How to Use Your Smartphone to Cope With Hearing Loss (2024): Tips for iPhone, Android


MFi hearing devices usually have additional settings (it depends on the manufacturer) and can be configured from Control Center (with Hearing added) or through the Accessibility shortcut, which you can turn on and configure in Settings > Accessibility > Accessibility Shortcut.

To use hearing aids with Android phones, pair them like any other Bluetooth device by going to Settings > Connected Devices and Pair New Device. You may also have the option to pair through Settings > Accessibility > Hearing Devices and Pair New Device.

Additional features vary by phone manufacturer. Look for hearing aid compatibility (HAC) to see what your phone supports. For example, here is the Google Pixel hearing aid compatibility page. Some hearing aids can now stream music and podcasts directly to hearing aids from Android phones, but it’s wise to check compatibility before you buy.

When using hearing aids with Pixel phones you should also open the Phone app, tap the three vertical dots for Menu at the top right, and tap Settings > Accessibility to toggle Hearing Aids on.

If you don’t yet have a hearing aid but think you might need one, read our guide on how to buy a hearing aid. We also have a guide on how to stream audio to hearing aids and cochlear implants.

How to Use Real-Time Text With Your Phone

Some folks may prefer to type responses on a call, and you can do this with the real-time text (RTT) feature. Sadly, availability depends on your region and carrier. If there’s no RTT option, you will likely have Teletype (TTY) support instead. (RTT is more advanced and can transmit audio as you type.)

On Android phones, open the Phone app, tap the three vertical dots for Menu at the top right, and tap Settings > Accessibility to turn on RTT or TTY. If you choose Always Visible, you can tap the RTT icon (a capital T) after dialing someone to start an RTT call, and you can tap to launch it during a call.

To review transcripts of calls on Android, open your Phone app and tap Recents, choose the call you want, and then Call Details > See Transcript.

For iPhone, you can turn on RTT or TTY in Settings > Accessibility and you can select Answer All Calls as RTT/TTY. You can also choose RTT/TTY Call when calling someone and tap the RTT/TTY icon (looks like a landline phone) to answer a call or switch to text during a call.

To review transcripts of calls on iPhone, open your Phone app and tap Recents, then the i next to the call. You will see the RTT/TTY icon next to calls with transcripts in your call history.

Why Some Android Accessibility Features Are Baked Into Pixels

You may be wondering why some hearing accessibility features are baked into Google’s Pixel phones but offered as separate apps for other Android devices. Angana Ghosh, director of product management for input and accessibility at Google, says this allows the accessibility team to try new things on Pixel, where Google designs the hardware, especially since some phones may not be capable of the same level of on-device processing.

Keeping certain features as stand-alone apps also allows for regular updates so other Android phones can benefit from the latest developments without requiring firmware updates, which are often less frequent on non-Pixel phones.


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