There are many situations where we need different kinds of hearing and therefore different solutions. I thought I’d look at some of these.
Driving in the car
As a deaf person, if I was in the back seat of the car I couldn’t have a conversation with anyone in the front seat. If I was in the front seat I couldn’t talk to anyone in the backseat. If I was the driver, since I only had hearing in my right ear (and that is the side to the traffic in Australia), I couldn’t have a discussion with even a front seat passenger.
So what solutions are there? Sometimes I would turn around to talk to a back seat passenger, but I couldn’t do that if I was driving. So I could usually train the rear vision mirror on the person in the backseat, while still seeing the driving conditions to the rear. This allowed me with quick glimpses to lip read the person talking. When I was the passenger in the front seat, I could lip read my husband –even side on, provided there was enough light. But it was extremely difficult in the dark – and all of these solutions had the propensity to make me car sick.
There are some solutions. Some hearing aids can have a lapel microphone attached to it either with a cord or wireless (blue tooth technology). This will allow you to move the microphone around the car and position it where you can pick up the speaker. When I had only one cochlear implant as the passenger I couldn’t hear (since I had my left ear implanted). I bought a longer cord so I could wear the processor on either ear.
Telephones – land lines and mobiles
Hearing on the telephone is so important and there are numerous solutions. Just some of these are - use a personal FM system, get sound through a wireless blue tooth neck loop, plug your hearing aid/processor directly into a phone, use your t’switch or use loudspeaker. Headsets of various kinds are available for many phones. Subtitled/captioned phones, Video phones and Skype computer technologies should allow you to lip read. When I am in the office sometimes I remove one of my processors to make sure I cut out background noise.
Of course you can simply turn up the sound – but then this may cause distortion not to mention how annoying it is for the other members of the family. The majority of programs are captioned and this can help with understanding. Some hearing aids and cochlear implant processors will allow you to plug direct into the television and a variety of FM/Blue Tooth/Wireless technologies are available. It is a matter of working out what works best for your television. Installing a hearing loop may be the answer. This allows you to use your t’switch for clear hearing.
Again it depends on your theatre. Captions are available for some movies. Our local cinema has just installed the Captiview system which gives each individual using the device, private captions (rather than public/open captions). Some theatres have hearing loops which can be heard using your t’switch – but you have to know where to sit. Walk around the cinema to find out the best place to hear. It’s not always the place the staff tell you are the best seats.
Sitting yourself in the right place to hear and follow as much as possible is always the first step. But there are other things such as using a microphone, ensuring no two people speak at the same time, and having a note taker or interpreter.
Knowing there are assistive listening devices which can help you is the first step to finding a solution. If you have difficulty in certain environments ask around. Ask others who have a hearing loss how they deal with that situation. You could be pleasantly surprised at how some simple things can make your life easier.