1. Clear Captions

ClearCaptions was founded in 2011 and offers live captioning services for phone calls to assist people who are hard of hearing. It has high standards for its clients' privacy and security.

To use ClearCaptions's services you must self-certify your need and have a medical professional certify your medically recognized hearing loss. You also must be a U.S. resident. 

ClearCaptions's services are free. They are offered under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and paid for by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

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The Good

  • Landline Capabilities
  • Mobile Capabilities
  • Free Service
  • Confidentiality Practices
  • Helpful Website

Landline Capabilities

ClearCaptions is available for landline phones. ClearCaptions will provide you with a landline phone that has a touch screen display. On the display, you can adjust the font and color of the captioning.

In addition to the free phone, you'll receive free installation, on-going support, and the captioning service for free. The captioning service will caption your conversation in almost real-time and will caption incoming voicemails.

All you need to have is a high-speed internet connection, landline home phone and service, and a registered ClearCaptions account.

While having the captioning service is helpful and makes communication easier, ClearCaptions recommends using your regular phone channels for emergency situations because emergency services can pinpoint your location because of how the phone network is set up.

Mobile Capabilities

ClearCaptions also offers its services for mobile. Using the ClearCaptions app, you'll have the same capabilities as the landline to have your calls captioned and to adjust font size and color. You'll also be able to save your conversations through the app.

To access the mobile app, you'll need an iPhone or iPad iOS 12.0 or higher, internet access, and a registered ClearCaptions account. 

With the mobile app, you'll receive a personalized ClearCaptions number. You can use this number for specific people or have all of your incoming calls captioned. ClearCaptions will help you autoforward all your calls from your current number to your ClearCaptions number so that you don't have to go through the hassle of letting everyone know your new number.

Free Service

ClearCaptions's services are free to eligible users because the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) pays for it. It's excellent to have this service available for free because you don't have to worry about additional strain on your budget to enjoy barrier-free communication.

Confidentiality

ClearCaptions has strict confidentiality protocols. Captions disappear from each communications assistant's screen as soon as the conversation ends. ClearCaptions does not keep any records of the captioning. The only way conversations are stored is if you choose to save them on the mobile app.

Helpful Website

ClearCaptions's website is helpful. You can find all the information you need to know about the services it offers. It also has helpful videos and how-to guides that you can reference if you have questions or run into issues.

The forms you need to determine your eligibility and receive a registered account are also downloadable from the website.

The Bad

  • Eligibility Requirements
  • Strict Usage Rules
  • No Mobile Capability from Android Phones Yet
  • Limited Customer Service Hours

Eligibility Requirements

To use ClearCaptions's services, you must be hard of hearing with medically recognized hearing loss. You are required to self-certify and be certified by a qualified health care professional like an audiologist.

You also must be a U.S. resident in the United States or its territories.

Strict Usage Rules

ClearCaptions's services are incredibly valuable and have a per-minute cost. Because these services are offered for free under the ADA, users must meet the eligibility criteria. It is also against federal law to use ClearCaptions's services if you are not a registered user.

No Mobile Capabilities for Android Yet

ClearCaptions does not have the capability for Android use yet. If you don't have an Apple product, you should consider other options or use ClearCaptions's landline services.

Unfortunately, ClearCaptions does not provide mobile devices or internet services. It only offers the mobile app in the App Store and hardware for its landline services.

Limited Customer Service Hours

ClearCaptions's customer service is not available around the clock. Customer service is available Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. ET and 10 p.m. ET. You can also contact customer service Saturday and Sunday between 9 a.m. ET and 7 p.m. ET.

The Bottom Line

ClearCaptions offers helpful captioning services to help you communicate well if you've become hard of hearing and live in the United States. If you have a landline or Apple products, you'll benefit from ClearCaptions's free services.

While you do have to certify that you're eligible for these services, cost isn't a barrier if you need them. The FCC administers a fund to pay for these services under the ADA's mandate.

ClearCaptions's communications assistants follow high professional, confidential, and security practices. Your conversations aren't stored by ClearCaptions, and conversations disappear from communications assistants' screens when your phone call ends. If you're using the mobile app, you can decide whether or not you want to store your conversations there.

While Android users will need to find another company for mobile captioning, ClearCaptions gets our recommendation for its quality services.

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