For people with hearing loss, weak vision or arthritis, using a standard telephone can be challenging. Fortunately, there are phones on the market today that can help. Here are some of the best…
For fast help in adjusting the phone: Clarity Professional XL45. This phone offers 50 decibels (dB) of sound amplification (in addition to the standard phone dB level of 12 to 15). It also has large “talk back” buttons that speak the numbers and a very large caller-ID display screen. The phone not only helps seniors with hearing and vision problems, it also is ideal for those who struggle with technology. The XL45 offers a unique feature called “ClarityLogic” that, at the press of a button, connects you with a customer service representative who can remotely adjust your phone’s settings anytime for optimal sound quality. The representative even can program in the names and numbers of people you call often. $149.95.800-426-3738, www.clarityproducts.com (and click on “Products”).
For emergencies: Geemarc Ampli 600. This remote-controlled emergency response phone comes with a neck pendant and SOS buttons on a wristband that you press to automatically dial the phone’s preprogrammed emergency numbers if you can’t get to the phone. It offers 50 dB of amplification, caller ID, a speakerphone and one-touch emergency dial buttons. $199.95. 888-515-8120, www.teltex.com.
For owners with soft voices: Serene HD-40S. For seniors with difficult-to hear voices, the HD-40S can amplify the outgoing voice by as much as 40 dB. This phone also provides photomemory dialing (you simply press a picture of the person you wish to call) and 18-dB amplification for -incoming calls. $129.95. 800-825-6758, www.harriscomm.com.
For limited mobility: Clarity RC200. This remote-controlled speakerphone provides hands-free conversations from up to 15 feet away. It has voice-activated answering capabilities that allow you to answer incoming calls by just saying “hello,” and it disconnects when the caller hangs up and the dial tone returns. It also comes with a wireless remote control that will let you make and receive calls from a distance. $399. 800-426-3738, www.clarityproducts.com (and click on “Products”).
For severe hearing loss: CapTel 800i. This captioned phone lets you listen to the caller and read word-for-word captions of what he/she is saying on the phone’s display window. It is sold through Weitbrecht Communications for $99. Many states have programs that offer these phones for free to qualified residents. Visit www.captel.com, and click on your state to learn more, or call 888-269-7477.
Cordless phone: Serene CL-60A. The CL-60A offers big “talk-back” buttons that announce the numbers you dial, up to 50 dB of amplification, tone controls, amplified talking caller ID and an amplified slow-play answering machine that makes messages easier to understand. $169.95. 800-825-6758, www.harriscomm.com.
FREE PHONES: Many states offer specialized programs that give free amplified telephones to residents in need. Check with your phone company.
Jim Miller, an advocate for senior citizens, writes “Savvy Senior,” a weekly information column syndicated in more than 400 newspapers nationwide. Based in Norman, Oklahoma, he also offers a free senior news service at www.savvysenior.org.