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      Using mobiles and smartphones

      Mobiles and smartphones can be challenging when you have hearing loss. You can't make the most of useful visual clues such as lip reading and the quality of the sound being transmitted is often quite poor. But you shouldn't avoid using them – there are lots of devices and features that can help.

      Mobile phones

      Most mobile phones are designed to be easy to use and don't have as many features as a smartphone.

      They have push-button dialling and a much smaller display. If you have a mobile with features designed for someone with hearing loss you'll have handset amplification to make callers’ voices louder – and a loud ringer.

      It'll also vibrate to let you know you have an incoming call or a new text message. And it's likely to be hearing aid compatible, so you can use it with your hearing aids if they have a hearing loop (T) setting. Some have Bluetooth so you can use them with wireless devices such as Bluetooth neckloops.

      Other accessibility features may include a 'talking keypad' – ideal if your sight is impaired – and an SOS button that dials pre-stored contact numbers of relatives and friends when you need assistance.

      Some mobile phones are HD Voice certified. This means they provide improved speech clarity when used on a mobile network that supports HD Voice (please note that the person on the other end of the line also has to use an HD Voice-certified phone).

      Smartphones

      Most smartphones have key accessibility features for people with sight loss, hearing loss and difficulties with their dexterity. Hearing loss accessibility features include enhanced audio for phone calls and for hearing aid wearers; there will be a loop/telecoil function on the device (it may be referred to as the hearing aid setting instead of loop or telecoil).

      These settings are not switched on automatically; you'll have to activate them. Go into your device’s 'settings' function – you'll find all the different features in the accessibility folder. If you have trouble finding the folder, you'll be able to find out how to access it in the phone’s user manual.

      Some of the newer hearing aids also have the 'made for iPhone' (MFi) technology. This means that your hearing aids can connect directly to your smartphone and you can hear all audio from your device directly into your hearing aids. You can also control the settings of your hearing aids through your phones app.

      The technology is called MFi as it was developed with Apple but this feature can also be used on Android. Be aware, however, that the app has limited features for controlling the hearing aid settings on Android apps and audio can't be streamed directly into hearing aids from Android devices either. For hearing aids that don’t connect directly to your smartphone, you can use a compatible Bluetooth streamer which will act as an intermediary to connect your two devices. These will also often have an app to control the settings of your hearing aids.

      Smartphones also have several apps that can help you with everyday tasks and situations.

      Hearing safety


      Mobile phones can be very loud. Always start at a low volume and gradually increase to a comfortable level.