Article by aubankaitis AU Bankaitis's Audiology Blog from Oaktree Products All products available from Century Hearing Aids
Business Phone Solutions for Hearing Aid Wearers: Part 1
This is the first of a three-part series addressing ideal business phone solutions for hearing aid wearers experiencing difficulty using the phone at work. Why a three-part series? Because viable business phone solutions depend on available hearing aid features (streamer vs. no-streamer, T-coil vs. no T-coil) as well as the type of business phone being used (PBX system phone vs. mobile phone). Part 1 specifically addresses the use of standard PBX phone systems for users of streamers and/or T-coil equipped hearing instruments. The outlined product solutions allow the use of the business phone without the need to remove hearing instruments from the ear.
What is a PBX Phone System and Why Should You Care?
PBX stands for Private Branch Exchange, a special type of phone system that connects internal telephones to one another within a business as well as to a public switched telephone network. This type of system not only allows users to make outgoing calls, but to make internal calls to co-workers via a 3 to 4 digit extension. Why should you care? Commercially available amplified telephones will NOT work with PBX systems. In other words, do not recommend an amplified telephone as a business phone solution in the presence of a PBX system because the amplified phone will not work in this environment. Here is what you should recommend:
FOR HEARING INSTRUMENT WEARERS USING STREAMERS:
1. ClearSounds QH2 Bluetooth Hub & Phone Amplifier (CS-QH2): this is an in-line amplifier that will convert any corded or cordless phone (including a business phone running on a PBX system) into a Bluetooth phone. Once connected to the business phone, the CS-QH2 may be paired to the hearing aid streamer, enabling the user to hear business phone calls via their hearing instruments in a hands-free fashion. NOTE: when used in the Bluetooth mode, the 30dB of adjustable amplification offered by the CS-QH2 will not be accessible for the incoming call. For this particular situation, the intended use of the CS-QH2 is to provide the ability to hear business phone calls through their hearing aids. The hearing instrument telephone program should be programmed as needed to accommodate amplification needs.
FOR HEARING INSTRUMENT WEARERS with T-COILS, NO STREAMER:
2. ClearSounds QH2 Bluetooth Hub & Phone Amplifier (CS-QH2) + Bluetooth Amplified Neckloop: in the absence of a hearing instrument streamer, the CS-QH2 remains an option as a business phone solution in instances where the hearing instruments are equipped with T-coils. Rather than a streamer, a Bluetooth amplified neckloop may be paired to the CS-QH2. Incoming calls will be routed wirelessly from the CS-QH2 to the Bluetooth neckloop and then directly to the user’s T-coil equipped hearing instruments.
3. Plantronics Non-Bluetooth Professional Office Neckloop System: this configuration requires the purchase of three separate components: 1) the Plantronics M22 Phone Amplifier (Item# 62421), 2) ClearSounds CLA7V2 Amplified Neckloop (Item# CS-CLA7v2), and 3) the Quick Connect Cord (Item# CS-M22C). This particular business phone solution is also available in a bundle whereby all three components are packaged as one item (Item# PLAN-M22-PONS) and shipped together.
While this is not an exhaustive list of options, the provided recommendations represent the most ideal solutions for users of T-coil equipped hearing instruments, both with or without streamers, experiencing difficulty using the phone at work. Additional options will be reviewed in Part 2 of this series, addressing business phone solutions for hearing instrument wearers without T-coils.
Business Phone Solutions for Hearing Aid Wearers: Part 2
This is the second post of a three-part series addressing ideal business phone solutions for hearing aid wearers experiencing difficulty using the phone at work. Part 1 outlined options for users of streamers and/or T-coil equipped hearing instruments using standard PBX phone systems. This post will also address the use of standard PBX phone systems for users of hearing instruments that are NOT equipped with T-coils and DO NOT use streamers. The outlined solutions allow the use of the business phone without the need to remove hearing instruments from the ear.
FOR NON-T-COIL EQUIPPED HEARING INSTRUMENTS WITHOUT STREAMERS
1. In-line or strap-on telephone amplifier: in-line amplifiers are designed to connect to existing telephones and provide additional amplification (usually 30-40 dB) to the incoming caller’s voice. Two popular and inexpensive models include the HA40 (shown left) by Clarity and the ClearSounds Portable Telephone Amplifier. Another option includes the Plantronics M22 Phone Amplifier. This is a more expensive option than the other two as it offers the ability for the user to switch between handset and headset; in addition, if the hearing instrument wearer eventually
upgrades to T-coils, the M22 will support a neckloop. As with most in-line amplifiers, both of these products are designed to work with corded telephones. In the event the business telephone is a cordless model, a portable strap-on telephone amplifier (shown right) may be used although it may be used with a corded telephone too. The amplifier is secured over the earpiece of the business phone’s handset and amplifies up to 20 dB.
The ClearSounds QH2 Bluetooth Hub & Phone Amplifier (CS-QH2) mentioned in Part 1 remains an option too although in this particular scenario, its Bluetooth capabilities would not be utilized (i.e. no streamer to pair to; no T-coils to support use of Bluetooth neckloop). Unlike the three previously mentioned in-line amplifiers, the CS-QH2 is designed to work with both corded and cordless telephones. Once connected to the business phone, the CS-QH2 provides up to 30 dB of amplification. Even though the Bluetooth capabilities of the CS-QH2 would not be used in this scenario, you will still end up paying for the technology. The CS-QH2 will cost about six times more than HA40 or ClearSounds Phone Amplifier.
2. Amplified Handset: the handset of the business phone may be replaced with any number of amplified handsets available on the market. Most are designed to provide up to approximately 20 dB of amplification. Depending on the specific model, a thumbwheel built into the handset allows for volume adjustment or a button located on the underside of the handset must be continually pressed to activate amplification. When looking for an amplified handset, read the fine print as some business phones require the amplified handset to be from the same manufacturer as the business phone and/or some amplified handsets will only work with analog phone systems and will not be compatible with digital telephone systems.
The above recommendations represent the most ideal solutions for hearing instrument wearers experiencing difficulty using a business telephone in a PBX environment who do not have streamers or T-coils. In each case, it will be necessary for the hearing instrument wearer to get comfortable with holding the handset close to the hearing instrument’s microphone at a position that will not cause feedback. Part 3 of this series will outline phone solutions to hearing instrument wearers who rely on their mobile phone as their primary business phone.
Business Phone Solutions for Hearing Aid Wearers: Part 3
This is the third post in a three-part series addressing ideal business phone solutions for hearing aid wearers experiencing difficulty using the phone at work. Part 1 and Part 2 both addressed options for hearing instrument wearers employed in traditional work settings experiencing difficulty using a PBX phone system in the office. Many people conduct business from their home office utilizing a standard landline phone (i.e. non-PBX) and/or via their Bluetooth-enabled cell phone. In either instance, hearing instrument wearers need viable phone solutions for their business communication needs. Here is what you should recommend:
FOR HEARING INSTRUMENT WEARERS with STREAMERS NEEDING HELP WITH LANDLINE HOME PHONE ONLY:
In this situation, the hearing instrument wearer uses the streamer for making and receiving cell phone calls but experiences difficulty using the landline phone within their home business. The most straightforward solution involves replacing the landline home phone with one of the following:
1. ClearSounds iConnect A6BT Amplified Cordless Phone: (CS-A6BT): this cordless amplified telephone is specifically designed to be paired with a hearing aid streamer, Bluetooth headset, or a Bluetooth neckloop. For the hearing instrument wearer using a streamer, the CS-A6BT provides a hands-free landline solution without necessitating removal of hearing instruments. NOTE: this phone will NOT pair with Bluetooth mobile phones.
2. Clarity Giant Bluetooth Speakerphone (Giant): as with the CS-A6BT, the Giant Bluetooth Speakerphone specifically pairs with a hearing aid streamer, Bluetooth headset, or a Bluetooth neckloop. For the hearing instrument wearer using a streamer, this phone also offers a hands-free landline solution without necessitating removal of hearing instruments. NOTE: this phone will NOT pair with Bluetooth mobile telephones. In addition, as a speakerphone, the Giant does NOT come packaged with a handset. An optional expandable handset (XLC3.5HSB) is available; it is simply a handset that enables the user to use the Giant either as a speakerphone or like a traditional cordless telephone. The XLC3.5HSB will not work alone and uses DECT rather than Bluetooth to communicate with the Giant base.
FOR HEARING INSTRUMENT WEARERS with T-COILS and NO STREAMER NEEDING HELP WITH CELL PHONE:
1. Amplified Bluetooth Neckloop: for the wearer of T-coil equipped hearing instruments, an amplified Bluetooth neckloop such as the Quattro 4.0 or the original Quattro represent viable options, particularly for active cell phone users who use the cell phone in many different environments (i.e. home office, car, etc.).
2. Non-Bluetooth Amplified Neckloop: another potential amplified neckloop option in addition to the ones mentioned above includes the ClearSounds CLA7v2 Amplified Power Neckloop. This particular neckloop is not Bluetooth but comes equipped with various connection cables, including one for iPhone connection.
3. Bluetooth Neckloop: traditional Bluetooth neckloops that do not offer additional amplification may also be considered including the Beetle H-3ST or Artone-3 Loopset.
4. HearAll Cell Phone Amplifier (SA40): this product is a handset that pairs with a Bluetooth cell phone, providing up to 40 dB of amplification. Once paired, the SA40 may be used like a traditional amplified handset, set to T-mode for use with hearing instrument T-coils, or in speakerphone mode for hands-free use.
5. ClearSounds iConnect A1600BT Amplified Cordless Phone with Bluetooth (CS-A1600BT): the CS-A1600BT represents an option for hearing instrument wearers that need to hear cell phone conversations louder/clearer in one specific environment, such as the home. The CS-A1600BT is designed to make or accept calls from a paired cell phone via the wireless cell phone line, amplifying the incoming caller’s voice. In addition, this cordless Bluetooth phone may be connected to a traditional landline and can also function like a standard cordless amplified telephone. NOTE: this phone will only pair with Bluetooth cell phones; it will not successfully pair with hearing aid streamers, Bluetooth headsets, or Bluetooth neckloop. In addition, this phone will not work with PBX systems (i.e. traditional office settings). There is also a bundled pack available (CS-A1600BTBUN) that comes with the CS-A1600BT and an expandable handset.
The above recommendations represent viable solutions for users of T-coil equipped hearing instruments, both with or without streamers, experiencing difficulty conversing over the phone via a landline home business phone and/or cell phone who do not want to remove their hearing instruments. There are other options available beyond the recommendations listed in this blog post (i.e. EtyBlu2); however, this post focused on those options that enabled the hearing aid wearer to keep the instruments in the ears. For additional information, refer to the previously posted Part 1 and Part 2 addressing business phone solutions for hearing aid wearers using PBX systems.
All these Products are available from us at Century Hearing Aids...just call.