Featured image forAssistive Technology Spotlight: Captioned Phones Help with Communication During Quarantine

Unprecedented times. Pandemic. Hysteria. Headlines are littered with words grasping to embody what we are experiencing today. In our homes, we are more likely to be using words like isolation, quarantine, lockdown, anxiety, depression and toilet paper, to name a few. We are locked in our homes glued to the TV and social media trying to absorb the extent of the drama that is unfolding outside our doors. For those with hearing loss, the stress and anxiety are further exacerbated by the frustration of not being able to understand important announcements disseminated at press conferences and the daily news. Have you ever tried to read the broadcast news’ captioning?

Add to this growing sense of isolation, depression and anxiety, the further frustration of not being able to communicate over the phone with medical professionals, friends and family. Many people with hearing loss now find themselves disconnected from their support network. Assistive technology is becoming more important and is being used in more ways than ever before.

Just this week an elderly couple received their first captioning phone through a company called CaptionCall. They have six children, twelve grandchildren and five great grandchildren. They shared with the CaptionCall Trainer who installed the phone, that the feeling of isolation was intensifying with every week in quarantine. The husband, who has severe hearing loss, was never too concerned about using the phone before. He let his wife handle the calls to schedule appointments, refill prescriptions and keep up to date with family members. However, now after weeks of quarantine and only having his wife with whom to speak, the loneliness from the isolation was draining him. With the captioning phone, provided by CaptionCall, he is now able to comfortably speak with his children without saying “what” and “repeat that” over and over again, with increasing agitation. He can enjoy a conversation and emotionally connect with his loved ones.

Many people are now relying on captioning to accurately communicate with medical professionals and keep in contact with loved ones. CaptionCall is experiencing an unprecedented demand for captioning as county after county, state after state, issue stay-at-home mandates. Our phones are a life-line to the world outside our doors.

The phone and captioning service offered by CaptionCall are provided through the federal government at no charge to individuals who have difficulties hearing on the phone. CaptionCall is paid to provide this service through the Telecommunications Relay Service Fund which is administered by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The program was established under the auspices of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The only qualification to participate is hearing loss which can be confirmed by most medical professionals, and there are no financial qualifications. To get CaptionCall contact your hearing care provider, medical professional, Veterans Affairs (VA) or Veterans Service Officer (VSO), or go directly to https://captioncall.com/phone/ to request a phone.

If you or someone you know is struggling to understand conversations over the phone, you can obtain more information at www.captioncall.com or call PATF’s Board member Wendy Davis, Eastern PA Account Manager for CaptionCall at 484-639-4494.