A couple of weeks have passed since I was fitted with my new “dolbies”, aka hearing aids. I am more used to them than when I first wrote about them here but I am still not completely at ease with them.
They certainly make the world a noisier place to live in but I am not convinced that they have really helped with the difficulty I was having with understanding people talking to me. I still have to ask people to repeat, despite the fact that I can now hear the clock ticking and Freya purring on my lap. When I speak, it’s rather like talking with my fingers in my ears. It takes some getting used to.
I was warned that it takes the brain 4 to 5 weeks to get used to the new sound system. This may be why I am still having trouble understanding speech: all sounds have equal value and speech often gets washed out by traffic noise, radio, other people’s conversations, etc. When you have normal hearing, the brain is selective about what you actually hear. Unwanted sounds (“noise”) get pushed into the background of consciousness and you hear only the meaningful sounds (“signal”). At the moment I hear noise and signal all at the same level so if someone is speaking to me, any noise blanks out their words.
The digital hearing aids that I have are Spirit 3 by Oticon. These are known to make it difficult to use a mobile phone. The specialist told me that there was a Bluetooth adaptor available for this model but according to Oticon, there is not. So what is the solution? Pulling out one of your hearing aids every time the phone rings is obviously not the answer as, apart from anything else, you could drop it and damage it.
As far as I can see, there are two solutions, one cheap and one not so cheap. A tip for hearing aid uses (if you don’t already know this) is to visit at the RNID Web site. They sell a range of useful products, including devices to make phone use easier.
The solution to the “mobile problem” depends essentially on the ‘t’ (Telecoil) setting of your hearing aid. This is the setting you use when, for example, you go to the railway ticket office or post office and see the deaf ear symbol stuck to the window.
The first solution is to buy what looks like a wire hands-free set. This plugs into your mobile phone and has two hooks that go over your ears beside the microphone part of the hearing aid and communicates with it through the Telecoil system. An example is shown here. The advantages of this system are cheapness and simplicity but the disadvantage is the need to plug in your phone whenever you make or receive a call.
The second solution involves wearing a wire loop around your neck which sets up a ‘t’ field that interacts with your hearing aid when you switch this to the ‘t’ setting. The loop includes a dongle that communicates with your mobile via Bluetooth. The advantage of this system is that no physical connection is needed between the loop and the phone and that the phone can be up to 10 metres away and still communicate through the loop. The main disadvantage is cost. An example of this type of device can be seen here.
I have to say that I haven’t yet tried either of these devices. The Bluetooth version looks to be the most elegant solution but the cost is enough to make me hesitate. On the other hand, my hearing is never going to get any better so in that sense, the expense might be well worthwhile.