Hearing aids special features
Most digital hearing aids have the option of having additional programmes added to the standard programme which is set for most listening situations you encounter. By having extra programmes the hearing aid can be more flexible in a specific situation, for example in background noise.
Directional microphones/noisy situations
Two microphones work as a pair to help the hearing aid to focus on sound coming from in front of the listener and to reduce sound coming from behind the listener. This setting does not remove background noise completely and requires the listener to think about their own communication. They may need to think about where the speaker they are listening to is sat and adjust their own position to gain the most benefit from their hearing aids.
The loop system/telecoil
The loop system or telecoil is a special kind of microphone system designed for hearing aid users. It is commonly found in public buildings including banks, post offices, churches and theatres among many more. If a building has a loop system they will display a sign – see right.
To pick up sound from the loop system, the hearing aid wearer has to switch their hearing aid to a specific setting. If the hearing aid has a T (pure telecoil) setting, the listener will pick up only the loop system. If the hearing aid has an MT (half microphone and half telecoil) setting, the listener will pick up a combination of the loop system and the normal microphone setting.
Signs often tell the listener to switch to the ‘T’ setting – this refers back to the days of analogue hearing aids and some earlier digital hearing aids which had a specific loop system switch labelled ‘T’. Many more recent digital hearing aids have a button with multiple settings which is pressed a set number of times to access the loop or ‘T’ setting.
Remember to switch back to ‘normal listening’ setting after finishing using the loop system or you may not be able to hear clearly.
By developing music programmes, patients may be able to appreciate the quality of music more effectively when wearing hearing aids. There are various strategies that your Audiologist may apply to try to improve the quality of music within your hearing aid programming. These changes will alter how the hearing aid reacts – normally a hearing aid aims to optimise the perception of speech stimuli, settings which may not be optimal for listening to music. Some hearing aids already have this option available and your Audiologist may just need to select this option within the programming.
Some hearing aids have a specific setting (that like the music program above) which is optimised for listening to something other than a basic speech sound. Telephone signals do not cover the whole range of speech sounds and so the hearing aid may need to be adjusted to take this into account. Again there may already be a pre-available setting your Audiologist can select or they may be able to make adjustments to your aid to help with this. Some digital hearing aids have an automatic telephone setting that is switched on when a telephone is held next to the ear and switched off when the telephone is removed again.
There is no right or wrong with the telephone. Some people use telephones with their normal hearing aid setting, some use a telephone setting or the loop system with a special telephone. Others choose to use just an amplified telephone with or without their hearing aid. Regardless of the hearing aid and telephone method chosen, a listener is likely to find improved sound with the telephone when the receiver is held next to their hearing aid rather than their ear and ear mould.
Compatibility with other devices
With the constant improvements in digital technology and the more widespread use of Bluetooth and other wireless technologies, it was only time before this made its way into the world of hearing aids.
Several hearing aid manufacturers now produce devices that can be used with their hearing aids to allow wireless connection to various devices including mobile telephones, televisions and other digital electronic devices allowing the hearing aids to pick up sound input directly from these devices.
Some hearing aids (not currently available through the NHS) actually have bluetooth technology built into the hearing aid itself, allowing the same kind of connections, but without the need for a separate device.
C2Hear Online is a series of short, interactive, multimedia videos about hearing aids, hearing loss and communication. These videos have been shown to provide a range of benefits by a high-quality research study. For more information visit http://www.hearing.nihr.ac.uk/research/c2Hearonline
Visit Listening Devices for the Deaf to learn more about listening devices which are used in association with a hearing aid.
Hearing loop sign: thanks to Contacta.