ASSISTIVE LISTENING TECHNOLOGY
Although hearing aids are helpful in many listening
environments, there are still certain situations where additional technology
may be helpful. Some environments where even the most advanced hearing aids may
still be limited include noisy classrooms, parties, and lecture halls with poor
sound systems. Additionally, there are now devices which can act as an
interface in between your cell phone and your hearing aids; this helps a
listener utilize “hands free” cell phone use.
The use of technology may be scary for some patients who do not consider themselves tech savvy. An audiologist can show you how simple using these accessories can be and how much they can help in difficult listening environments.
Mini Mic/FM system
One way to help overcome excessive room noise is to utilize a mini microphone of FM system in addition to your hearing aids. You communicative partner can clip this accessory on his or her shirt, or place on the table. This allows for sound to be streamed directly from an external microphone to the patient’s hearing aid and helps to reduce both room noise interference and the distance between listener and speaker.
Hearing aids and accessories now have Bluetooth capabilities to stream sounds to any electronics that utilize a Bluetooth connection. Accessories can be easily linked to your computer, television, and/or telephone for ease of listening.
Bluetooth technology is short-range wireless radio technology that allows electronic devices to connect to one another. Bluetooth technology can be used for cross communication where sound processing is synchronized between your two hearing aids. Both hearing aids communicate in order to adjust to your listening situation and ensure balance between the ears. One control or push button on the hearing aid or remote can be used to adjust both hearing aids at the same time.
Bluetooth compatible devices include: hearing aids, mobile phones, MP3 players, FM devices, and televisions. A digital Bluetooth signal is extracted from the noise. This means that the signal alone is transmitted and amplified while noise is rejected, resulting in a clear signal. These products allow wireless connection between your hearing aids and other communication and entertainment devices.
Like other electronic devices, hearing aids can come with a remote control. Remotes can be used to adjust the volume, change programs, switch between modes (microphones, telecoil), and may indicate battery status. The most recent advancement in technology allows the hearing aid user to change the polar plot (see directional microphones) design of their microphones through a remote. Remotes can be pocket-sized, can attach to a keychain, or can be built into a watch. One manufacturer allows you to change volume and programs by using the telephone keypad.
For patients with poor speech clarity and understanding, closed caption devices are available to help with telephone communication.
Other assistive devices:
- Amplified baby monitors (with video display and visual alerting systems)
- Amplified smoke detectors
- Amplified and vibrating alarm clocks
- Amplified stethoscopes for those in the medical field
- Portable amplified telephone adapters