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Text Me! – Communication for Hearing Loss

Text messaging is the main mode of communication for those of us with hearing loss. Texting doesn’t tax our energy the way phone calls do. With phone calls, we have to interpret sounds with distorted hearing; hearing aids, CI or no hearing devices. It’s a chore. We are filling in gaps in conversation without visual communication cues. Conversations on the phone are like a puzzle to piece together. Reading texts requires less energy. Thank goodness for this technology!

By Chelle

Background is colorful puzzle pieces jumbled together. Black font: Don't call me! Words in puzzle pieces Meet us (garbled) restaurant (garbled) o'clock. Got that? No. Please text me the info. @hearinglosslive
Text Messages?

The concept of text messages was brought up at a small SayWhatClub gathering I attended around 1998 in Southern California. I don’t remember who told us about it but my brain could NOT wrap around the idea. It took a few more years to understand text messaging and I learned around 2004 thanks to my teenagers. I learned on a flip phone and I loved it! Not many other adults I knew were using it at the time yet it kept me in touch with my kids. 

Side story: I have 3 kids – one girl and two boys. Before the boys hit puberty, all 3 of their voices sounded the same to my hearing loss through the phone. I often guessed the wrong kid and they got offended. Texting took care of the guessing game.

After about a year or so later, my mom picked up texting. I don’t know who taught her as we lived a few hours away from each other but I was grateful…and so was she. Before texting, we talked on the phone maybe once a week. With texting, we checked in almost daily with each other. She was my first, consistent texting adult.

Texting by Numbers on Flip Phones
Background is colorful puzzle pieces jumbled up. A pink flip phone that says, 1 new message on the display. Black font: Do you remember all the maneuvering we do with to text on these babies? :-D

That’s when we used the letters corresponding to each number. There were multiple word combinations with the numbers. We had to use another key to shift through the words to find the one we wanted. The number keys were raised on flip phones so I could text by feel. Because I texted so much, I learned which combinations would need a word change and could also do that by feel. 

That’s not to say I didn’t mess up. Sometimes I’d be in a hurry forgetting to edit. One Thanksgiving, I was getting ready to go to my mom’s house, packing what I needed. I was in charge of the pie so I sent a text to my mom asking her if she had a pie plate. There was a long silence and then I got, “What?”  Reading back, my prior text asked her, “Do you have a she slave” instead of “Do you have a pie plate?” We had a good laugh.

For an interesting timeline on text messaging, check out this article by MessageDesk. It also has a visual timeline for texting. For those not familiar with keypad numbers, here’s a picture from Wikipedia

Credit: By Sakurambo – Created using Adobe Illustrator CS2, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2048341
Smartphones & Texting

It took me a little bit to get a smartphone. I did not want to give up my ‘text by feel’ ability. What won me over was easier access to my email. Bye-bye flip phone, hello email. Email is my second favorite way to communicate. My phone was used for everything but phone calls. The rollover voice minutes stacked up while my texts were in the thousands each month. 

It’s still that way! Now and then I make voice calls thanks to caption apps. However, my main mode of communication is still texting. I’ll be at the HLAA Convention next week to tour their awesome exhibit hall. Several of my Hard of Hearing friends are attending the convention. The last one I talked to asked me to text her as she doesn’t answer random calls. Right on sista! I’m the exact same way. I have to be in a controlled environment to make, or take, a phone call.

Who else prefers texting over phone calls?
Background is colorful puzzle pieces. Black tilted text upper left corner says: Texting is less guesswork then tilted black text in lower left corner says: for hard of hearing ears. In between are text bubbles.
Green bubble: John, Brenda and I are going to Market Grill tonight for dinner do you want to join us?
Gray bubble says: That sounds great! Thanks for asking. What time?
Green bubble: How does 7:00 sound?
Gray bubble: Perfect, I'll see you there.
@hearinglosslive

Those of us with hearing loss aren’t the only ones who prefer to text over phone calls. Introverts put texting above phone calls. Younger people, like my kids, prefer to text. According to ChatGPT, tech savvy professionals prefer texting and so do urban people because it’s less intrusive than phone calls. (Listening to other people’s phone conversations in coffee shops, in line for public transit and more.)

Other reasons people prefer texting…
  • It’s quick and convenient.
  • We can multitask.
  • If needed, we can refer back to the text for confirmation.
  • It’s private. We can text each other in the same room without others knowing.
  • It’s fun! There’s so many ways to share our feelings; GIFs, emojis, stickers and avatars. 
Want to trip out?

We think text messaging is fairly instant. I thought of it as real-time but it’s not. Turn on the RTT in your smartphone’s accessibility menu and turn it on. Then, call someone who also has that turned on. Before the phone dials out, it gives you a choice of voice, video call or RTT. Select RTT and it will dial out. Then you watch each other type. That’s real-time!

 Options

We have many options for communication these days, thanks to technology. Phone calls with captions. Video calls with captions. What I see for people with hearing loss, we prefer texting over anything else. Many businesses are now incorporating text messaging into their communications as well. Thank goodness! 

Summer Vacation Note

Hearing Loss LIVE! does not have a live, online workshop in July. We will be back August 6, 2024 for Let’s Talk Tuesday. We will release a short podcast each week in July. Watch our social media on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and your favorite podcast streaming platform for more information. Lipreading classes will start again early fall.

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