Hearing aids are becoming more and more advanced each year. Manufacturers spend countless hours and dollars conducting research about what people with hearing loss need assistance with the most, and which situations tend to create the most difficult listening environments. Many times the use of hearing aids in general is all a person may need to drastically improve their lives and communication with family and friends. Other times, there are specific situations which still prove to be problematic, in which case there are a multitude of accessories that can be used in conjunction with your hearing aids to provide added benefit.
Currently, hearing aids are becoming more and more smartphone compatible, but not all have a hearing aid that is capable of utilizing this new technology, and others don’t have the correct version of smartphone. In these cases many manufacturers provide an accessory that can ensure your hearing aid will be able to communicate with your cell phone. Phonak, for example, has a device called a ComPilot. When you would like to stream your cell phone to your hearing aids, you place the loop (shown on the left) around your neck, and your cell phone is paired via bluetooth to the Compilot, which converts this signal to something your hearing aids can understand. This allows you to use almost all bluetooth compatible cell phones and have your calls go directly to your hearing aids.
Other manufacturers have similar options, including ReSound’s Phone Clip and Starkey’s Surflink Mobile, which do not require a loop to be worn around the neck, but instead can be clipped to one’s shirt or held within a pocket or purse.
Another popular hearing aid accessory is a TV streamer. Exactly as it sounds, this type of device will stream audio from your television to your hearing aids, wirelessly. It comes typically with a small box that is hooked directly to your TV and your Audiologist activates your hearing aids to be able to access that connection (either with a button, remote, or phone app typically) and enables you to listen to your TV at a comfortable level without disrupting those around you. You can even have your TV muted all together!
Finally, there are a wide range of remote microphones that are of great use to many patients. Depending on the manufacturer, there are some that are “fixed directional” microphones, something that you could use as a lapel microphone or in some cases even point towards the person you are trying to listen to. Others are “omni directional” which means they pick up sounds evenly in a sphere around their microphone. Some devices can even switch between these two microphone styles depending on the orientation of the device itself or a programmed button. Patients find these devices to be quite useful if they are listening to a speech or religious service in which they are further away from the speaker, in a classroom setting, during a conference call in a board room full of co-workers, or when they are in the presence of a lot of background noise and need an extra boost. They are quite versatile, and provide a better signal to noise ratio for the patient in difficult listening environments.
Every brand of hearing aid has their own line of corresponding accessories and options. If you are interested in discussing which accessories are available for you hearing aid and situational needs, please contact our office today at (816) 478-3008.