Text phones and hearing loops

Text phones

A telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) is an electronic device for text communication via a telephone line, used when one or more of the parties has hearing or speech difficulties. The typical TDD is a device about the size of a small laptop computer with a QWERTY keyboard and small screen that uses LEDs or an LCD screen to display typed text electronically. There are also corded phones, or home phones, that offer text messaging. Some of them may also contain other features that can be profitable by the hearing impaired or completely deaf.

Send and Receive SMS text messages

If ever you have trouble hearing someone during a telephone conversation you can switch to SMS messaging. This will allow you to send instant messages via the phone line by typing small lines of text. There is also Textphone which allows you to have a complete discussion via your phone line through text.

Two-Way Record

If ever you have missed out on some parts of your conversation some answering machines are able to record the entire conversation. You can then go back to it anytime as to make sure you did not miss out on some important details during the conversation.

Amplify button

This is used to increase the volume of the conversation by a considerable amount, making it a lot easier to make out what the other person is saying. There are also some phones that allow you to increase the volume of your speech so that the person you are talking to can hear you better.

Call Indicator light

The call indicator light will brightly flash when there is an incoming call. If for some reason the ringer is off or you cannot hear it due to being deaf or hearing impaired, this can greatly help. In most cases the indicator light will flash very fast making it easy to perceive.


Having headsets installed on a phone system will direct the sounds straight to your ear therefore making it all that much clearer. It will also cut out other noises there may be in the background enabling you to properly concentrate on what it is the other person is saying.

Hearing Aid friendly

Hearing aid friendly means that the phone includes an Inductive coupler. Inductive couplers are built into to most BT phones to help people using Analogue hearing aids to hear better on the phone by reducing or cutting out background noise. It is usually a good idea to ask the person who supplies your hearing aid for advice on this. Most hearing aids with a 'T' setting will work with an inductive coupler.

Private Playback

Private Playback will allow you to listen to your messages via the phones handset, this may be easier then listening through the machines loudspeaker.

Hearing Loops

The loop system or telecoil is a special kind of microphone system designed for hearing aid users. It is commonly found in public buildings but is available for conferences and meetings arranged by the University.

To pick up sound from the loop system, the hearing aid wearer has to switch their hearing aid to a specific setting. If the hearing aid has a T (pure telecoil) setting, the listener will pick up only the loop system. If the hearing aid has an MT (half microphone and half telecoil) setting, the listener will pick up a combination of the loop system and the normal microphone setting.

Signs often tell the listener to switch to the 'T' setting – this refers back to the days of analogue hearing aids and some earlier digital hearing aids which had a specific loop system switch labelled 'T'.  Many more recent digital hearing aids have a button with multiple settings which is pressed a set number of times to access the loop or 'T' setting.

Remember to switch back to 'normal listening' setting after finishing using the loop system or you may not be able to hear clearly.

Need help?

For advice on Text phones and Hearing loops contact the IT Service Desk.