Meandering Through A Hearing World
Technological Hearing Help
I love learning about new hearing technologies and devices. I am a member of Hearing Loss Association of America and as a member, I receive their wonderful magazine, Hearing Life. The January-February 2019 issue is filled with articles and advertisements about hearing loss devices, issues and how to resolve or cope with them. In the current issue of the New Year, there is one article, titled; Bluetooth A Mouthful of Opportunities, which explains how Bluetooth technology has changed and how it impacts those of us with hearing loss.
In the article, authors Kevin Franck and Margaret Gregowicz, both PhD audiologists, discuss wireless technology. They sprinkle the article with a bit of history, telling us how hearing professionals never looked at hearing devices working with one another. Franck and Gregowicz allude to the fact that Bluetooth technology has allowed a “bridge to form” between devices, thus creating more hearing opportunities and options. For instance, cellular wireless, Wi-Fi, t-coils, FM systems, hearing aids, and cochlear implants have all been around for a while. Less than ten years ago, it was never believed that these devices could work together to produce a hearing system. Now we know that many of these devices and technologies can work in tandem with hearing aids and other listening devices, and cholear implants.
When purchasing my first hearing aid nearly thirty years ago, I never dreamed that someday I would be able to pair them to my phone. Now anyone with Made for IPhone hearing devices can connect to a phone, iPad, computer, and television with a click of their hearing aid or cochlear implant manufacturers’ app. I remember being evaluated for a cochlear implant a few years ago and was astounded to learn that my remaining hearing aid and new cochlear implant could be made to work as one system, pairing with all my apple devices.
For non-apple users, there are also many, many options. For instance the article discusses Audio Streaming for Hearing Aids, a protocol Google put out in 2018 that allows users to use their android devices with their hearing aids. Another hearing aid manufacturer developed a Hands-Free Profile, which allows even the users of some types of old-style flip phones to pair with certain hearing devices. To see if your hearing aids, cochlear implants or other hearing devices are compatible, go to their manufacturer’s website and the information should be there. If it isn’t, ask your audiologist or do a google search for the two devices you want to pair.
If you like to keep up with technology or if you’d like to learn more about hearing loss and how to cope, visit www.hearingloss.org, the web address of the Hearing Loss Association of America. The Florida Chapter’s Website www.hla-fl.org also contains much information about options available locally.
Hearing loss technology has made many advances. This fills me with hope. Perhaps there will come a day when those of us who suffer from hearing loss will have a better and greater chance at connecting with the hearing world.