Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Caption Call Phone Review...did you know you can get one for free?

For those of you that have seen this offer or this website, and had your doubts...

Yes, it's legit! If you have issues with your hearing, then you qualify.  No, it will not cost you a penny.  Yes, I took the offer, ordered the phone, had it installed, and have been using it for a few months.  Would I recommend it to a friend?  Yes, mostly, except to one group of people...who still might benefit if they used it as a back up or emergency phone.  I recommend this phone to anyone who wears hearing aids and/or is hard of hearing with at least some speech discrimination left, but not to the completely Deaf who already use TTY.  

Here's my experience:

I subscribe to the emails from Deaf Network and one of the posts came with an advertisement from Harris Communications offering the Caption Call Phone for free to the hard of hearing and Deaf. I had seen this add a few times and pondered on the idea of having a captioned phone.  I Googled it, read some reviews, and finally, I clicked on it.

I ordered the phone and was emailed by an installer within a couple of days. She scheduled an appointment with me at my home to install the phone.  She came out with all of the equipment needed to get me set up and was very knowledgeable about what she was doing.  She was also friendly and pleasant.

Somehow our conversation got to be about my hearing loss and she suddenly revealed her two cochlear implants.  I never would have know that she had a hearing impairment if she had not confessed.  She functioned better than any hearing person I had done business with recently.  I have to admit that I was blown away by her!  but this is a review of the phone and not Brenda so I will tell you more about the phone.

No matter what problem we ran into with my wireless Aggie engineered internet connection, Brenda had the tools and knowledge to get my phone installed.  She got my phone set up and working within a couple of hours.  I've had the phone about 5 months (at the time of this post in September 2012) and I'd love to share a little about it.

*My installer, Brenda, was amazing! She had routers, and boxes with blinky lights, cords, and thingamajigs that I don't fully understand, available for whatever she needed to make my phone work, in other words-she was locked and loaded. This company does not skimp on delivering it's goods; they will make that internet connection work even if you don't understand it!
*This phone has amazing volume control; it can be turned up to I'm not even sure how many decibels but it does give you a warning when the sound level is dangerous, after which I still hit the turn it up button at least 3 times.  I turn it way up and can hear most conversations with the help of the captions.  I have never had a phone that could turn up this loud!
*You can also program the sound, making the phone enhance whichever frequencies you choose!  But I'm not exactly sure how to work this function so I'lll bring that up in the Cons section.
*It has caller Id.

*It has a call log.
*The address book holds plenty of contacts with detailed info but you will need to add all of the info manually, no current programs exist to import that data for you.
*Did I mention the volume control?
*I've had one software upgrade in 3 months. Upgrades to the software have been simple and easy to do.  I was notified by both the company and my installer and was offered help via both if I needed it.
*equipment to get my phone up and going was offered to me at no charge, including modems.
*oh and it's free..........yes..............it's free!  well mostly, how is this service funded you wonder?  FCC, and you've been paying for it for years through a little charge on your phone bill
*you can connect your FM device to get you call streamed directly into your hearing aid or cochlear implant depending on the type of hearing device you have
*...volume control, volume control!

*Captions are not always reliable and often completely undecipherable, so I do not think this phone would be much of a solution for someone who is completely deaf
*access to captions is not always available, the network goes down occasionally
*contact info cannot be imported but has to be entered manually.
*audiogram programming function is limited in options and frequencies, can we get a few more dots on the graph here?
*phone is not cordless, nor is unit portable...why isn't there an app for this, shouldn't this be easy to do on a smart phone, why isn't it portable?  Do I really need to waste this much counter space?  Really, I'm limited to the feet of the headset cord?  I can't roam around my house on the phone?
*A third party can hear part of your conversation as they create the captions, which can be awkward when your brother calls to ask you where to hide the body.    ....relax, I'm joking, he knows where to stash the body!

Overall, I'm very pleased with my Caption Call phone and as long as it's being offered for free, I don't see why anyone with a hearing loss shouldn't try it.  It's funded by the government, and if you've ever had a phone at all, you've paid a little fee each month to provide access to this technology for the deaf and hard of hearing.