Three Cheers for Captioned Voicemail

Meandering Through A Hearing World

Three Cheers for Captioned Voicemail

I have a busy life. I volunteer as a board member for several organizations, and I do quite of bit of creative writing. My days pass quickly, leaving me wishing, hoping, and praying for more time. Over time, I’ve adopted time-management tools, one of which is letting phone calls go to voicemail. Scheduling time to make phone calls keeps me on track with my daily workload.

Before I switched to made-for-iPhone hearing aids, my profound hearing loss left me with problem voicemails. I was spending far too long trying to make sense of messages. Most women’s voices were hard to hear, and a lot of folks spoke lightning-streak fast, leaving me to sift through their unintelligible words.

Thankfully voicemail captioning saved my day. People suffering from hearing loss have many telephone and voicemail options. Some rely on Caption Call phones. These phones caption all telephone calls in real time. A screen associated with the phone allows one to read what the caller is saying. It works much like the captions available on one’s television. The phones are also equipped with a captioned voicemail option that allows you to read your voice messages. The Caption Call website contains a lot of information about their phones, their features, and their uses.

Captel provides similar services. The advantage with Captel is that many states have programs which provide free or reduced-cost Captel phones to those with hearing loss. Some states require people with hearing loss to apply for phones, while others hand them out at walk-in centers. The Captel website lists state programs and their particulars. Florida residents with hearing loss have access to free Captel phones at various centers around the state.

What happens if you have an iPhone or smartphone? Verizon and AT&T offer a captioning service for both types of phones. Verizon has a free service and one that is a little better for $2.99 a month. AT&T offers a free service to those using a smartphone. To see if your phone meets captioned voicemail eligibility, go to your phone carrier’s website. I have an iPhone and started with Verizon’s free service, but found their paid service produced more accurate captions, so I switched.

Some types of android phones have the capability for voicemail captions built into the phones. It’s wise to check with your phone’s manufacturer to see what options are available on your phone. Google Suite account holders have the option to access free captioned voicemails. HulloMail is another service for android or iPhone users. HulloMail charges $60.00 per year and offers captioned voicemails plus unlimited cloud storage space for your messages. The other services mentioned above do not have unlimited storage space to save voicemail. However this can be added for a separate charge with various other phone services providers.

It’s best to assess your needs before committing to a paid captioned voicemail service. If you use a landline and have captioned voicemail included, by all means train your callers to use your landline. However, if you only have an iPhone or smartphone and receive many voice messages then a paid captioned service might be right for you.

It’s wonderful to have so many technological-based hearing solutions. These tools make our meanderings through the hearing world a bit more pleasant.

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Linda Bilodeau

I’ve grappled with hearing loss since 1978. Through it all, I’ve faced periods of denial, acceptance, curiosity, trust and hope. But more often than not, I’ve felt annoyed, angry and frightened. I’ve encountered despair, loneliness and envy. I’ve experienced panic attacks. I’ve met understanding people, kind souls who helped me a great deal and others who thought I had nothing short of an invisible plague. As a way of coming to terms with my hearing loss, I’ve decided to put my feelings about my disability down on paper. My hope is to better understand myself and perhaps you’ll find a little something in my meanderings that will help you, too.

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