Wearing hearing aids or Cochlear Implant processors certainly improve our hearing. But there are still many situations where we cannot hear as well as we need or would like. The microphones on hearing aids and processors have limitations in range. This means situations such as attending meetings, theatre, cinema or even watching television at home can be difficult because we arenít close enough to the sound source.
Assistive Listening Devices, as they are called, come in many forms. They are designed to fit one of four listening situations.
(1) Communicating in person (face-to-face) including meetings and so on
(2) Using media (television, DVDs, cinema, radio, theatre, cinema)
(4) Environmental sounds (birds, traffic, alarms)
The kind of device which will work for you depends on what kind of hearing aid or processor you have as well as the listening situation you need to improve. Devices are expensive and some require specialist installation. Sometimes we install the device and it doesnít work but weíre not sure whether it is us (our hearing) or did we install it correctly. There is no one around to help us work it out because we need another person with a hearing loss to test it.
Most of us want to try the device before we buy. Even when you visit a company which sells these products so often you canít try them. Even if you can try them itís on their equipment not yours so thereís no guarantee you are going to get it to work at home. However, most companies have a return policy Ė if the device wonít work for you then you can return it in its original packaging. (But this is a lot of bother.)
What should you look for?
You might like to visit Better Hearing Institute and read this article Assistive Listening Devices. Itís comprehensive and discusses what types of devices are available and may help you find out what could work for you.
Make a list of the times and places when you canít hear as well as you need. Then make a list of your equipment. Remember you wonít be able to solve every issue but solving some will be a bonus.
ē Watching Television. I can hear if the volume is loud but this is too loud for my husband
ē Using the phone. I canít use the phone because I canít keep the ear piece in place over my implant processor microphone while trying to write at the same time, plus my hands free buzzes if I use it with Tswitch
Now make a list of your devices.
ē Freedom Cochlear Implant Processor
ē LG Digital flat screen TV with a DVD player running through a Digital Set-top Box
ē Uniden hands free fixed line telephone receiver
Finding assistive listening devices for the example
A Cochlear Implant Television cord can be plugged into the tv audio output (banana plug adapters required). It plugs straight to the Freedom processor and the wearer can control their own sound and her husband can have the volume he wants.
A tswitch extension cord solves the buzzing problem but also gives handsfree access so you can write in your diary without having to keep the phone over the microphone
Search company web-sites
Listing all the websites for Assistive Listing Devices would be too difficult because you need a place near you. Use Google to search Assistive Listening Devices in your area. However, here are a few companies which provide a good variety of items and for some of them you can order on-line or by phone.
(1) HATIS (http://www.hatis.com/products.shtml) HATIS specialises in connecting people with hearing aids to telephones. But of course their devices can be used in other situations: Worldwide
(2) Word of Mouth Technology (http://www.wom.com.au) Word of Mouth Technology is in Australia and has a wide range of devices for many listening situations not just when you are wearing your hearing aid/processor:
(3) Sound Clarity is in the USA and can be found at (http://www.soundclarity.com)
(4) Harris Communications is worldwide (http://www.harriscomm.com)
If would like more specific information about assistive listening devices for use with a Cochlear Implant please email me.