Phone call #10,11,12

11 09 2010


I really wanted more practice on my phone after my dip last week. I treated myself to an iPhone (do I NEED any more incentive? lol) and I had a hard time figuring out how to use the answerphone. I’ve never used one in my life! So I asked my stenographer Karen to listen to the answermachine instructions on the iPhone so I would know how to play, save, delete.  Then I proceeded to have fun … Yeah, this phone malarkey is a LOT of fun! – but you’ve got to keep it simple, or you’d be tearing your hair out in frustration.


Karen has an English accent, almost a BBC accent (she’s from Cambridge) so I thought this would be a good one for me to listen to on the phone. I grew up hearing the sound of the BBC News on TV every evening so I am familiar with the sound of vowels in the Queens’ English. I told her to talk to me about anything, went into the kitchen, and rang her phone. She chatted about her day so far and I understood everything she said except for one sentence. After this phone call, SHE was the one in tears, not me. (Ahhhhh, bless!)

Tip: Think about accents and familiarity.


I then had a voicemail message from Stu. I understood all of it but got stuck on 2 words, which meant I didn’t understand 2 sentences. He sent an email after the voicemail message and from this, I had some clues to the subject of the voicemail. I listened to it again and got the full message this time. Whoop! I also discovered that I had been holding the phone incorrectly – it doesn’t need to be halfway up my head – LOL – it sounds louder when aligned with my jaw.

Tip: Try different positions for your phone handset.


Michele then phoned me. ‘Our topic was ‘meeting up’ – place, time, what we’ll do, and a phone number. I was on a roll, and instead of letting the voicemail pick up, I picked up the phone instead – I was a bit nervous as I had no idea what she would say (having clean forgotten our agreed topic!), and Michele has a South African accent which is tricky for me. After the call, Michele said ~

Whoooooo !! Hoooooo!!!!!!

You practically sailed through!! Just a small hesitation on the ‘steps’ (as I said on top of the steps – on where we will meet)

That was some conversation! Hoo boy!!

You got stuck with just two numbers and that was the 1 when I had said 9. (similar again) The other number I had said 5 and you said 9. (again similar) but dang!! – so good!

What was interesting was that you were able to swing the conversation around to your questions too,  for example you asked me whether we would meet up before or at the wine bar on Tuesday – that took me by surprise! I’m soo excited!


Tip: Take the initiative and ask questions on the phone. You’re setting the context and increasing your confidence.

I discovered an interesting thing today. I was talking to a colleague Patrice, telling her about the quality of the voices I am hearing on the phone and the difficulty I am having with understanding. Voices sound different – echoey, tinny, and very artificial. Patrice said that voices sound like that to hearing people too!


To a hearing person, phone voices sound like they are speaking on a radio. Voices are being transmitted over the telephone lines so they are not heard as they are in real life. The bandwidth is limited and so what a person hears is compressed, losing frequencies and therefore richness of speech tones. Isn’t that interesting!

Here are a few ways to practice listening on the phone;

Speaking Clock

In the UK, the number is 0871 789 3642. If dialling from abroad the number is +44 871 789 3642. The cost of calling this number from a BT line is 10p per minute, maximum cost 15p. When dialled the clock will speak for 90 seconds, you can hang up before this time, but the line will be engaged until the 90 seconds has elapsed. The speaking clock service is not available on the Orange or 3 Mobile mobile telephone networks, as they use 123 as the number for their Answerphone services.

You can find the worldwide numbers for speaking clocks after the jump.

Cochlear implant manfacturers’ websites

Advanced Bionics provide materials giving you the opportunity to practice before you talk with your family, friends … and scarier people.

Cochlear offer telephone training (U.S. only).

Call centres

Think about who’s going to leave you on hold for hours while a recorded message is played. There’s your mobile phone network’s customer services number. Your bank is a good challenge, when they put you through to an Indian call centre. A good one is sales calls; keep saying ‘Pardon?’ and let the salesperson repeat themselves ad infinitum, then tell them sorry you’re not interested in buying. Tip from Pidge: Dial 1471 (UK only) to retrieve the last number that called you. This is also known as Last Call Return in other countries.


Ask everyone in your contacts list to leave a voicemail message on your mobile phone, save these, and practice listening to them.  Later on, do the same again with a landline phone which is likely to be of poorer audio quality.

Assistive devices

Use CapTel or to caption your phone calls and support your listening. Try Skype and repeat after your caller, then ask them to type their sentence if you get it wrong; the video facility is also very helpful for facial expressions (and cheating by lip reading!).  Try FM receivers and bluetooth devices, or a direct audio input lead which connects your cochlear implant directly to your phone.

If you have one cochlear implant, you can try using your hearing aid in the other ear; get a neck loop, set cochlear implant and hearing aid to telecoil, and use both ears when talking on the phone. In the US, try TechEar or ClearSounds, and in the UK, try Connevans for neck loops. (Thanks to Sylvia, Paul, and Patty for this tip)

Are there any more ideas or tips out there? I’d love to hear them!




6 responses

11 09 2010
Catherine Mellor

I have developed a lifestyle around the absence of a phone, so I have not really pushed in this direction yet. All your suggestions sound marvelous especially the way to abuse salesmen! I was amused about the switching around to your questions, setting the context and so on. Made me think of one of my deaf jokes, “Be kind to the deaf, let them do the talking.” 🙂

11 09 2010

Me too 🙂 the phone is for geeks these day, they live from one gizmo and application to the next. It’s a race they will never win, by the time they buy these things they are obsolete anyway. I had a mobile which just about did text and I still couldn’t do numbers on it, so it has been used less than once a week and mostly serves to balance my table properly. I didn’t realise for months you had to keep topping up the battery in it lol…. I just don’t have a real use for one, next the TV ?

11 09 2010

Very informative and very useful one for my reference file. Thanks.

14 09 2010

It’s all about communication. Deaf have their means of communicating. With a CI though..the window widens thus allowing greater expression and freedom to share today’s technology.

Next week I will be joining the ever expanding elite of CI users.

Exciting times hopefully.

16 09 2010
yummiee cupcake

i want that phone, the bottom shelf, 2nd phone to the right!!

17 09 2010
Catherine Mellor


Welcome to the ever expanding elite of CI users! Which one are you getting?

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