Com­pany looks to make calls clearer for hear­ing im­paired res­i­dents

The Enquire-Gazette - - Front Page - By TIFFANY WAT­SON twat­son@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @Tif­fIndyNews

A com­pany that spe­cial­izes in clearer phone com­mu­ni­ca­tion for those who have prob­lems with their hear­ing is bring­ing its free phone prod­uct from the West Coast to the Charles County re­gion.

On July 6, Ru­pali De­wan, ClearCap­tions ter­ri­tory man­ager, in­tro­duced a free prod­uct to In­dian Head res­i­dents and In­dian Head Town Coun­cil that will help lo­cal cit­i­zens who can­not hear very well, to im­prove their com­mu­ni­ca­tion with their fam­ily and loved ones.

In her pre­sen­ta­tion, De­wan ex­plained that ClearCap­tions pro­vides text of phone con­ver­sa­tions for peo­ple with hear­ing loss and is cer­ti­fied as a cap­tion tele­phone provider by the Fed­eral Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Com­mis­sion (FCC). ClearCap­tions of­fers in­no­va­tive com­mu­ni­ca­tion ser­vices on a va­ri­ety of plat­forms, in­clud­ing per­sonal com­put­ers, mo­bile de­vices and home phones. The ClearCap­tions phones are pro­vided free with call Log dis­plays pre­vi­ous con­ver­sa­tions, speak­er­phone of­fers hands-free calls, and dig­i­tal am­pli­fi­ca­tion boosts a cus­tomer’s voice up to 50 deci­bels.

“I am reach­ing out to all com­mu­ni­ties and ag­ing di­vi­sions in Charles County and Prince Ge­orge’s County ar­eas be­cause I want to ed­u­cate and let se­niors know there is an­other op­tion for com­mu­ni­ca­tion and there is tech­nol­ogy avail­able to them so they would not be cut off from their loved ones and fam­ily mem­bers,” De­wan said. “I have seen it hap­pen­ing with peo­ple who say their grand­kids can­not hear them be­cause their phones are not clear. This means a lot for those peo­ple es­pe­cially.”

“I con­tacted ClearCap­tions to make sure it wasn’t a scam and it is very help­ful for the hear­ing im­paired lo­cal resi- dents,” said Coun­cil­man Cur­tis Smith. “The town coun­cil said we would do new in­no­va­tive things while in of­fice and I ac­tively seek in­no­va­tive ideas es­pe­cially that are free to the res­i­dents. It is im­por­tant that the town pro­vides ser­vices that will bet­ter the lives of our res­i­dents and I think the ad­di­tional in­for­ma­tion from ClearCap­tions was well re­ceived, so we plan to in­form more res­i­dents about it.”

De­wan said ClearCap­tions cus­tomers have two op­tions when us­ing the En­sem­ble phone. They can ei­ther pick up the hand­held part of the phone or they can turn on the speaker. Cus­tomers can also re­ceive their voice­mails as a text mas­sage on the screen. She said one of the best parts about this phone is that in­stal­la­tion only takes 15-20 min­utes.

“The phone works with a cus­tomer choos­ing a high pitch or low pitch level for their phone call, and the pitch is mea­sured in deci­bels,” De­wan said. “Its clar­ity is so good that it helps peo­ple who are hard of hear­ing, at any age.”

Af­ter re­ceiv­ing your phone, cus­tomers are asked to sign an au­tho­riza­tion form so that they can get their hear­ing tested af­ter­wards as re­quested by ClearCap­tions. A doc­tor will need to di­ag­nose the cus­tomer’s hear­ing im­pair­ment and ClearCap­tions can be used as a re­fer­ral for those who can­not af­ford a visit to the doc­tor.”

The ClearCap­tions phone is a cap­tioned phone that dis­plays the text of con­ver­sa­tions in sec­onds on a large color touch­screen while also am­pli­fy­ing a cus­tomer’s voice. Cus­tomers will see and hear what call­ers are say­ing and the phone will help en­sure that they get the whole con­ver­sa­tion, De­wan said.

De­wan said that res­i­dents who do not have hear­ing loss but still would like to have the phone, can go on­line to pur­chase it through ClearCap­tions for $75, com­pared to the ac­tual mar­ket price of $500.

Ac­cord­ing to ClearCap­tions, in 1990 ca­ble com­pa­nies had to con­trib­ute a cer­tain amount of money to­ward this phone prod­uct, by law. Since 2014, ClearCap­tions has been help­ing peo­ple of all ages, es­pe­cially se­nior cit­i­zens, to com­mu­ni­cate with their loved ones.

“Just be­cause peo­ple have dif­fi­culty hear­ing, does not mean they don’t de­serve to stay con­nected to their fam­ily and loved ones,” De­wan said.

“It’s good to know that the ClearCap­tions pro­gram is out there,” said Mayor Bran­don Paulin. “Peo­ple with hear­ing loss can use the phone for free just like many of the pro­grams made avail­able by the fed­eral gov­ern­ment. I’d like to see on the town web­site so that more peo­ple will uti­lize this tech­nol­ogy.”

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