Keep Connected with Low Vision Phone Options

Keep Connected with Low Vision Phone Options

Posted under Living With Low Vision, Low Vision Info

This winter we visited my in-laws bringing with us several different low vision aids to help my father-in-law who has wet macular degeneration.  One of those aids was a large number, large button telephone.  As we discussed this option with him, it was determined that he could still use his existing phone and he didn’t want to learn how to use a new and different phone.   Several months later we found out that my mother-in-law dials the phone for him since he is now having more difficulty seeing and doing this himself.  My husband and I were quite alarmed by this as we tried to explain how dangerous the situation could be if my mother-in-law wasn’t home and he needed to make a call or if she needed emergency medical assistance and he couldn’t dial the phone.

There are many different solutions to this dilemma and I’ll share with you some of the options we will bring to them.

  1. A Large Button, Large Number Phone

Large 1” square buttons instead of tiny buttons make it easier to hit the right key and bold black numbers that measure ½” make it easy to select the right number.   You can find this type of low vision phone corded or cordless.  The corded phones have larger buttons than the cordless ones.   However the cordless large number phones are often backlit for better visibility and some will speak the number as it is being pressed.

  1. Speed Dial Phone using Pictures or Labels

Ten digit number dialing becomes more difficult with loss of vision and/or loss of fine motor skills.  Assign a phone number to each picture button. Program and label or use a photo for each large display button on the phone.  Some phones need to be set to photocall mode. To make a call just take the phone off the hook and push the picture or label for automatic dialing and quick access to any family member or friend.

3.  Large Number Cell Phone with Operator Assistance

Large number cell phones like JUST5 and Jitterbug offer simple cell phone use thanks to large, easy to see numbers.  Some phones, like the JUST5 can be used with several cell phone carriers while the Jitterbug phone is limited to only Great Call as the  service provider.   Jitterbug offers a 5Star button that allows the phone to also be used as a medical alert device.

4.  Voice Activated Phone

My 85 and 89 year old neighbors just got their first iPhones.  The 89 year old has macular degeneration and is enjoying his new friend, Siri.   Their son programmed phone numbers into their Contact List and now with a simple command such as “Call Leslie” my neighbors can get a hold of me quickly and conveniently.

Check out these options and the variety of features that can be found with today’s Low Vision Phones:

Low Vision Phones

Leslie Degner, RN, BSN