All comments will be answered asap.