Assistive technology can help with hearing loss
Published 6:45 pm, Wednesday, September 7, 2011
Most of the patients I see are candidates for hearing aids as the most appropriate solution to their communication problems.
Some may need assistive devices instead of, or in addition to, hearing aids.
One of the ways people first notice hearing loss is by how loud the TV needs to be. This can be frustrating and annoying to a family.
For this situation, one of the best products is TV Ears, a system that transmits the signal to a headset worn by the user.
The individual can then adjust the needed volume personally while it remains normal for others.
This can be easily installed at home and hooked up to audio output jacks or the external speakers.
In evaluating telephone use, there are several options. The first, and easiest, is an amplified phone.
This means there is an adjustable volume control so each family member can use the phone at the appropriate loudness level.
Another option is a phone with a speaker function.
This allows the listener to use both ears to hear the voice and often provides a significant improvement in clarity and understanding.
This works with or without hearing aids.
Many hearing aids can be programmed with a special setting for telephone use, which may provide increased gain and understanding.
This telecoil/T-coil uses an electromagnetic signal so there is no whistling or feedback when the phone is held up to the ear.
There are some people with such a severe to profound loss and/or such very poor speech understanding they cannot function with only an auditory signal.
Day-to-day, they rely on lipreading to provide additional speech information.
This visual component is not available on the phone.
A newer type of phone is a captioned phone, which has a screen that also displays in written text what the person is saying, and you speak normally back to them.
The calls go through a free relay service that automatically connects on outgoing calls.
Family and friends can be given the relay number so they can have the incoming calls visible.
Ask your hearing professional if any of these, or similar devices, would improve your quality of life.
Veralyn Davee is an audiologist at Hearing Aid Specialists in New Milford.