Assistive Devices for the Telephone

What are telephone assistive devices?

Telephone assistive devices help you hear telephone conversations better. You may need one if you have problems with your hearing. It can help you not miss information when you use the phone.

What kinds of devices are available?

There are many different kinds of telephone assistive devices.

  • Controls on the telephone. Some telephones have volume and tone controls. Adjusting the volume can make the person who is speaking to you sound louder. Adjusting the tone may make the conversation clearer. Phones may have other helpful features. For example, they may have an extra loud ring. Or they may have a flashing light to help you know when the phone rings.
  • Telephone amplifiers. Small snap-on telephone amplifiers can be used with just about any phone. The amplifier is put over the earpiece of the phone. You may have to remove the amplifier when you hang up the phone. Some phones have extra amplification built in. Some also have jacks that can be used with a hands-free accessory, such as a headset.
  • Telephone coil in hearing aids. A telephone coil is a small coil of wire in some hearing aids. The wire is activated by a switch. It allows the hearing aid to pick up a phone signal directly. The coil also prevents feedback and cuts out background noise when you make a phone call. Telephones that are designed to work with a hearing-aid telephone coil are called hearing aid compatible.
  • Hands-free attachments for cell phones. Some cell phones can cause interference with hearing aids. You can get hearing-aid-compatible, hands-free attachments. The attachments allow the cell phone to be used at some distance away from the hearing aid. This can reduce or eliminate interference.
  • TTY. A TTY (or TDD) is a device that allows you to type your part of a phone conversation. Someone who also has a TTY can then read what you type and type a reply. If someone calls you who does not have a TTY device, they can speak to a special relay operator who types (or relays) the information to your TTY. Your typed response is then read back to the caller. This service is available throughout the US by dialing a special 1-800 telephone number or by dialing 711.

The cost of telephone assistive devices ranges from nothing (for built-in volume controls) to several hundred dollars for TTYs.

Where can I get more information?

For more information, contact:

  • National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD)
    1-800-241-1044 (voice); 1-800-241-1055 (TTY)
  • The National Association of the Deaf
    1-301-587-1788 (voice); 1-301-581-1789 (TTY)
Developed by RelayHealth.
Adult Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2013-08-08
Last reviewed: 2013-06-12
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.

Patient Portal

Our Patient Portal provides safe and secure online access to better communicate with your Tufts Medical Center Community Care doctor. This easy-to-use web tool is a convenient way to book appointments, request referrals, renew prescriptions, view medical records/test results and communicate with your healthcare provider from the privacy of your own computer.


Your privacy is important to us. Learn more about ourwebsite privacy policy. X