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Free phone service helps hard-of-hearing – Good to know

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By Kate Doherty
It’s not uncommon for us as RVers to be in a campground or RV park with poor cell reception. Many of us, too, have hearing aids. When I’m on the phone without wearing earphones, I have difficulty hearing some callers when the air conditioner or heater is blowing. Perhaps your hearing isn’t up to par anymore, either, and you can’t discern dialect differences, especially when background noise is amplified in our traveling homes. If you have trouble hearing someone on the phone, whatever the circumstance, CaptionCall might be just what you need.

What’s CaptionCall?

Meet CaptionCall, founded in 2011. Think of it as an “on-demand” note-taker that records the caller’s words as they are talking. And guess what? This audio captioning program, telephone set or mobile app and support are completely free. We can thank the Federal Communications Commission for approving a provider under the American Disabilities Act. It’s paid for by a Telecommunications Relay Services (TRS) fraction tax on all phone providers nationwide. This tax has helped hundreds of thousands of hearing-impaired individuals with this captioning service, just like television captioning does.

What about my privacy?

You’re probably wondering about privacy. What if your doctor’s office calls with confidential information? Or perhaps you’re talking to your hometown banker and don’t want anyone knowing your finances. Well, this program allows you to “turn on” or “turn off” this service with the push of a button. And, just like your cell phone or handset, you can “mute” the conversation at any time. You selectively choose whether to save the caller’s words. Saving the text comes in handy when you need to remember an appointment or date for future reference. But, again, you control this.

Like most of us, I am concerned about privacy issues and have a plain ol’ “it’s nobody’s business” attitude. That’s when I was reassured by Tyler Kropf, Regional Director of CaptionCall, who manages the western half of the United States, that you are completely in control of this scribing service.

Accordingly, the FCC and Health and Human Services recognize privacy and have jointly addressed this issue. They have deemed communications assistants involved in captioning services as a conduit to the parties and fall under the Telecommunications Relay Services (TRS). Therefore it does not violate HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act).

How I learned about CaptionCall

I first learned of this service when I met Jordan Woffinden, the Arizona Regional Manager of CaptionCall at an informal social where he was guest speaking to RV park guests about this program. It wasn’t until I heard Jordan answer specific questions for guests interested in this service that I fully grasped this “no brainer” program.

To satisfy my curiosity, I followed up with a conference call with both Tyler and Jordan, who reaffirmed this free service is available in all fifty states. Until voice recognition or ASR (automatic speech recognition) technology advances to completely capture the nuances in vocalized speech between age and gender, speed and tones, contractions and dialect, etc., captioning services will revoice to transcribe the caller’s words.

According to hear-it.org, more than 35 million people suffer from hearing loss. Can CaptionCall help you or someone you know? You can read more or sign up for CaptionCall here.

Note: CaptionCall is available in the United States only.

##RVT987

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Debby
6 months ago

I have worked for Caption Call in the past as a captioner, what a terrific company! What people don’t realize is that captioners don’t type what they hear. Why not? Because people generally speak between about 220-260 WPM and nobody can type that fast. Instead, we use Dragon software which is speech to text. New employees spend several days “training their dragon” and learning how to speak simultaneously with the caller, with Dragon recognizing your words and transcribing it into text. It is not easy and you have to really concentrate. Every once in a while Dragon doesn’t understand, and the captioner can go in and manually correct (type) what was said, but sometimes the mistakes are hilarious! A few of my hearing impaired friends subscribe to the service and they thought it was so awesome that I worked for Caption Call. Thanks for this awesome article.

Bob p
6 months ago

I recently up graded my 6 year old phone, I use hearing aids, my audiologist told me when I got the hearing aids they would connect via Bluetooth with my phone. The old phone wouldn’t, the new phone does. That’s the greatest since canned dog food, my phone even tells me if it’s a potential spam. With the Bluetooth connection I don’t even need to take the phone out of the holster, it plays through the hearing aids, when I’m talking on the phone people think I’m talking to myself to get intelligent answers as I’m the only one who’s hearing the other person. I couldn’t understand many people who called me before and would hand the phone to DW to talk, now it’s like someone is talking inside my ear. So if you’re having this trouble you might check with your audiologist to see if your aids are compatible with your phone.

Ray
1 year ago

I thought I would give the phone app a try. In registering thru the phone they require a date of birth that can only be provided using a pop up calendar wherein you must press the calendar once for each month you have lived until reaching your birth month. No short cuts. That’s a little over 820 presses for me. Their tech support confirmed this flaw but offered one can register using their computer. I chose to decline as this “flaw” is so incredibly obvious, it must be by design.

Debby Bradford
1 year ago

I spent two winters working part-time for CaptionCall when I couldn’t find workamping positions; it’s a fairly well-paid position and I was more than able to cover the camping fees in a nearby RV park. It’s a great company to work for and their paid training is really great. They offer a great variety of flexible schedules. It appeared as though they offered good promotional opportunities for full-timers. Full confidentiality of all calls is required and some were definitely shocking! It was sad to have to fully caption scam calls though. A huge percentage of calls to senior citizens are Medicare scams. Luckily the vast majority of customers hang up on such calls.

Debby
6 months ago
Reply to  Debby Bradford

I forgot that I wrote this a year ago when I read the article and I just commented again!

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