Phone for the hard of hearing
Doro recognises that the elderly form the majority of those with severe hearing difficulties. Hence, visual features and ease of use were high on the company's check list when designing its HearPlus 317c phone. In addition there was the need to avoid additional facilities which its target audience would find too complex to use. . It was equally important that the phone should not draw attention to the user's debility.
At first glance the 317c looks just like an ordinary desk phone, with the handset on the left hand side, but a bit larger and with large buttons. It is roughly 21cm square, cream in colour with light green trim black concave buttons with high contrast lettering. As well as the essential 12 buttons, there are four direct speed-dial memory keys labelled A to D and five function keys. As well as the normal Recall button there are two to enable the user to step through the last five outgoing numbers and (if the caller ID service is employed) the last five incoming numbers. The remaining two buttons, with headset symbols, are for connecting/disconnecting a call when a headset is used. One of them is also used as a Cancel function.
There is a separate headset volume control.
The handset, although light in weight, does not feel flimsy and sits comfortably in the hand.
The extra large high contrast 2 x 10cm display is switchable between black on white and white on black to suit the needs of those with poor sight. In normal use, the phone number is displayed in 1cm high digits with call duration in smaller digits on the lower line. Where the user subscribes to the service, caller ID will be displayed.
Full height digits are shown when dialling for added clarity and then, when the phone is idle, date and time are displayed in characters 1cm high.
While much of the above could probably apply to a number of phones, the features that are vital for the hard of hearing start with hearing aid compatibility and the, optional, bright flashing light that alerts one to an incoming call. The latter is in addition to the pre-set controls for ring volume, melody and tone on the underside of the phone.
Then, once the handset is lifted there is the volume control and the +15dB volume boost button - specifically for the hard of hearing. A slider control works in conjunction with the latter so that the user can adjust the tone for best clarity.
There is a warning in the handbook saying that the powerful amplification should only be used by people with impaired hearing ability.
Overall, the 317c provides a range of facilities for those with a severe hearing impairment in an easy to use attractive looking package. This is very important as the elderly (and in all seriousness, the rest of us) are reluctant to admit to any debility. All too often the excuse "I don't like using the phone" is a subterfuge to avoid admitting that they cannot hear properly.
While its RRP of £79.99 including VAT would be a premium price for an ordinary phone, it is not an ordinary phone but one that is tailored to meet a special need.
More details of this phone are available from the Doro website on the following address :
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