Hearing Assistive Technology: Beyond the Hearing Aid
Hearing aids may not solve all of your communication problems. You may still have difficulty hearing the television, your alarm clock, a knock on the door, callers on the telephone, events in an auditorium, or communication in an extremely noisy situation. Additional devices may be useful to extend hearing aids functionality.
What type of connectivity devices are available?
Small, discrete microphones can be worn by the talker in a variety of situations. The microphones pick up the talker’s voice and streams (sends) it either directly to the devices or to an intermediary device. The microphone allows the talker’s voice to be heard as if they are standing directly across from you even if they are up to 30’ away.
If you have trouble hearing the television, even while using with your hearing aids, and find you are turning up the volume of the TV too loud for others, you may want to consider the use of a TV streaming device. These devices are wireless and send the signal either directly to your hearing aids or an intermediary device. The use of this device allows the listener/hearing aid user to adjust the volume of the TV to their preferred levels without any impact on the loudness for the others.
Many hearing aids can connect directly to your smartphone or through an accessory, allowing you to hear the conversation through your hearing aids as if they were headphones. It also offers the advantage of hearing the telephone conversation using both ears rather than just one.
What type of alerting devices are available?
Hearing is not only used for communication, it allows you to stay in touch with your environment. Alerting devices can inform you of important signals, such as the doorbell, telephone, smoke and fire alarms, or an alarm clock. The ability to recognize these signals is important for your safety and independence, as well as the safety of others around you. Here are a few different types of alerting devices:
It is critical that you are aware when the fire/smoke alarm is signaling a potentially dangerous situation. A number of different types of smoke alarms are available to alert those who have a hearing loss. These include ones with an extra loud signal, flashing light, bed vibrator, or release of a smell. Work with your audiologist to determine the best system for you and your house.
Some devices allow the hearing aids to be programmed to announce that someone is at the door. If not, devices can be installed that flash a light, ring louder, or vibrate so you never miss the person at your door.
There are amplified alarm clocks that allow for a volume and pitch adjustment of the tone of the alarm to make it more audible for your hearing loss. Additionally, a small vibrator can be placed under your pillow or a light can be flashed to wake you up in the morning when your alarm goes off.
Where can I find these devices?
The connectivity devices can be obtained through your audiologist. Most of the alerting devices can be found on any number of websites. It is recommended that you search for the desired device and select specific device based on your needs or ask your audiologist to assists you in selecting the device most appropriate for your needs.