AudiologyOnline Phone: 800-753-2160

Caption Call - Closer with Captions - December 2021

Hearing Loss, Social Isolation and How IP Captioned Telephone Service Can Help

Steve DeMari

March 1, 2021

An interview with Steve DeMari, Director of Business Development & Education at CaptionCall


AudiologyOnline: Is there a link to depression and hearing loss?

steve demari

Mr. DeMari: In recent years, many studies are revealing a relationship between hearing loss and social isolation. In addition, untreated hearing loss can lead to a higher risk of depression, cognitive decline and dementia, risk of falling, memory loss, along with greater anxiety and frustration leading to social interaction withdrawal. It’s long been demonstrated that hearing loss has a negative impact on quality of life. Dr. Elizabeth Masterson, an epidemiologist at NIOSH, indicates that more people have hearing loss than diabetes, cancer or vision trouble (read the full article here). Read more in our white paper, Hearing Loss and Healthy Aging, authored by Frank R. Lin, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Otolaryngology, Geriatric Medicine, Mental Health, and Epidemiology, at Johns Hopkins University.

AudiologyOnline: Can using hearing aids and assistive devices reduce these risks?  

Mr. DeMari: Yes, probably!  If you need to use these assistive devices, there is no downside to using a hearing aid, captions on TV or telephones, or any other ancillary amplification device. We suggest that consumers who have any signs or symptoms of hearing loss and are feeling the frustration of having to deal with a hearing loss, make an appointment with an audiologist for a hearing evaluation. Many people wait too long to address hearing loss issues and withdraw from conversations rather than deal with the problem directly. The bottom line is that using hearing aids and ancillary devices for hearing and communication is less conspicuous than the hearing loss itself. Connecting and conversing with friends and family will help the brain stay younger and keep consumers involved in life. Social Isolation - especially during the time of this pandemic - has seemed to increase and become more common.  In a recent study by Rogers, Pearson, Ashley, & Lamar (2020), they state, "Humans are social beings by nature, in addition to food and water, we also need social interaction to be healthy”. Read the study here, and check out the CaptionCall blog for more information. 

AudiologyOnline: So, what is IP CTS? 

Mr. DeMari: Internet protocol Captioned telephone service (CTS) allows a person who can speak but who has difficulty hearing over the telephone to both read captions and use his or her residual hearing to understand a telephone conversation. The person with hearing loss speaks directly to the called party on the telephone, and then listens, to the extent possible, to the other party and simultaneously reads captions of what the other party is saying.  To qualify to use IP CTS, an individual must have a hearing loss that necessitates the use of captioned telephone service in order to effectively communicate on the telephone.  Current captioned telephones use the internet to send the captions to the phone. This is an improvement over earlier devices that required multiple phone lines or calling a second phone number to relay the phone call. Audiologists can certify a patient to receive CaptionCall phone service using this online form.

Animated image of the relationship between the phone user captioner and captioned text

AudiologyOnline: How are the ADA & FCC involved in IP CTS?

Mr. DeMari: The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA),passed in 1990, impacted those with hearing loss as it led to the development of Telecommunications Relay Services (TRS). More specifically, Title IV of the ADA required assistive services be made available to qualified end users in any state, at any time, at a cost no greater than what a person withour hearing loss would pay for telephone services. As technology advanced, relay service (like IP CTS) were developed, enabling those with hearing loss to communicate effectively and naturally with people who are hearing. Today, thanks to the ADA and the FCC, funds are still set aside to help people with hearing loss effectively use the telephone at no cost. CaptionCall continues to be a leading provider of the FCC-authorized captioned telephone service and continues to advocate for equal access for people with hearing loss. You can read more about this here: CaptionCall and the ADA Fight for No-Cost Captioning.

AudiologyOnline: Why is IP CTS important?

Mr. DeMari: People who are hard-of-hearing are at a distinct disadvantage when communicating on the telephone compared to people with no hearing loss. Necessary visual cues needed for effective communication in-person are not available to the listener on a standard telephone. Captioned telephones quickly display the speech in text format to offer a viable functional solution to those with hearing loss. Hearing loss, if left untreated, has a significant impact on a person’s ability to stay connected. This inability makes face-to-face interactions difficult and using the telephone extremely frustrating which often leads to loneliness and isolation—the precursors for many serious health risks. 

Previously, you needed to have a landline or an internet connection to get captioned telephone service. But today, CaptionCall’s Internet Protocol Captioned Telephone Service (IP CTS), can provide captioned telephone service to people without internet. Read more here

captioned telephone

AudiologyOnline: Thanks! Sounds like there are a lot of great options. For more information, readers can click the links in this interview or visit


Recordings now available: Evidence-Based Research and Innovation in Hearing Healthcare | "Earn up to 4 hours online!

steve demari

Steve DeMari

Director of Business Development and Education

Steve Demari has a lifelong passion for the hearing care industry. He earned a master’s degree in audiology from Syracuse University, then completed a clinical and research audiologist fellowship at the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Long Beach, California. Prior to CaptionCall, Steve was Vice President of Sales and Account Management and Director of Audiology for United Healthcare Hearing, and Director of Government Services and Business Development for Phonak, Starkey, and Sivantos. He also was audiologist and manager for a wide demographic of medical and private practice clinics in Los Angeles and Chicago. Under his leadership, these companies and channels enjoyed market-share rise and team growth. Steve was also instrumental in launching the Universal Newborn Hearing Screening Program in Illinois. Steve is a member of the American Academy of Audiology and the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. He stays highly involved in the industry through several social networks and professional blogs.