Communication aids: Is there a telephone that accomodates my parents' multiple health conditions?

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Is there a telephone that accomodates my parents' multiple health conditions?

Question

My father has vascular dementia, mobility varies from using a cane/walker and poor vision due to cataracts. My mother is very hard of hearing (and won't wear her hearing aids) and does not hear the phone. I am looking for a way to alert her to a smoke alarm, doorbell, telephone. I am looking at the captioned phones for her with a light or other notification method. Would like a landline and cordless set that also has one with photos for when my dad is confused. It would be nice to have one system for them for their needs. I also need a way for my dad to be able to notify my mom when he needs help if she's upstairs or outside. Unfortunately my mom is very inexperienced with technology and my Dad has become confused with poor short-term memory, so cell phones are out of the question.

Our answer

Unfortunately, the options for captioned telephone service in Canada are limited to teletypewriter (TTY) equipment. For more information on TTY in BC you can contact the Wavefront Centre for Communication Accessibility, the head office can be contacted by phone at 604-736-7391.  

There are a few phones that include several accessibility features including photos for speed dialing, a visual ringer, and amplified sound.

  • Amplified Big Button Quick Dial Picture Phone by ATS is an amplified corded landline phone that features nine speed dial photo buttons, a visual flasher, and the option to amplify incoming sound up to 10 times. This product costs about $50 (U.S) plus a shipping fee.
  • SN5147 Amplified Corded/Cordless Senior Phone System by Vtech (available from amazon.ca) has dedicated buttons for photo dialing and a visual indicator for ringing. The amplification features include a ringer at 90 dB and an additional boost during phone calls that increases the volume by up to 50 dB. The system that includes one corded phone and one cordless phone costs about $130 (Cdn). Just the cordless phone is $90 (Cdn).

For your father to be able to signal your mother within the home and outside there are a few pager products that work within a local range – generally between 100 feet and 200 feet. Typically, a product like this would have a simple button for your father to press if he needed help and a pager for your mother to receive that notification. The products listed below have a pager that uses vibration, ideal for users with hearing impairments.

  • Wireless Personal Caregiver Pager by EverNary (available from amazon.ca) is three piece pager system with a 260 foot range. The system comes with two water proof call buttons that can be kept in a pocket or worn around the neck. The receiver features a belt clip and signals using a vibration and an adjustable volume of up to 110 dB. This product costs about $45 (Cdn).
  • Wireless Vibrating Chime Personal Pager by ATS is a two piece pager system with a 100 foot range. The transmitter is button can be worn around the neck or carried in a pocket. When the button is pressed and alert, either a chime or a vibration, is sent to the pager.  This product costs about $63 (U.S.) plus a shipping fee.

You might also be interested in reading one of our other articles on accessible phones:

Are there phones that are designed for users with hearing and vision impairments?

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