Another Thing I Can't Hear on the Telephone

by Tina Blue
May 17, 2004

          In addition to my regular telephone, I also have a cordless phone that I keep in the bedroom.  I prefer to use the cordless, not only because I can move around the apartment with it, but also because for some reason my regular phone goes dead from time to time when I am using it. Bad connection in a wire somewhere, I think.

          But I have a problem with the cordless phone that I don't have with the regular phone: with the cordless phone I can't tell what number I have dialed, or if even I have dialed at all.

          The regular phone has a display, so I can see the numbers as I dial them, and thus I can immediately tell if I have not touched the button firmly enough to make the number register--or if I have dialed the wrong number. Besides, the regular phone doesn't require all that much firmness to get the numbers to enter.

          But the buttons on my cordless phone are a bit recalcitrant. They require a firm touch to register at all, and the only way to be sure that they register is to hear them beep.

          Unfortunately, a high-pitched beep is completely outside my range of hearing in my left ear, and nearly so in my right ear. I can only hear such a sound if it is up very close to my right ear.  If I try to dial a number without holding the phone up to my right ear, I can't be sure all the numbers I have pressed have registered. And since some of the cell phone numbers I call (like my son's, my daughter's, and my best friend's) don't usually ring for several seconds after I have dialed them, I often stand there with the phone to my ear for some time before I realize that nothing is going to happen because I didn't get the whole number dialed, even though I actually did touch each of the appropriate numbers.

          But since I can hear the numbers beep if I have the phone up close to my right ear, I usually dial that way. Unfortunately, of course, there is no way to punch a number while the phone is at my ear. So I have tried to compromise, with the phone close to my ear, but angled just so, trying to see the number I am punching  But that doesn't work very well, either, so I hold the phone close to my face and as soon as I touch a number, I move the phone quickly to the side so my right ear can catch the beep

It's awkward, but it works--usually.  The problem is that I am pretty farsighted, which means that I can't see any numbers that close to my face. So I have to dial by the position of the number, and sometimes I simply misjudge that position and end up dialing the wrong number.

          Now, if I had my hearing aids in while dialing the phone, I could hear that beep, even with the phone far enough away for me to see what numbers I am pressing. But then I would have to dig the aids out of my ears in a hurry, because I can't use my aids on the phone. Besides, I don't wear my aids at all around the house, and obviously I am only dialing my phone when I am around the house.

          It was while I was struggling with the "simple" task of dialing my telephone this afternoon and repeatedly failing at it that I thought about all the weird little obstacles a severe hearing impairment throws up in the course of one's day. For the most part we arrange our lives to work around our hearing impairment, so we don't even stop to think about such things. But I bet those who hear normally would be surprised at the number of "workarounds" we have to come up with to manage many of the common, everyday tasks they take for granted.
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