Program helps those with hearing loss

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The New Mexico Commission for Deaf and Hard of Hearing, the state government agency that distributes specialized telecommunications equipment, is now offering New Mexicans with hearing loss a first-of-its-kind amplified phone that allows users to read as well as hear conversations.
 Clarity — a division of Plantronics — and ClearCaptions joined together to develop Ensemble, a phone that captions conversations in real time through its seven-inch tablet display, while amplifying incoming sound up to 50 decibels.  Launched in January, Ensemble provides the most accurate phone conversation possible for people with hearing loss.
 “Our agency works to provide New Mexico’s deaf and hard of hearing community with the best possible solutions for their needs, and Ensemble is precisely what we need,” said Shannon Smith, NMCDHH’s director of Telecommunications and Technical Assistance/relay administrator. “With Ensemble, we’re bringing our program participants the latest in phone technology — precise text coupled with amplified voice—so they have the ability to communicate with friends and family, which is critical but often taken for granted by those of us who do not have from hearing loss.”
When an individual places or receives a call on Ensemble, the other party’s words are transcribed through ClearCaptions, a Federal Communications Commission-certified telephone-captioning service that is similar to closed captions for television. As the user listens, captions appear on Ensemble’s touch screen display in a large, easy-to-read font that can be enlarged or adjusted with the swipe of a finger.
 Simultaneously, Ensemble amplifies incoming voice through a patented digital sound processing technology that functions like a hearing aid to make soft sounds audible and keep loud sounds in a comfortable range. With its intuitive touch screen interface, users can adjust the tone or amplification settings to customize Ensemble to their unique degree of hearing loss. Ensemble is also equipped with ClarityLogic, an award-winning customer service technology that allows customer service representatives to remotely access the phone and make adjustments for the
New Mexico residents who are certified as having a hearing loss can obtain Ensemble by completing an application, providing a copy of a phone bill, a copy of an audiogram or hearing test and a copy of a driver’s license or state issued identification card.
For more information, call NMCDHH at 1-800-489-8536 or visit cdhh.state.nm.us/TEDP.aspx.