Question: Does anyone know of any device that can allow hands free use of a normal phone? Would also be useful if portable from one phone to another. If so, where such a device is available from?
Answer 1: BT publish a booklet called “The BT guide for people who are disabled or elderly”, with info on “products and services which will help people who have difficulties with speech, sight, hearing, mobility, or dexterity.” It’s free (the booklet, I mean), and you can get it by ringing 0800 800 150.
Answer 2: Yes, I work with Telecommunications, and I know of 5 or 6 different makes of hands free attachments. Unfortunately the trade names are probably different in the UK than here. Plantronics (US made) is the most common and top quality, but it is expensive. About NZ$400 (about UKP180). There are Chinese and Japanese ones that are much cheaper and almost as good. I have seen more than 20 models. Even cordless ones, that allow you to walk around the room with no cords. They fit into the jack point on the telephone where the handset normally is connected. Some telephones, and some hands free sets, have two connections so you can keep the handset connected. Some telephones you operate with buttons, other you have to take the handset off the cradle when you use the hands-free. There are even voice-operated telephones coming on the market now.
Answer 3: Many phones have a hands-free facility. They’re identified by a button on them marked so. Otherwise, ask a salesman in the shop.
Answer 4: If you have a “modular” phone (i.e. one where you can unplug the cable from the handset to the phone base) you can use a system from Plantronics. You unplug your handset, plug the Plantronics box into the phone base, plug the handset into the Plantronics unit, and finally a headset into the box. Then, you can choose to use the handset or headset, or even part way through a conversation switch over. It works well and the quality is good. Portable: well yes, but a bit fiddly to undo all those small clips. I would only consider it if you were going to use it in one place for more than a day or two at a time.
You can get them from:
POSTURITE (UK) LTD
P.O. Box 468, Hailsham, East Sussex. BN27 4LZ.
Tel: 01323 833353.