Laryngectomy and Electrolarynx guide – Speaking on the Phone
One of the problems that patients with laryngectomies usually experience appears while speaking on the phone. This is because their voice is sometimes hard to understand due to the vocal cords manipulation that happens during surgery. After that procedure, these can be affected, altering in many ways their voice.
The lack of comprehension of their voice can be very discomforting to the person on the other side of the phone, making them, sometimes, hang up the phone. To avoid this issue, the patient with the laryngectomy would have to ask the other person if he could hear him, explaining why he is speaking like that.
Many times, is very common for people who converse face-to-face with a laryngectomy patient to read their lips during the conversation, being able to understand what he is saying. This can also be done through a video call using many apps like Skype, Facetime, etc. Using this method, the other person could surely rely on lips reading to understand.
Of course, this cannot be done during a phone call, so, for this reason, the patient will need to articulate the words clearly when speaking on the phone, talking slower and over articulating more than usual. One way to practice this is by speaking to someone in person without facing him.
Another way to improve phone comprehension relies on the phone itself. Placing the phone´s microphone right at the lips or slightly above them can reduce some of the buzzing sounds that make the conversation harder to understand.
Loud electrolarynx sounds might mask the individual´s articulation, making the vocal transmission incomprehensible. By lowering the speech aid volume and putting the microphone close to the mouth, the conversation will be fully understood. If this does not result, there are phones specially designed that are capable of amplifying the outgoing voice, making it easier for the patient to be heard and understand.
Specially trained communication assistants are also available nationally, which allow people with speech difficulties to be understood while communicating over the phone. For this, no special phone is needed.
By calling 711, laryngectomy patients can access the Telecommunications Relay Services (TRS) anywhere in the United States. TRS facilitates telephone conversations by one or more people who have speech and hearing disabilities. All telecommunications carriers in the U.S., including wire-line, wireless, and payphone providers must provide 711 services.
Sending text messages through mobile phones can help laryngectomy patients communicate while being in a noisy place or when these have other communication difficulties. Other communication methods include teletypewriter devices (TTY), telecommunication device for the deaf (TDD), using a telephone modem and display between devices, and using relay operators.