A common question I hear as a doctoral resident is, “If I am paying for hearing aids, why should I put forth an extra cost for assistive listening accessories.” First, it is important to remember that hearing aids are a prosthetic device that do not restore normal hearing. Secondly, the way we perceive sound is not only affected by hearing loss but the acoustic quality of the environment.
So, why are accessoriy devices important? First, they eliminate the poor acoustics of the environment. What does this mean? When sound is propagated into the environment it bounces off the walls, is absorbed by the carpet, decreases with distance, etc. Each of these factors combined will affect how we perceive sound which is typically described as decreased volume. Hearing aids do not eliminate the acoustics of the environment, they increase our chances of having access to sound. With the employment of hearing aid accessories, the environment will not decrease your perception of the sound because the signal will be transmitted directly to your ears.
What type of assistive accessories are available?
- Benefit: Remote microphones are not worn by the patient but by the speaker they wish to hear. For instance, if you find that you often struggle in noisy environments such as restaurants due to surrounding background noise, the remote microphone can be worn by your attending party. These are very small devices that can be clipped on the collar of the individual’s shirt and their voice will stream directly to the patient’s hearings aid.
- Distance: These devices have an operating range of up to 30 feet from the paired hearing aid devices.
- Benefit: Table mics are more ideal for group settings when you need an increased ability to hear various talkers in a difficult listening environment versus one.
- Distance: These devices have an operating range of up to 100 feet from the paired hearing aid devices.
- Benefit: Even with hearing aids, many patients still struggle to communicate on the telephone. One of the reasons is that when talking on a telephone, the sound is being processed by two speakers (the telephone speaker and speaker of the hearing aid) which can affect the overall sound quality. By incorporating a phone clip, rather than the sound being processed by two speakers, the call will stream directly to the hearing aids, therefore the sound is only processed by one speaker versus two.
- Distance: These devices have an operating range of 30 feet from paired hearing aid devices.
- Benefit: As with the telephone, even with hearing aids, many patients still struggle with television. The same idea as the telephone applies to television as well. Additionally, as TVs become larger, we tend to increase the distance between us, and the television and the sound source is typically located in the back of television. All of these factors combined will affect how we perceive sound.
- Distance: These devices have an operating range of up to 50 feet from paired hearing aid devices
Putting forth an extra cost for an hearing aid accessories is a big commitment. However, if it increases your overall quality of life, why not give it a try? At Gardner Audiology, we loan the above devices for two weeks to determine if it increases your hearing aid benefit. Have more questions? Contact us at gardneraudiology.com or 1-800-277-1182.