Cell Phones for the Deaf or Hard of Hearing

The best smartphones and phone plans for deaf and HOH people

Deaf woman using sign language on the smartphone
humonia / Getty Images

For the deaf and hard-of-hearing (HOH) community, texting is the lifeblood of a cell phone’s usefulness. Thankfully, several companies offer phones and phone plans specifically tailored to deaf and HOH individuals. There are data-only plans and even phones for those who wear hearing aids.

Information in this article applies broadly to various phone services and brands. Consult individual company websites for further details on specific plans and devices.

Cell Phones and Plans for the Deaf and HOH

Smartphones that support SMS texting meet the basic needs of the deaf and HOH. Before text messaging, such individuals relied on assistive technology like teletypewriters and relay services to communicate over the phone. In today's connected world, the deaf and HOH also need data plans to use apps like Google Maps and Uber, making a smartphone a near necessity for survival.

That said, phone plans typically bundle talking, texting, and internet services. For example, a cell phone plan might cost $50 with a certain amount of minutes and then $10 extra for unlimited texting. Deaf and HOH customers, however, wouldn’t need any of the voice minutes, so there are alternative plans just for them.

The Best Cell Phone Plans and Carriers for Texting

T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint, and many other major carriers offer packages with data only (no voice) for the deaf or HOH. Most plans catering to such persons cost considerably less than a regular mobile phone plan.

AT&T has plans and devices for their deaf and HOH customers including phones for use with hearing aids. There are also bundled devices and plans such as the ClearCaptions phone, a service provided by the federal government for people with disabilities.

The Best Cell Phones for the Deaf and HOH

Phones with a full keypad make frequent texting more convenient for the deaf and HOH. Examples of advanced phones that facilitate the fast and heavy use of texting and e-mailing include:

  • The LG Extravert 2
  • The BlackBerry KeyOne
  • The BlackBerry Key2 LE
  • The BlackBerry Priv
  • The Fxtec Pro1
  • The Samsung Galaxy Folder 2

Other phones like the Samsung Galaxy S8 support keyboard covers to simplify texting. There are also amplified smartphones like the Amplicomms PowerTel M9500 that is ideal for individuals with some hearing and those who wear hearing aids.

Best Cell Phones for Use With Hearing Aids

Some deaf and HOH individuals who wear hearing aids may experience interference with cell phones. One way to mitigate this problem is to use a telecoil receiver. A few examples of phones that support telecoils for hearing aids include:

  • All iPhones
  • The HTC First
  • The Pantech Breeze III
  • The Samsung Galaxy S4 Active

Other hands-free accessories along with induction neck loops can also help lessen electronic interference. Go America specifically combats this problem by offering hearing-aid compatible (HAC) phones such as the Jitterbug. Other companies offer various accessories to assist the deaf and HOH community including Harris Communications and United TTY Wireless.