Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Just 5 Cellphone: Will It Really Be Useful for the Deaf?

Just 5 is a new cellphone aimed at the market of people who want a simple, no-frills phone that can make calls and text. CNET has an article up about the phone that seems pretty skeptical about its intended markets, and I think I have to remain skeptical as well.

You see, the markets Just 5 is apparently targeting with this simple phone are "seniors, children, and the vision- and hearing-impaired" (from the CNET article). For seniors and children, they cite the ease of use of the phone. For the vision impaired, the phone has large buttons and a large contrasting screen. And for the hard of hearing? Well, the Just5 "is loud and clear, up to 100db" (from their website).

Now, I keep my phone's volume all the way up as it is, and yes, sometimes it's not loud enough. But a voice simply being louder is not enough for good communication. A voice must be clear. They say it's clear, but at 100 dB, how clear can a voice really be? Not to mention that repeated exposure to sounds over 85 dB can actually cause further hearing loss. I hope they have some mechanisms in place to avoid that. I mean, 100dB is how loud a freeway is.

I don't know. I'm deaf, and I would not want this phone. Not all people who have a hearing loss can get by simply with a louder phone or texting. I'm deaf, and I'm a geek, too. That means I want the latest and greatest tech - I want to be able to use Google Voice with my phone (which is why I'm drooling over an Android phone like the Droid), watch videos, and listen to music with my Bluetooth-enabled Streamer. I want cool stuff like the mobile VRS service announced at the NAD conference.

There are probably deaf people out there who want a no-frills phone and that's fine, but I question if simply making the phone louder can really fill that niche.


  1. I think their target audience is really the seniors. Note that many folks start to loose their hearing as they get older and not all of them are willing to accept the fact that they may need a hearing aid. They will instead look for alternate solutions that will amplify sounds for them but is "Not a hearing aid". The big large buttons are for those of course that can't see well as I have often heard many seniors complain about cell phones tiny buttons.

    Last but not least it doesn't have a whole bunch of features which means it's not a confusing phone for them to use. Some seniors embrace technology while a lot of them fear it and avoid it. This phone works a lot like a normal cordless phone which is probably what some would prefer.

    I agree with you that the amplified hearing may be too loud and could hurt their ears but my wife used to have a regular phone that amplified just as loud that she would use by taking out her hearing aids.

    Great article and I can tell you did your research.

  2. A no-frills device that costs $20 to buy and $20 per month with no contract is the Peek. It sends and receives only email and has a full QWERTY keyboard. For $60 to buy and $20 per month it can also IM people. I've used it and it has its drawbacks but for people who only need occasional contact it seems fine. (
    Disclaimer: I have no financial ties to this device or the company.

  3. Dianrez: Thanks for the info about the Peek; I'd never heard of that one.

    Techgeekdad: Yes, that is true. I think this would be a great phone for those who just want a phone, especially if their support is good. The phone looks nice too. Just have some worries about the volume.

  4. For those who concerned about the phone volume - it is adjustable, so don't be afraid to become deaf from using this phone - it's not gonna happen.

  5. At least, as long as you pay attention. :) I know I might automatically just turn it all the way up out of habit without realizing how loud 100 DB really is.

  6. I will admit it can be dangerous especially if someone else picks up the phone. I mentioned earlier about my wifes old house phone that was amplified. She would always leave the volume cranked up to full and I would have a big shock if I would answer it. Hello? AHHH!!!

  7. I just found your review of the Oticon aids and wanted to say thank you and note that it was very useful for someone like myself who will be going in for a hearing test and to be fitted for his first pair of hearing aids at age 71. Wow Hearing Aids Needham MA

  8. What a lot of information. Thank you all.

  9. My grandma is using this Just5 cell phone and as far as she is concerned, she loves using it. She already has hearing problems and the phone’s amplified sound make it easier for her to communicate. Though this phone has only basic functions, this is something that she cannot live without. The phone’s PERS features are simply amazing that she can contact help anywhere she is when she is in an emergency. Also, she pays 10 dollars only to Just5 every month for her basic and no-contract prepaid plan. I found this phone at

  10. does this phone have the capability to send and receive text massages?

  11. I apologize - I accidentally clicked Delete on this comment below instead of Publish. The comment below is one I received in my inbox and is published below as it came to me in the email.


    Hello Megan,

    We’re glad to have learned about your doubt about the capability of the Just5 amplified cell phone to provide a clear communication to the hearing impaired individuals. We would like to take this as an opportunity to help you be enlightened about your concern.

    Basically, making the sound louder is the simplest solution to improve the experience of a hearing impaired person when communicating using a phone. By amplifying the sound of a phone, the hearing capacity of a hearing impaired person becomes similar to a person with a normal hearing. When the sound is more amplified, the more it becomes understandable as well to a hearing impaired person.

    With regards to clarity, Just5 was carefully designed to have an excellent sound quality. So the sound it gives out is guaranteed to be both loud and clear. This claim is supported by the written reviews about Just5.

    We hope that by citing these details, we were able to gain your confidence about the capability of our phone to deliver a clearer communication experience to the hearing impaired. If you have added questions, please feel free to email us at and we would be glad to answer them.

    Ruth Peñafiel
    Business Development Representative


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