Maximize Your Phone Conversations with Hearing Aids: Expert Strategies

As an audiologist, I understand how challenging it can be to communicate effectively on the phone when you have hearing loss. Fortunately, there are several strategies you can use to improve your ability to hear during phone conversations, particularly when using hearing aids. So how do you hear better on phone calls using hearing aids?

Reduce Background Noise

Reducing background noise is critical to improving your ability to hear during phone conversations even with hearing aids. One way to reduce background noise is by talking in a quiet, empty room. This can be as simple as closing the door to a private room or moving to a quieter area of your home. If you’re on the go, consider stepping outside or finding a quiet corner where you can talk without being distracted by background noise.

Another way to reduce background noise is by turning off the TV or any other distracting sound. Even a low-volume sound in the background can make it difficult to hear on the phone. Additionally, try to avoid talking on the phone in noisy environments such as coffee shops or public transportation where it’s challenging to hear the conversation. By reducing background noise, you’ll be better able to focus on the conversation and hear more clearly. If you are in a high-noise area texting may be a better option.

If you struggle with hearing in background noise, see my recommendation for the best hearing aids in background noise.

Where to Hold the Phone

Another important factor to consider when using hearing aids during phone conversations is how you hold the phone. If you have a behind-the-ear (BTE) or receiver-in-canal (RIC) model of hearing aids, it’s essential to hold the phone receiver above your ear canal, on top of the pinna. This is because the microphones on these types of hearing aids sit above the ear, and if you hold the phone receiver too close to the ear canal, the microphones will not pick up anything and your hearing aid actually acts as an earplug making it even more difficult to hear the conversation clearly.

When you hold the phone receiver on top of your pinna, the sound waves will travel more directly to the microphones, providing a clearer and more natural sound. If you’re unsure of the proper placement, consult your audiologist, who can provide guidance on the best technique based on your specific hearing aid model.

Use Speakerphone

Using the speakerphone function on your phone can be helpful when you’re in a private place. The speakerphone allows you to hear the conversation in both ears, which can make it easier to follow along. It can also be more comfortable than holding the phone close to your ear for an extended period of time.

However, it’s important to remember that using a speaker phone may not always be appropriate or effective. If you’re in a public place or around others, it may be disruptive or uncomfortable to use the speakerphone. Additionally, the quality of sound can vary depending on the phone and the environment, so it’s important to test it out and see if it works for you.

Utilize Bluetooth Feature on Your Hearing Aids

Many hearing aids today come equipped with Bluetooth capabilities (almost all professionally fit hearing aids have Bluetooth and some OTC hearing aids). This means that you can connect your hearing aids directly to your phone and stream phone calls directly to your hearing aids. One of the biggest benefits of using Bluetooth is that it allows for binaural sound, meaning you can hear the conversation in both ears, which can improve your ability to follow along. This is better than a speaker phone as it keeps conversations private.

See the article on how to troubleshoot Bluetooth issues.

Additionally, using Bluetooth can help reduce background noise. This is done by the hearing aids attenuating the microphones, which can improve the signal-to-noise ratio and make it easier to hear the conversation. I would highly recommend your next pair of hearing aids that have Bluetooth capabilities.

Consider a Caption Call Phone or use Caption Call App

Caption call phones are an excellent option for individuals who are experiencing difficulty hearing during phone conversations. These phones display captions of the conversation on a screen, allowing you to read along as you listen. They work on both cell phones and landlines and are often available for free. These phones are especially useful for those who have difficulty understanding certain accents or for those who are hard of hearing and may struggle to hear certain words or phrases.

The caption call phone service works by transcribing the conversation through voice recognition software. The software then displays the transcribed text on the phone’s screen in real-time (1 -2 second delay). This technology has come a long way in recent years, with accuracy rates consistently above 95%. This means that the captions you see on the screen are often an exact replica of what the person on the other end of the line is saying.

One of the best things about caption call phones is that they’re simple to use. All you need to do is register for the service, and you’re ready to go. When you make or receive a call, the captions will automatically appear on the screen. This can be a game-changer for individuals who previously had difficulty following conversations on the phone. By providing a visual representation of the conversation, caption call phones can improve communication and help individuals feel more confident during phone conversations.

Jonathan Javid Au.D.

Jonathan Javid Au.D., a seasoned audiologist with an extensive background in the field of audiology. With over 11 years of invaluable clinical experience, Jonathan has dedicated his career to helping individuals enhance their hearing and improve their quality of life.

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