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Using your mobile or smartphone

There a things you can do to make your mobile or smartphone easier to use.

These include:

  • using them with your hearing aid if you have one, so that you can hear calls, music and sounds better
  • using the accessibility features available
  • using other helpful devices with your mobile or smartphone.

It’s important to listen to your mobile or smartphone at a safe volume. Find out more about protecting your hearing.


Using your smartphone or mobile with your hearing aids

Most smartphones and mobiles are compatible with hearing aids. This means they contain a small coil of wire called a hearing loop, or ‘Telecoil’. It creates a magnetic field that picks up sound and transfers it to your hearing aids on the hearing loop setting. This may make the caller’s voice clearer to hear. You need to make sure that you:

  • Activate your hearing loop setting on your hearing aid. Your audiologist may need to do this for you. Find out more about how to use your hearing aids here.
  • Activate the Telecoil setting on your phone. You can find out how to do this in your phone manual.
  • Place the mobile or smartphone close to your hearing aid to hear the caller.

Phones can be rated for how well they work with hearing aids, as some work better than others. You may get radio interference – heard as buzzing – when you hold your mobile or smartphone close to your hearing aid. This is caused by the electronics and display in the phone which generates the interference.

The M (microphone) rating is how well the mobile or smartphone works with your hearings on the normal setting. The T (Telecoil) rating is how well the phone works with your hearing aids on the hearing loop setting. The ratings are ranked from 1 (poor) to 4 (excellent). You can find out the hearing aid compatibility of your phone or others by looking at the GARI database.

You may have a mobile or smartphone with a good M and T ratings and still experience interference. You can reduce interference by:

  • making sure your hearing aid is fitted correctly
  • holding the phone one or two inches away from your hearing aid
  • using devices such as a neck loop or Bluetooth technology.

You might prefer to use your mobile or smartphone with hearing aids on the normal setting. Try what works best for you.


Devices that connect your hearing aids to your smartphone or mobile

Some devices can directly connect your phone to your hearing aids. These also use the hearing loop setting to help you hear sounds more clearly. You can normally plug them into the headphone jack on your phone. They include:

  • A neck loop, a cable that you wear around your neck.
  • Ear hooks, a small device attached to a cable that hooks over the ear next to the hearing aid.
  • Silent headphones, that look like normal headphones but also work to help you hear sounds on your phone.

Prices for these assistive devices range from £15 to £50 for more advanced types. You can find these at our new online shop, in partnership with Connevans, one of the leading suppliers of assistive technology.

Browse our new online shop here.

You may also be able to get help paying for technology.

MFi and Bluetooth technology

Some of the newer hearing aids also have ‘made for iPhone’ (MFi) technology. This means your hearing aids can connect directly to your smartphone and stream audio into them. MFi was developed by Apple but can also be used with Android phones, although it may not have as many features.

All smartphones also have Bluetooth. This allows your phone to connect to other products such as listening devices.


Useful smartphone and mobile features

Your mobile or smartphone may have accessibility settings already available. You can activate and change these so that they work better for you. You should be able to find these settings by:

  • visiting the accessibility menu on your phone’s general settings menu
  • clicking on the option for hearing, or hearing enhancement.

Accessibility features that most phones offer include:

Flash notifications

The phone camera flash or display will flash a light when you get notifications for a call, message or alarm.

Left and right sound balance

This will normally be a touch slider control which lets you increase or decrease the volume of sound in each ear when you are using headphones.

Mono

If you turn on this setting, the left and right headphones will play exactly the same audio. This can be useful if you have better hearing in one ear than the other as it sends the same sound to both headphones.

You can find other features that you might find useful in your phone’s settings menu. They can include:

Sound and vibration settings

You can set your phone to vibrate for phone calls and other notifications. You can also adjust the vibration pattern and intensity and adjust your ringtone and volume.

Treble and bass sound settings

Increasing the treble (higher pitch sounds) can make speech clearer, particularly ‘S’, ‘T’ and ‘F’ sounds.

Creating a personal sound profile

Some phones may offer the ability to tailor how you hear sound from your phone. This profile is then saved on your phone and applied when you make calls and listen to music and videos.


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