Assistive Hearing Devices
Though prescription hearing aids greatly improve the listening experience for many of our patients, there are times when additional help is necessary to help you hear your best. For example, you may experience more difficulty hearing while eating at a restaurant, during meetings, or while talking on the telephone. Additional help is available through Hearing Assistive Technology (HAT), Assistive Listening Devices (ALDs) and/or Hearing Aid Accessories.
HATs and Hearing Aid Accessories are specialized amplification, listening devices and accessories that are designed to aid in very specific, but not all, listening situations. In most cases, they deliver sounds directly to your ears or to your hearing aids for better performance and understanding.
HATs and accessories can help specifically with:
- Infrared devices, such as TV Ears
- FM systems (such as Roger Pen, Roger Select, Roger MyLink, FM Dex, etc.)
- Personal loop systems (which require that your hearing aid have a telecoil)
- Prescription hearing aid accessories (such as TV-DEX, TV Play, Unite TV, TV Connector, which work with newer hearing aids to stream the television directly to the hearing aids)
- Amplified telephones
- Speaker phones
- Captioned telephones (often requires simple/transparent use of relay system). These include phones from CAP TEL, Caption Call and ClearCaptions.
- Neckloops (require a telecoil on a hearing aid)
- Hearing aid streamers for mobile phones using Bluetooth (examples include Widex Com Dex, ReSound phone clip, Phonak iCom, Starkey Imobile).
- Hearing aid telephones (examples include Widex Phone-Dex and Phonak Phone Dect., which are a regular cordless phone that streams the phone signal directly to newer hearing aids).
Many new hearing aids have direct-to-smart phone capability through built-in Bluetooth options, allowing direct connectivity to the user’s smart phone.
These systems work with hearing aids that have a telecoil coupled with induction loop technology. This technology can deliver sound from a sound system directly to your hearing aids, turning them into personal speakers or receivers. The telecoil serves as the hearing aid’s “antennae,” receiving magnetic signals from the looping system. The magnetic signal is the only sound the hearing aid user hears, not the background noise. This creates a crisper and clearer signal for the user and a more enjoyable listening experience. In addition, the hearing aid picks up the sound directly from the source, overcoming the effects of distance. The loop must be installed physically in the environment in order to utilize it.
Kansas and Missouri Telecommunications Access Program (TAP)
Associated Audiologists is a provider for the Kansas TAP Program and assists with applications for both Kansas and Missouri TAP programs. This program provides vouchers for specialized telephone equipment and signaling devices for individuals with disabilities who need assistance in using the telephone and who reside in the states of Kansas or Missouri. To apply for a TAP voucher, talk with your audiologist. Learn more about Assistive Technology for Kansans or Missouri Assistive Technology. We can also assist you in recommending and completing applications for captioned phones from CAP TEL, CaptionCall, and ClearCaptions.
Devices are available that can assist in increasing your awareness and detection of sounds in the home, including but not limited to the telephone ringing, someone knocking on the door or ringing the doorbell, the alarm clock, the fire/smoke alarm, or a baby monitor. Talk with your audiologist to see if you might benefit from this technology. You may also be able to consult with your local fire department for fire/smoke alarms that can help you if you experience hearing loss. To learn more, read our blog on smoke alarms and fire safety.
Many different types of hearing assistive technology can help you enjoy the theater, including:
- Induction loop systems
- FM systems
- Infrared systems
- Closed captioning
Individual needs for hearing assistive technology vary widely. Be sure to discuss your lifestyle and hearing needs with your audiologist, who will be happy to review your hearing assistive technology options with you.