Phone Deaf? Hear Now, Loud AND Clear


Plantronics®, for many years a leader in sound technology, has been devoting a good part of its research to enhancing sound for hearing impaired persons through its Clarity® division. The latest Clarity device to hit the market is its C4230™ telephone/answering machine that looks strictly space-age, but has all the bells, booms, and lights you need if your hearing is mildly to severely impaired right here on earth.

For those of you who experience hearing loss, you'll catch on right away when you read about ...

The Two Best Features for Hearing Impaired Persons

1. The Clarity Professional® C4230 corrects for volume and tone (loudness and clarity).

There are two setups for volume: a dial to adjust loudness from a setting of 1 to 16 and a boost button to bring the volume up to 50 decibels (dB). If you need the extra boost on all or most of the time, you can make its setting permanent, but if there are only occasional callers whom you can't hear, you can just press the boost button as needed.

For many hard-of- hearing people, amplifying the volume is not enough to understand speech; they may have difficulty interpreting certain kinds of sounds. Some, like those who have been exposed to loud music (Hi boomers!) or whose hearing is naturally deteriorating with age, may miss high frequency sounds like "sh" or "s" or "p" and "t." Here the likelihood of mistaking the word "pot" for "tot" or "hot" is high. Other types of hearing loss can result in low frequency disruption, so difficulty in distinguishing vowel sounds like "oh" or "ow" would be experienced.

A well-fitted hearing aid will adjust for modifications in tone, depending on the range of your particular frequency loss. But Clarity brings such an adjustment to its C4230. And it provides a chart in its user manual so you can program the telephone to your particular frequency loss to one of four settings. This feature is very useful, especially for persons not fitted with hearing aids. This telephone can be used by persons with or without hearing aids.

Notable as well is that the amplification and tone features are applicable to the speakerphone, answering machine, and even the ringer! The speakerphone and answering device, by the way, may be accessed from the base and the portable handset and they operate independently, so that you can use either the base or the handset as complete telephones.

The earpiece on the Clarity handset creates a cup for your ear. It was designed to channel sound to your ear like a headphone, and it provides yet another feature contributing to the clarity of the sound. Additionally, Clarity uses the headphone technology created by its parent company, Plantronics, for noise reduction and acoustic echo cancellation, helpful to all who use this telephone.

2. The Clarity Professional C4230 incorporates flashing lights as alerts and accommodates other light and vibrating alert systems.

Clarity Professional Lamp FlasherClarity Professional Lamp FlasherEven with a loud ringer and flashing lights, some hearing impaired persons may not notice a phone is ringing, if those alerts are only on their phones. They may not be close enough to the phone to notice the lights, for example. Thus, Clarity adds the ability to hook up a room light or lamp with a brighter sphere to its phone. (Wireless Lamp Flasher). Many hard of hearing persons already hook such lights to their doorbells and telephones as visual alerts.

Clarity Professional Bed ShakerClarity Professional Bed Shaker

As a physical alert when you're sleeping, you can even attach a bed shaker to your Clarity C4230. Again, hearing impaired persons may use bed shakers, vibrating devices attached to beds, as alarm clocks. Clarity makes additional visual and vibrating alert systems (links), but your own such devices may be compatible.


Plus Features For All Users

Outside of the features necessary for use by hearing-impaired persons, you're looking at a serious rival to other 5.8 GHz cordless speakerphones with answering machines. Its power adds to the sound clarity, of course, and by my own test, this extends to about 35 yards from the base with no interference.

Expandable by three phones, the Clarity C4230 has a well lit, high-contrast LED screen that makes it easy to negotiate your way around the phone's functions; the screen can be optimized for your own personal preferences too!

The answering machine has good sound quality, as mentioned before. Remote access and slow play are options for the digital answerer, which holds up to 10 minutes of messages, not quite as many minutes as most answering devices. Both the telephone and answering machine are easy to set up, with clear instructions from the user guide.

Another great feature is that if your power goes out, you can place four AA alkaline batteries in the base and use your phone for up to four hours without power.

Idiosyncrasies of the C4230

In using the phone for more than a month now, I found only two things to pick on, but I I'll share what they are:

1. The phone doesn't have a forward and back button for the programmable phone book. You can delete numbers or letters one by one, but you can't skip over them. What that means is that if you need to make a correction in the beginning of an entry, you have to erase the whole thing and redo it. This is especially annoying when all you need to do is enter a "1" or other access code before a phone number, because you have to record the number elsewhere before erasing it from the phone book. Additionally, when returning a call from Caller ID, you have to save the number to your phone book first and then go through a "format" program to add an access number. These bothersome steps could have been forestalled by adding an extra editing button that allows forward and back movement without erasure.

2. Message erasing is a bit cumbersome. If you purchase this phone, take my suggestion and either erase a message while it's playing or let it play a second time to delete it. If you have a stack of messages, you can erase the whole bunch through a series of actions, as directed in the user guide, but this feature is not the phone's most intuitive.


The above two caveats aside, I do find the Clarity C4230 to be the best phone I've tried. It's pricier than your average phone, but it gives back more than you'll spend. The ability to hear loud and clear is certainly worth the extra $150 or so you spend for the Clarity C4230, which lists for $269.95. Plus, the handset is the most comfortable you'll ever use. It's wide enough for a large keypad, and the earpiece, inspired by an ice cream scoop, snugly holds your ear. The sound is terrific and it just feels right.

I really think the C4230 is a great advancement towards normalizing the lives of hearing impaired persons. Thanks to Plantronics for a free sample of their phone to test.

Keeping you posted!


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Boomer Babe
Featured Writer

Nov 30, 2008
by Anonymous

phone for hearing impaired mom

My mother just bought a new home and is hard of hearing. My dad is does not like to hear the phone ring all the time. so we are looking for a phone she can talk on and hear well. Also one that does not ring but flashes lights!
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