Purple Communications, Inc., an FCC-certified provider of telephone relay services, recently launched ClearCaptions™, a new FCC-regulated phone captioning service for outbound calls aimed at the more than 31 million Americans who have hearing loss. ClearCaptions allows people with hearing loss to actually read what the person they’ve called is saying to them over the phone. It works on a phone and an Internet-connected computer, displaying live, near-real-time captions of telephone calls on Web browsers or through a dedicated application on the iPhone, iPad or iPod touch.
The introduction of this type of mobile phone captioning comes at a time when the aging population is increasingly willing to adopt new technologies. ClearCaptions just conducted a national survey that found that 43% of boomers say that using the telephone would be easier if they were able to read in real-time what the other party was saying.
“The need for ClearCaptions is significant, unmet, and growing,” said Dan Luis, CEO of Purple and its ClearCaptions line of business. “With the first baby boomers reaching age 65 this year, the population of older Americans is expected to rise sharply over the next 20 years. The number of Americans with age-related hearing loss – and who find using the phone increasingly frustrating – is growing just as rapidly. For this population, and for everyone with hearing loss, ClearCaptions makes it much easier to effectively use the phone.”
ClearCaptions is easy to set up and works on equipment most people already have: a telephone and an Internet-connected computer. Users don’t need special equipment, and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules allow ClearCaptions to offer this service to qualified users for free.
“In my 30 years as a practicing audiologist, frustration with the phone is easily the biggest complaint from my patients who are beginning to experience hearing loss,” said Dr. Deborah Price, AuD, Doctor of Audiology, founder of Hearing Professional Center and the Chair of the Audiology Foundation of America. “ClearCaptions will undoubtedly make an impact on the lives of anyone who struggles to use the phone due to hearing loss. It’s easy to be supportive of a free service that addresses such an important part of my patients’ communication.”
Start ClearCaptions Calls In Three Steps
Once signed in, qualified ClearCaptions users can make outbound captioned phone calls in just three steps:
- On the Web: At clearcaptions.com, the user types the number they’d like to dial, then their phone number and clicks “Call”. The call is automatically connected, while the captions for that call display in real time on the user’s computer screen.
- On the iPad or iPod Touch: After launching the app, the user types the number they want to call (or chooses it from the address book), their phone number and taps “Call”. The call is connected like a traditional phone call, while the iPod/iPad displays the captions.
- ??On the iPhone: From an iPhone, the user starts the call like they would on an iPad or iPod Touch, but enters their iPhone number instead. Whether through the iPhone’s speaker or through a hands-free device, the user can listen and speak on the call, while simultaneously watching live captions right on the iPhone screen.
With beta testing started in January, ClearCaptions began making an immediate difference for users as they discovered how easy it was to use and integrate the service into their daily lives.
“As someone with severe hearing loss in both ears, the telephone had become a brutal enemy in my life,” said Patty Stern, a real estate professional from New Jersey. “It had gotten harder to conduct business when I couldn’t effectively use the phone. ClearCaptions has made a profound impact on me both personally and in my work, allowing me to better understand and be more effective on all my calls. And, it is easy to use.”
“We’re excited to be at the forefront of a new industry and look forward to educating consumers about the availability of our service. ClearCaptions will provide anyone with hearing loss the freedom to display captions on whatever equipment they want to use, wherever they happen to be,” added Luis.
The company is already building new functionality into ClearCaptions for subsequent versions and is also developing the application for use on other platforms, to be available later this year.