Assistive Technology

phone-dex USC, only Canada and USA

There are many devices, either in addition to hearing aids or instead of hearing aids, that can enhance one’s hearing in different situations. Sometimes the hearing loss is so severe that everyday sounds may not be heard loud enough to get the person’s attention–these are called Alerting Devices. Alerting Devices may include smoke alarms, alarm clocks, door bells, etc. They may be louder than usual and may also have either a light or vibrator attached to get the person’s attention.

Other options can be for specific devices:

  • Television – A lot of people know about “TV Ears” these days…the headsets that allow you to listen to the TV at any level. There is a box connected to the audio out of the television and the headset is usually wireless and worn in both ears. Others can set the television at any volume or mute and the one wearing the “TV Ears” headset has a volume control on the headset. This works great, except when you want to walk around or have a conversation with other people in the same room and you can’t because you can’t have your hearing aids on at the same time.

    Now, most hearing aids now have the ability to have wireless technology for television listening as well! It allows you to continue wearing your hearing aids, walk around the house, carry-on conversations with family and friends, AND still hear your favorite program in both your ears! At the same time, your family and friends can have the television at whatever volume they want or need.
  • Mobile Phones – Every hearing aid manufacturer now has an option to add wireless connection to their advanced hearing aids. Most of the time there is an accessory that allows the hearing aids and cell phones to talk to each other. Even some older hearing aids, without BlueTooth technology, may be able to connect to cell phones. There are various solutions for you to use with your cell phone.
  • Landline Phones – There is a new landline phone available that will directly connect to some hearing aids without the push of any buttons or switches on the hearing aid. This phone still works like any other phone for other family members as well.
  • T-coil Induction Loop System – While the t-coil may be most widely known as the telephone system, it can and often is used for listening within a “looped” environment. If your hearing aid or cochlear implant has a t-coil setting, you can use that setting at a public place that has been looped for the hearing impaired (which would be indicated with the universal symbol of an ear with a line through it). The November Theatre in Richmond is looped and also has headsets available for those who do not have hearing aids, but need assistance hearing: http://va-rep.org/hearing.html.

FM Systems are an attachment to the hearing aids and are to be used for improving the speech signal within a noisy environment. Ideally, the system involves a remote microphone that speaker holds or wears so that the speech is more amplified than any of the surrounding sounds. This is also helpful when the speaker is at a sizable distance such as in church, a meeting, or school.