More Phone Issues

My new business, the mobile salon, is starting to get calls. I have to be hooked up to receive calls either to my uDirect (bluetooth device that pairs with my phone and shoots it to my hearing aids) or with a pair of headphones that have a mic. I don’t wear my bluetooth device all day because it drains the batteries in my hearing aids and on my phone super fast. I also don’t wear the headphones all day because either my hearing aids are in or I’m looking for a little peace and quiet while I work around the house. I’m looking into borrowing a loop for the phone with a mic attached from our Deaf and hard of hearing center but someone else has it on loan right now and I have to wait my turn. (They loan out devices so we can try it before buying elsewhere, nice!)

phone ringing

In the meantime my phone rings and all I can do is stare at it because I know if I make a dash for my devices, I’ll miss the call by the time things are all hooked up. When they leave a voicemail, I hook up and listen. Then I play it again, squeezing my eyes shut and focusing my entire will on the faceless voice because I’m missing critical pieces to the message such as a  name.  I cannot understand any better. I get pieces of the messages but not enough to call the person right back so I have no choice but to wait for my boyfriend to get home from work so he can listen to it for me. He’s been my support and secretary on this new venture and although that is wonderful, I don’t want to wear him out or be totally dependent on him because he may not always be available. I need to find another way to cope.

My phone call troubles don’t end with voicemail. I also have problems when I call people back all hooked up missing key points of information. During one phone call I could not get the name of the complex where I was to meet her. She repeated it 3 times and that’s the magic number where I quit asking but I did get the address right which I repeated back to her make sure. As soon as the phone call was concluded, I ran for my computer and not in a million years would I have gotten the name right without the internet; Oquirrh, pronounced ‘oaker.’ So far I’ve been lucky to fill in all the missing pieces via the internet but that won’t always hold out.

After that go around, I knew I needed captions with phone calls again. Probably the captionist wouldn’t have gotten it right either but she may have typed ‘oaker’ putting me closer to the idea. I have a CaptionCall phone but we don’t have a land line so it stays safely tucked away in a closet completely unavailable. I want my CaptionCall phone more than ever but I can’t set up a land line until I start getting some dependable income and being a totally new business, I’m not there yet. Maybe come September after my part time job working with the state kicks in (teaching hearing loss classes) I can get a land line and get this phone working…but in the meantime, how can I get by?

When I first got my iPhone a year and a half ago, I put an AT&T captel application on it but I didn’t use my phone much for calls so I completely forgot about it. When it dawned on me I had that option I eagerly pulled the app up and found out it didn’t work and remembering the “Oh so sorry” email from AT&T. Next I download the Hamilton app and they want a doctor’s note to prove I have hearing loss before I can use the service. I haven’t had a personal doctor in years. So I go to Sprint, first their captel app and then their IP Relay. They want proof I exist and will research me and let me know when I can use their service.  Drat!!!

Now I’m truly frustrated sitting here with a caption phone and two smart phone apps I can’t use. Vaguely I remembered the FCC shake up a few months back that I didn’t pay attention to and now I wish I had. I want captions now so I can function on the phone but it wasn’t looking good. I wonder how the system got abused for the FCC to make things more difficult. Or were they flooded and overwhelmed with all the hard of hearing people wanting captions? Or maybe the government is looking to cut their budget and this is their answer?

I didn’t give up. My next option was to contact my hard of hearing email communities. Someone suggested ClearCaptions and low and behold! I can sign up and get service right now by clicking an agreement saying I am hard of hearing. Now I can place calls via their website or through their app on my cellphone and that will help me tremendously. Thank goodness…but my original problem remains, how the heck can I pull voicemails off my phone?

My boyfriend decides there’s got to be a way to forward my phone messages to him but iPhone doesn’t offer anything of the sort. He does a web search and comes up with YouMail which offers their basic service for free (with ads). It’s an app for the phone and I can also access it through the web. It lets me forward messages to anyone I want plus has other cool features like personalized greetings for the different people in my contact list. All my friends now have their own greeting from me when they call and leave a message and my default message for everyone else has a greeting for Hair To You.

While looking around on YouMail’s website, I see they have a voicemail transcription service or Read It plans. Cool, this is way better than forwarding a voicemail to my boyfriend but as I read about it, their plan is a little goofy. For $5 a month, they will transcribe up to 20 messages for 20 seconds each message. For $10 a month, they will transcribe 40 messages up to  40 seconds each. They have an unlimited plan for $30 a month and 60 seconds of transcription. Eh, no thanks.

Someone in my email group suggested PhoneTag. PhoneTag is not free either but they will do 40 messages (nothing about how long) for $10 a month and $30 a month for unlimited messages. That sounds better to me but I still have to wait for dependable income. Maybe then, I can buy into the service and call it my secretary.

What an adventure, all that research sucked up almost a whole day.  I can get by for now and I feel better with these systems in place.   I don’t remember having this hard of time on the phone 6 months ago while living in Arizona so maybe my hearing has dropped again. Then again, my voicemail greeting back then stated I was hard of hearing and to speak a little slower so I’m sure to understand. I didn’t mind using that in my message down there in a small town but here in Salt Lake it feels unprofessional so I’m battling my shame demon again which is ridiculous! I should be over this by now.  I am in person so why not the phone? As soon as I meet people/clients the first time I tell them I’ve lost 70% of my hearing and the reason I went mobile was because salon noise makes me deaf. I give the whole story in person after meeting someone but I feel like I will be judged inadequate by voice alone???

There’s always more to overcome with hearing loss and I’m never truly done.

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8 responses to “More Phone Issues

  1. I have CaptionCall and don’t care much for it. I use it primarily to communicate with my elderly father and his wife. The captioner sometimes understands less than I do. They type many wrong words and skip over whole sentences. I know he’s difficult to understand at times but because I’m accustomed to his voice I can actually figure out what he’s saying better than they seem to ever do!

    My husband set up the phone with Ooma, I think. It is supposed to transcribe any voicemail into text and I get it on my phone or in an email. It too is full of so many wrong words and missing information that I have to then call my husband and have him listen to the actual voice mail in hopes of learning the real message.

    Because of these experiences I have stopped using the phone like everyone else. I board people’s dogs. My card has my email address. I get their phone numbers but they understand they have to text me. I can keep in touch easily and am sure I’m not missing any of their words. In fact, one client pointed out he could just go back through our conversation to see exactly what we agreed to. I don’t have to worry that I got something they said wrong . I can even send them photos of their pets while they are away.

    • All caption services I’ve used miss the mark somewhere but if I have both captions and what little hearing I have left, I can usually put it together. Some captionists are better than other and done are downright bad. When I used captioned calls a while back, if I got a bad relay operator, I hung up and tried again. I don’t expect it to be perfect but I hope it helps me out some.
      Email or texting are my preferred communication modes too but unfortunately, I cater to the older clientele and most of them don’t do either. I can encourage the ones who have it to use it.

  2. Ah, of course. The elderly are a different story. At least they are also more empathetic when you can’t hear them.

    • Yes, they are more understanding of hearing loss in person for the most part. Either they have a little them self or their spouse has it so that part is easier.

  3. Some time ago there was a lot of abuse to ip relay services where people/companies used them to bypass some laws for marketing calls, if I remember right.

    I will say that google has a phone system that can transcribe voicemails. It’s not perfect, but it’s not bad. It’s pretty cheap last I used it, but that was a while ago.

  4. That is a lot of researching on voice-to-text stuff. It sounds like a bit of a conundrum when you are trying to meet the needs of your clients and run your biz efficiently. Kudos in figuring out what works best for you.

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