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We talk so much about the importance of having your hearing checked, and providing help to your hearing when there is the need (with hearing aids) that it is easy to think that once you get a properly fit set of hearing aids that the problem is entirely solved. While hearing aids help immensely, there are still some situations where a hearing aid, no matter how advanced or expensive it was, cannot reproduce certain sounds and make it intelligible for the user.
That is where assistive listening devices and other assistive systems come in. They can provide that extra help when needed and it could mean the difference between the user being included and simply being left in the dark, so to speak. Much of the time, once we can get a patient using that assistive device, they wonder how they ever lived without it (much like their hearing aid!)
Although we can argue that technology has made our lives more complicated in some ways, there are many new and old technologies that can be utilized seamlessly in the users lives to enable them to be included in all activities a person with normal hearing is able to and best of all, it does not require any extra devices!
For example, a hearing loop system can be installed anywhere that a source of audio needs to be heard. A great example of this is in a place of worship. These places tend to be large open rooms with high ceilings, hard floors and widely differing quality of sound reproduction from the loud speakers. While someone is talking into a microphone, someone could be next to you coughing, another person whispering. At this point, even someone with good hearing can have trouble understanding what is being said. No hearing aid allows you to hear, crystal clear, the sound coming from the loud speaker.
Now, if there were a loop system, the user would simply activate the “t-coil” in their hearing aid(s) (almost every hearing aid we fit has a t-coil or access to one via a remote) and they would be wirelessly connected to the audio – it would stream directly into the users hearing aid(s). Although many places of worship have FM or infrared systems, they are seldom used and often times do not work properly.
The point of this blog post? There are many options available to help the hearing impaired other than just hearing aids, and it is worth the extra effort. Many barriers that still exist today, exist because the hearing impaired tend not to voice the fact that they are having trouble hearing and the problems go unnoticed. Ask your hearing healthcare professional about how you can hear better in situations where you might typically have problems and go one step further by educating a venue you cannot hear well in – they are more receptive to your input than you may think.