Clarity Pal: A Mobile Phone For Hearing-Impaired

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The Clarity Pal.

The Clarity Pal cellphone isn’t designed for generations X-Y-Z, tweeners or techies, but this not-so-smartphone should hit a sweet spot with seniors and the hearing-impaired.

The Pal is an old-style, rectangular brick of a cellphone with 25 decibels of amplification, which might not sound like a lot — in the everyday world, it’s a whisper — but in the ear it’s loud.

These ears, with normal hearing, were not a fair test. But I could quickly hear the difference, not so much in the volume (fortunately, adjustable) but in its laser focus, as if the signals were beamed directly into the ears.

Marcia Hunt, soon to be 80 years old and near deaf without hearing aids, was a better audiological match for the Pal. (Disclosure: She’s also my mother.) After several hours of testing, she declared it the best phone she has tried and the first that didn’t require her to remove her hearing aids.

She’d buy one, she said, if Clarity, a division of Plantronics, would sign up Verizon as a service provider. For now, the Pal’s biggest carriers are AT&T and T-Mobile. Clarity says it’s working at adding more service providers, including Verizon.

The Pal, an unlocked (GSM) phone with a 2-inch LCD screen, has several other features that might appeal to seniors: a highlighted dial pad with oversize buttons, a talk-back function that announces numbers as the user dials them, talking caller ID and a one-touch emergency button that calls and texts five programmed numbers.

The Pal, which does not require a long-term contract, costs $99 at clarityproducts.com.

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