EPISODE 12 – Phone provided at no cost with closed captioning for anyone with a hearing loss – June 15, 2022

Bart begins a series of interviews with special needs trust partners to increase the quality of life for beneficiaries. This first interview is with Melinda who represents a solution for people with hearing loss to communicate easier on phones.


Greetings from our Middle Tennessee studio. Welcome to today’s Vista Points podcast, “Choose Your Path”, where the Vista Points staff are committed to improving the quality of life for people living with a disability.

I’m Bart, your podcast host. My role is to walk with you on this journey of discovering and using special needs trusts. If you’re listening to this podcast online, I want you to make the most of your experience.   We do have a feature to help you understand the podcast. You can turn on closed captioning by clicking the C-C in the shadowed box on the video screen.

We have recently begun digging into deeper topics addressing special needs trusts and the topic of children living with a disability. Today, we begin a new approach with interviews of business partners who also serve people living with disabilities, chronic illness and who have special needs. 


I am glad to welcome Melinda Hale, Account Manager with Caption Call Phone Service.

Bart – Melinda, I am pleased to have you on our podcast today. Darlene Kemp, who is the Executive Director of Vista Points Special Needs Trusts, has told me about your product. She is a true believer in this type of phone service and phone display for people living with a disability, such as a hearing loss. Now, it is my understanding that people who have any kind of hearing loss, whether great or small, can benefit from using the Caption Call phone. So, let’s get started. I have a few questions to ask. I want to help our audience understand the Caption Call and the service it provides.

Melinda – Thank you, Bart, for having me on your Vista Points podcast. I’ve been working with Caption Call for about 4 ½ years. And what stands out about our service is that Caption Phone has no cost for those that have a hearing loss and need captioning in order to be able to function on the phone. Our phones are optimized for individuals with hearing loss. The unit uses voice-to-text technology, assisted by captioning agents and automated speech recognition, to transcribe your conversation so that the other speakers’ words appear on your Caption Call screen.

Bart – That sounds practical, Melinda, but will you tell me exactly what Caption Call phones are? I know many of our listeners have special needs trusts. Plus, there must be some sort of fee for this service, maybe for the actual phone? Please tell me more.

Melinda – Sure. With Caption Call’s captioning service, you can hear and read what the other person is saying. You can control that volume, and you can control the size of that as the Caption Call phone displays big, easy-to-read text that automatically scrolls during your conversation, much like closed captions when you’re watching your television. The dials and rings and works just like a regular phone. It has a built-in answering machine, you can save phone calls when you go to hang up, etc. The cost of the phone is no cost for those that simply have a hearing loss and need captions in order to be able to communicate. We are an approved device of the American Disabilities Act. And we are sponsored and paid for by the FCC. The FCC has a line, communication-line, tax that’s been added to phone bills for years that is set aside for relay and for captioning service for those with a hearing loss.

Bart – Wow, for our listeners who have a hearing loss or a disability, how do they know if they need Caption Call?

Melinda – A lot of times it’s simply, just simply the fact that “What? I can’t understand you.” You catch yourself saying that too often. If you have that hearing impairment, it makes it difficult for you to use the phone. The phone is sometimes the first thing that becomes difficult. So the captions allow you to be able use the phone effectively and keep that social communication going. Caption Call service is intended for people having a hearing loss, regardless of the cause. There is no age limit to what we do, and there is no restriction to how much of a hearing loss you have. Simply if you struggle to hear on the phone, and you need the captions in order to be able to hear and to communicate, you qualify for the phone.

Bart – It sounds like Caption Call is different from a regular phone, is that correct?

Melinda – The Caption Call phone is a pretty much normal phone. It allows you to be able to read those captions on a fairly large display, it rings, it dials, it lights up when you have a missed call, it will show you those missed calls, you can read and listen to those missed calls as well, you’re also able to save a call when you go to hang up if you need somebody else to listen to that.

Bart – Melinda, you know, I think I am beginning to understand this service. To make sure I’ve got this right, let’s say my eyesight is poor, which it is. And, I also have hearing aids. With poor eyesight, will I still be able to read the captions?

Melinda – We have a couple different models of phones that allow us to be able to change that ability, to be able to look for a font that you can read. That’s something our Trainers work with to make sure that it’s something you can read. That being said, if you are blind or you’re unable to read, Caption Call will not work for you.

Bart – Wow, can I use Caption Call on a mobile device?

Melinda – Yes! We do have an app that works just the way that our home phone works. It allows you to be able to open on an iPhone, an iPad, or an Android. You answer those calls through our app, and you’re able to read the words and listen at the same time.

Bart –  Okay, tell me a little more about how Caption Call works.

Melinda – Sure. We use the most advanced voice recognition technology. We have captioning agents that are literally live on the line and are captioning as you go and a fast transcription service to display written captions of what a caller is saying on a large, easy-to-read screen.

Bart – Okay, I have hearing aids in both ears, like I said earlier. And, you’re saying that I can still use this?

Melinda – Yes! We actually have a magnet in the handset of the phone to trigger a hearing aid to be able to function. So we are completely compatible with hearing aids. In fact, with the TIA, Telecommunications Industry Association, the standard TIA-1083 for hearing aid compatibility and reduced interference.

Bart – Well, all of this sounds too good to be true, Melinda. I think I figured out the catch. I bet I can’t keep my current phone number for the Caption Call phone to work. Is that’s the case, can I keep it?

Melinda – Sure. There is no catch, Bart. The Caption Call phone works with your current phone number. We work with a landline. We work with your cell phone. You can Bluetooth to our phone when you’re in your home. And we also work simply with no Internet access. So, it works for a landline phone, cell phone and does not require Internet to work.

Bart – Okay, well I’ve got the Caption Call phone in my house. Does it affect the other phones in the house? Will they still work?

Melinda – Yes, they’ll still work. You simply put the Caption Call phone where your normal sitting place is, or what some people like to call their nest, where they actually are the most. And you use that one simply most of the time.

Bart – This sounds good. Now I have another question. Many of my friends and relatives live in other states. What about long-distance calls? Can I use my Caption Call phone for long-distance calls?

Melinda – Sure. What we do, our phone simply doesn’t change your service. It’s just an addition to what you already have. So, your service remains the same with whoever your carrier is and whatever that is. You still pay the same monthly phone bill every month and have the same abilities that you have now.

Bart – Okay, well that got right into my next question. I was going to ask if I need to change phone carriers.

Melinda – No, there’s no change. We’re compatible with any service that’s out there. Anything that works, we pretty much can work with it.

Bart – For people living with a disability, there’s times when they are in an emergency situation. Can I use Caption Call to call 911 in case of an emergency?

Melinda – Absolutely. Actually, in the year 2020, which was our crazy pandemic year, we processed over 23,000 9-1-1 calls that year. So, we definitely work well with 9-1-1, and we’re completely trained to do that.

Bart – Wow. You have told me so much about using this product, but what if someone in my household doesn’t want to use the product? Can a person turn off captions during a phone call?

Melinda – Absolutely. You have a button on the phone that allows you to turn captioning off. And, we do encourage that, and it’s required, because FCC only wants people using the captions that do have that hearing loss.

Bart – Wow, you’ve sold me on this product, Melinda! How could a person get Caption Call?

Melinda – There’s a couple different ways that you can get that. You can reach out to any Account Manager with Caption Call in your area. We’re all pretty much on all the local social medias. You can also go to www.captioncall.com, click the Order Now button at the top and request that. Our scheduling staff and customer service people will reach out to you and help you schedule that installation. You can also go to your hearing care or provider health care provider. We work a lot with audiologists and ENT offices to make sure they are able to provide that with their patients as well.

Bart – Okay. You’ve talked about installation. Now, tell me about the cost to install this product.

Melinda – Well, there is no cost to install the product. So, we go back to there’s no cost for the phone, there’s no cost for the service and there’s no cost for the install. We offer a Red Carpet Installation where our Trainers come out and teach people how to use the phone. They install it, hook it up at the convenient location that they want it and make sure that the phone is working and that they know how to use it. We also, if people are uncomfortable with our Trainers coming in their homes with everything that we’ve gone through, we do offer a self-guided install with Trainers being able to be on the phone or a virtual Trainer to be able to help.

Bart – Okay, I want to talk a little bit more about the cost for using this phone. Will my phone bill increase?

Melinda – Absolutely not. We are an addition to your phone service, so your bill’s going to stay exactly the same. There is no cost for what we do as long as that person has a hearing loss and needs the captions in order to be able to use the phone.

Bart – Okay, Melinda, I know you told me once, but explain to me again how Caption Call service is provided to a qualified user at no cost. 

Melinda – Right, like I mentioned earlier, this is something that’s hard for a lot of people to understand that it is simply at no cost. And that’s, we’re grateful because we are approved by the American Disabilities Act (ADA) and the FCC funds, are what pays for what we do. So simply the fact that you have a hearing loss and you need captions in order to communicate on the phone, you qualify for our phone and our service.

Bart – Okay, we’re talking about people who are living with disabilities, so, they qualify to get Caption Call, right?

Melinda – Absolutely. Any type of hearing loss and needing the captions qualifies you for the phone.

Bart – Are there a lot of hoops to jump through to get Caption Call phone service? What information is required before I can use Caption Call?

Melinda – Well, we do have to have a little bit of information. You can fill out a self-certification that says you have that hearing loss that necessitates use of captioned telephone service; and that you understand captions on the captioned telephone service are provided by a Communications Assistant who listens to the other party on the line to provide the text on the captioned phone; that you understand that the captioning service is funded through a federal program; and that you will not permit, to the best of your ability, persons who have not been registered to use Caption Call to make captioned telephone calls.

Registration information includes your full name, address, telephone number as well as the last four digits of your Social Security Number and your date of birth. Certification and registration information are collected when the Caption Call phone is installed. The Caption Call captioning service cannot be used without providing both the self-cert and the registration information.

Bart – Wow. I’ve got one more question. Where is Caption Call available?

Melinda – We actually cover all of the United States and Puerto Rico. We have Trainers and Account Managers all across the nation to take care of the needs of people.

Bart – Melinda, could you share a story of one of your Caption Call clients and how it impacted his or her life?

Melinda – I’m basically, Bart, I can tell you how it impacted mine. It was one of the first few weeks that I was on the job and I was able to ride with one of our Installers and go to a man’s home and literally watch him receive the phone. He had a hearing loss. He had hearing aids in both ears. And, we helped him be able to get on the phone and be able to make a phone call. His first phone call was to a granddaughter that lived in California. For some reason he could not hear her pitch. Even with his hearing aids, he could not hear the tone of her voice. The man literally cried when he was able to talk to his granddaughter and find out how her day had been at school. So, that’s why my five-year commitment has been going and that’s why I’m still here. Is watching those light up moments in people being able to talk.

Bart – Wow, that’s a heart-warmer.

Melinda – Yep.

Bart -Thank you, Melinda. I appreciate your time today and your insights on Caption Call, and I am sure you have informed and educated others about how today’s technology can benefit those with hearing loss. Remember, for more information about Caption Call, you can visit their website at www.captioncall.com. That’s www.captioncall.com.

And to our listeners, thank you for tuning in to today’s episode of Choose Your Path, a Vista Points podcast. Subscribe now to YouTube channel named Vista Points SNT, that’s S-N-T as in special needs trust. There you can subscribe and be notified the latest episodes go live, which are on the 1st and the 15th of every month.

You can find past episodes on the Vista Points website at vistapoints.org, as well as a transcript of each podcast. The episode topics are in response to listeners’ questions! If you haven’t asked your questions yet, I encourage you to ask or share other concerns online or by calling. When you’re online, visit the Facebook page named Vista Points and send a direct message, otherwise known as a D-M, to Vista Points, that’s Vista-Points-I-N-C, VistaPointsInc. 

Or, call the Vista Points office at 888-422-4076. That number, 888-422-4076. Each of the Vista Points team wants to answer your questions and assist you in whatever way they can.

Now, enjoy your day with your loved one. Come back for more or look into past episodes of Choose Your Path. Regardless of where or when you find us, we walk beside you on your path. I look forward to our next steps together and speaking to you soon.