Talking on the Telephone

For many cochlear implant recipients, learning to use the telephone can be challenging and frustrating, rewarding or disappointing. With a bit of knowledge of cochlear implant technology coupled with practice, most recipients can develop the skills to use a voice telephone.

Several resources are available to help you practice and gain confidence using the telephone:

  • Chapter 9 of Adult Aural Rehabilitation - A Guide for Professionals includes a set of exercises designed to develop predictive skills that will help a recipient in many situations, including using the telephone.
  • Guidance on developing telephone skills is available within the telephone training section of the DVD, Start Listening for Adults: A Guide to Hearing Rehabilitation. This video is free from Cochlear Americas by calling our Customer Service at 1 (800) 483-3123.
  • Linn Tearney’s HOPE online seminar, Talk to Me! Telephone Tips for Cochlear Implant Users, reviews a number of the key issues including compatible a cell phone and understanding the compatibility rating scheme, knowing how to adjust the sound processor for telephone use, using accessories and practice ideas.
  • The Cochlear Americas Support Center includes information about accessories that can be used to couple the sound processor to a wireless telephone including Bluetooth and neckloops.
  • Telephone with Confidence is a free rehabilitation practice tool offered by Cochlear Americas. The tool is helpful both as a listening practice tool and also as an aid for someone learning to use a particular telephone (i.e., testing compatibility of different phones, how to set volume, where to hold the handset for best use either acoustically or with the telecoil).

    The tool has two parts:

    1. Listening: 1 (800) 458-4999
    2. Reading: The word lists and narrative change every day and can be accessed multiple times in a single day. As you gain more skills and confidence, you should be able to effectively listen without the visual component.

How do I choose a phone?

Cochlear implant users should know that guidance for hearing aid users is also applicable to them. CTIA―The Wireless Association―has many excellent resources on selecting a cell phone on its website.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) defines hearing aid compatibility for wireless devices. Cell phones must be tested to see if they comply with the FCC’s definitions.

Cell phones rated M3 or M4 (M stands for microphone) meet FCC requirements and are likely to generate less interference for someone using a cochlear implant. M4 is the better of the two ratings.

Cell phones rated T3 or T4 (T stands for telecoil) meet FCC requirements and are likely to be usable with the telecoil in the cochlear implant sound processor. T4 is the better of the two ratings.

Cell phones rated both M4 and T4 provide the best compatibility with hearing technology. The Cochlear™ Nucleus® 5 (CP810) Sound Processor has a built-in telecoil. Always try a wireless phone with your cochlear implant before making a purchase.

Information on accessible telephones, including lists of telephones and their M and T ratings, is available on the Hearing Loss Association of America’s website.

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