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Hearing Impaired? The New ‘Ensemble’ Phone Can Help

Each day, small business owners all over America conduct business by telephone without even thinking about it. Everything from major deals to status reports from employees are done using smartphones and landlines, making the ability to hear a necessary part of owning a business. This has left hearing impaired business owners at a distinct disadvantaged when competing for jobs.

But a new gadget can help. Unveiled at the recent Consumer Electronics Show, Ensemble bills itself as a first-of-its-kind phone that allows hearing impaired people to conduct phone conversations without the help of a translating service. Introduced by Clarity, which is a division of wireless headset manufacturer Plantronics, Ensemble is an eye-catching office phone featuring a built-in seven-inch tablet-based screen. When the person at the other end of the line speaks, Ensemble rapidly translates voice to text, providing an on-screen print out of the words that have been spoken.

Hearing loss is an undeniable problem in our country, due in large part to an aging baby boomer population. But senior citizens aren’t the only ones experiencing trouble hearing, with an estimated 13 percent of the population suffering hearing problems, according to estimates by Gallaudet Research. Introducing land lines with voice-to-text capabilities opens up the workplace to a population that previously was challenged to do tasks like answer phones. This provides opportunities for hearing impaired entrepreneurs, as well as opening up a new sector of hard workers for hiring business owners.

But Ensemble isn’t only for severely hearing impaired workers. The large, easy-to-read type can help workers who simply have a slight amount of trouble hearing easily interpret phone conversations. Even better, the font can be enlarged by just swiping a finger across the screen, allowing workers to customize print to meet their own needs.

“Ensemble is breaking new ground on sight and sound,” said Carsten Trads, president of Clarity. ”Not only is it loud and clear, but it’s the first to deliver captions through a tablet display. We’ve brought together the latest in technology to provide the hearing loss community with a phone that is carefully designed for their needs. Ensemble can be life changing for millions of people who want to enjoy phone conversations again, reconnect with loved ones or stay engaged in the world.”

For Ensemble to work, your office will have to have high-speed wi-fi, but once that is in place the captioning is free. You can even save your conversations to review later or to save as verification of what was said. Listeners not only benefit from captioning, but the phone uses hearing aid technology to improve call clarity and help you hear like never before. With sound amplification of up to 50 decibels, some workers will find they have an improved telephone experience even before reading the captions.

Ensemble is priced at approximately $200 per handset, with orders being accepted soon. To learn more about Ensemble or pre-order a set, visit Clarity’s website.

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About Stephanie Faris

Stephanie is a freelance writer and young adult/middle grade novelist, who worked in information systems for more than a decade. Her first book, 30 Days of No Gossip, will be released by Simon and Schuster in spring 2014. She lives in Nashville with her husband.

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