Free Phones for Hard of Hearing Seniors – How Do They Work

Free Phones for Hard of Hearing Seniors – How Do They Work

Hearing loss can negatively impact the quality of life, especially in older adults. For one, it makes using a telephone close to impossible which can deprive seniors with hearing problems the benefits of social interaction.

Free phones for hard of hearing seniors (commonly called caption phones) can help older adults and just about anyone with hearing impairment stay connected with the important people in their lives.

Learn how caption phones work and how you can get one for your aging loved one with disabling hearing loss.

What Are Caption Phones and How Do They Work?

Caption phones are special telephones designed to help people with severe hearing loss communicate with others through phone conversations.

Typically, a captioned phone features large screens that display live phone conversations.

The phone service and assistive technology is provided free of charge to qualifying hearing-impaired individuals in the United States. The program is funded by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

These no-cost phones for people with hearing loss look and function like regular phones. The only difference is that they feature screens that display every word the person on the other end says throughout the conversation.

The captions are displayed in near real-time, allowing conversations to go smoothly. To use a caption phone, simply dial a number or answer a call as you normally would on a regular phone and then read the words that show up on the screen.

Think of these captions as subtitles in a movie. Although it can be hard to keep up with the subtitles in a movie, you have more control with a caption phone.

You can tell the person on the other end to talk slower; this way, you can read every word displayed on your telephone screen or mobile device.

Qualifying for a Free Caption Phone

Not all seniors with hearing loss problems automatically qualify for a free caption phone. Like other government assistance programs, you must meet certain eligibility criteria to qualify for this free service.

First, an elderly person with a hearing impairment must be certified as having disabling hearing loss by a hearing specialist. The third-party certification should confirm that the individual is eligible for free caption phone and service.

You may need to meet other eligibility requirements depending on the caption phone company you choose. Additionally, you should have the following ready before going through the application process:

  • A standard home phone connection.
  • High-speed internet connection (unless you prefer an analog device).
  • A standard electrical outlet for plugging the device.

How to Get Free Phones for Hard of Hearing Seniors

Similar to getting a free government phone, applying for a no-cost caption phone starts with finding an FCC-regulated company that provides the equipment and service. Here are a few popular ones:

  • CaptionCall
  • ClearCaptions
  • CapTel
  • T-Mobile CapTel
  • Hamilton CapTel

Some of these companies also offer mobile apps you can download on your smartphone. If you prefer using apps from other companies, consider providers like InnoCaption and Olelo Captioned Calls.

Once you find a company that provides no-cost caption phones for individuals with hearing impairment, complete the signup or registration process by filling out an online form.

Typically, the caption phone company will need your personal information, such as:

  • Full name
  • Date of birth
  • Physical address
  • Phone number
  • Social security number (usually, the last four digits)

The FCC mandates all caption phone companies to collect this information during registration.

Be sure to research and choose a phone model that meets your needs. Keep in mind that while the device and service are provided at no cost to you, the FCC reimburses these companies for their service, so you don’t have to settle for less when choosing your preferred caption phone.

Installing a Caption Phone

If your request for a free caption phone goes through, the device will be delivered and installed at no cost. Additionally, an expert from the caption phone company you choose will teach you how to use the device and help you complete the necessary paperwork.

Why Caption Phones Are Must-Haves for Hard of Hearing Seniors

Hard-of-hearing seniors might avoid using the phone because of the frustration involved in straining to hear what’s said and keeping up a meaningful conversation.

Unfortunately, not talking on the phone disconnects seniors from their social support system (family, friends, and peers), leading to loneliness, especially in seniors who live alone.

Research shows that social loneliness and isolation can increase the risk of depression, heart disease, high blood pressure, cognitive decline, and early death in older adults.

If you notice your elderly loved one unwilling to talk on the phone, they might struggle with a hearing impairment, making phone conversations frustrating and nearly impossible.

To avoid further emotional and mental issues, it is important to help older adults get and install free phones for hard of hearing seniors.

By getting a free caption phone, seniors will feel more connected to the world around them and, in turn, improve their sense of self-reliance and boost their self-confidence.

Since these devices are convenient and easy to use, aging adults can enjoy peace of mind knowing they can quickly call for help during emergencies.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are my phone conversations on a free caption phone private?

The FCC regulations require caption phone companies to keep user conversations confidential. Your conversations are secure and private; they are not recorded, and the communication companies do not store the captions. Only the user can decide whether or not to store captions.

Can I call 911 from a free caption phone?

You can call 911 from a free caption phone during an emergency. However, there may be a delay in captioning, or it may not work at all during 911 calls. In any case, the person on the other end will hear everything you say, but you may not be able to hear them.

Depending on the company and type of device you have, the person on the other end may be able to type instructions that show up on the screen of your device.

Will my monthly cell phone bill increase if I use a free caption phone?

Everything about the free phones for hard of hearing seniors is at no cost to the recipient. Your phone bills will not go up because you use the device to make or receive calls.

Can I use my current home telephone number?

Caption phone work with your existing home number and the mobile lines you already have. There is no need to get a new telephone number.