Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Deaf Telephone Technology

by Owen Jones

It is hard for hearing people to put themselves in the situation of the deaf or hard of hearing. Just think of the amount of verbal communication that most us are concerned with for about sixteen hours every day. Where would you be for instance without your telephone. Fifteen years ago, people got by with only fixed point lines some how.

Between the house and your destination there were only telephone boxes. Not many of us could return to those days. Some people never seem to get off their mobile phones and if they are not phoning friends, they are using free voice over the Internet services (VOIP). Perhaps we do not talk to each other face to face any more, but it has not stopped us talking to friends on the other side of the country or even on the other side of the planet.

We hearing people take all this for granted, but if you are deaf, all of that becomes much more complicated. This is why many deaf people feel cut off from friends and left behind by racing technological advances designed for hearing, sighted people.

Having said that, there have been technological advances that can make communication for the deaf easier, but the systems are more costly and the advancements are not so rapid. When the so-called 'deaf telephone' came on the market, the deaf community welcomed it with open arms. There are two ways that the deaf phone can operate.

The first and the cheaper of the two is the textphone. Some of these are portable and can be integrated into any standard telephone. With this system, you have to plug the minicom in and switch it on, place the handset on the minicom and dial the number. When the other end picks up, you just type your message, likewise you will receive typed messages back.

Just as with mobile texting, there are all sorts of codes and signs to let the other person that you are thinking, waiting have another caller etc. If the other person does not have a minicom, you can use a relay service which will convert your typing into speech and vice-versa.

If you would like to go up-market from the textphone, there is the videophone. This is a fairly recent innovation. With this technology, the viewers see a signer in a bottom corner of the picture signing the message in real time. This can be accomplished either with a dedicated videophone terminal or over the Internet using a webcam.

Many people prefer this technique, although you have to be able to sign first of course, so it is not an option for the newly deaf. Another difficulty with signing is that there are so many types. Every country appears to have its own signing language and some countries such as the United States even have several.

In fact, comparatively few people are completely deaf and it is possible for some hearing aids to be plugged into the telephone receiver and then adjusted for volume and ambient noise. Some mobiles will also permit this kind of communication.

Owen Jones, the writer of this article writes on many topics, but is currently concerned with hearing aids supplies. If you would like to know more or check out some great offers, please go to our website at Digital Hearing Aids Prices.

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