There are several significant differences between basic
residential wireline telephones and basic business wireline telephones:
- Business telephones often include a small display of
incoming numbers, outgoing numbers, calls on hold, etc. This may reduce the ability of people who
are blind or have low vision to use them if the displayed information is not
available any other way.
- Business telephones are more often multi-line. This means that the desired line (for
answering or placing a call) must be selected by the user. Almost all of these telephones use a visual
display to indicate free and active lines, either through the LCD display or
status indicator lights placed next to the line control buttons.
- Business telephones often connect to proprietary networks
such as PBXs; residential phones usually connect directly to the public
network. PBXs are covered
elsewhere, but it
should be understood that the interaction between telephone sets and PBXs are
so tightly integrated as to be indistinguishable by the user. That is, any given feature may be turned on
or off by programming the telephone or the PBX. For the purpose of this Report, they should be considered
- Business telephones are often rich in features. This may mean that they may be able to
address more of the Access Board Guidelines, as it may be possible to show call
information in different ways, or to program a phone to operate in a more
usable manner. However, this may also
increase their complexity to a point where it the product would not be able to
address Guideline 1193.41(i) Operable with limited cognitive skills. See the Section on PBXs and
the Appendix on Computer Telephony
- Business telephones are not usually selected by the employee him- or herself,
often because they are part of an integrated telephone system with limited
choices in telephones. The range of access solutions may be narrower in the business
environment than for the typical residential customer.
Any given business telephone/PBX combination may have only a few choices,
which may not meet the needs of a particular employee or public user.
This means that access considerations for business telephones should
be even more important in the design process, and that businesses and public
institutions should be attentive to access issues when they specify or purchase
their telephone systems. Note that improvements in the design of business
telephone systems is the intention of Section 255; employers are already required
to provide their employees with reasonable accommodations (including telephones)
under Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
A user with low vision:
They had picked that phone system before I got there, of
course. So I have to make do with
it. I can only use the most basic
features and I had to tell the receptionist to only forward me calls on one
line because I cant use the line lights.
Hearing Aid Compatibility (HAC) and Volume Control
Business wireline telephones are covered by the Hearing Aid
Compatibility Act and subsequent Federal Communications Commission rules. See Guidelines 1193.43(e) and
More and more business telephones are digital.
A digital line cannot connect directly with a TTY, although a TTY with
acoustic couplers and a digital wireline phone can still connect through the
TTYs acoustic couplers. One problem here is that few business telephones have the conventional
round handset. This may cause acoustic
coupling problems: not enough sound goes between the phone and the TTY, and
too much sound goes from the immediate environment into the TTY.
This can cause garbling of the text, especially in noisy areas.
Rubber adapters are available as assistive technology for some types
of handsets. Several products are
available to connect analog equipment (such as fax machines) to a digital line.
These are offered by the PBX manufacturer and several aftermarket companies.
TTYs can work with these accessories, as it is neither safe nor effective
to connect an analog TTY directly to a digital line, even if the connectors
match. In addition to allowing
direct connection to TTYs, these adapters permit TTY users to have ring signalers,
answering machines, and any other analog devices attached to their lines.
Guidelines Addressed Generically
1193.41(c) Operable with little or no color perception.
1193.41(h) Operable without speech.
1193.43(f) Prevention of visually-induced seizures.
1193.43(h) Non-interference with hearing technologies.
1193.43(i) Hearing aid coupling [by HAC Order].
1193.51(c) Compatibility with prosthetics.
1193.51(e) TTY signal compatibility (except digital lines --