If your loved one has trouble hearing, there are a wide range of assistive devices that can help. For someone who suffers from mild to severe hearing loss, these devices can makes day-to-day-life easier and more enjoyable, and help them communicate more effectively with others.
Hearing aids are tiny instruments worn in or behind the ear. They make sounds louder – however, things sound different when a hearing aid is worn. To find the right hearing aid that works best for your loved one, he or she may have to try more than one. Ask your audiologist whether you can have a trial period with a few different hearing aids.
Amplified telephones allow people with hearing loss to have telephone conversations. Some devices come equipped with flashing lights that indicate when the phone is ringing, adjustable volume controls, frequency emphasis to adjust the pitch of the phone call and large number for easy dialing. In addition, many products include a T-Switch that uses electro-magnetic coupling to allow a person to use their hearing aids as their telephone amplifier.
If your loved one wears a hearing aid, ask your telephone company about getting a phone with an amplifying coil (T-coil). If the hearing aid is in the "T" position, this coil is activated when you pick up the phone. It allows your loved one to listen at a comfortable volume and helps lessen background noise. You can also buy a special type of telephone receiver and other devices to make sounds louder on the phone.
Mobile Phone Amplifying Devices
To help people who use a T-coil hear better on mobile phones, an amplifying device called a loopset is available. The wire loop goes around the neck and connects to the mobile phone. The loop transmits speech from the phone to the hearing aid in the ear. It also helps get rid of background noise to make it easier to talk in a noisy environment.
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These systems take sound and convert them into infra-red light waves. They are frequently used with televisions and in theaters. The transmitter takes the sound and transmits it to the individual wearing the receiver. The volume can then be individually adjusted. These systems can be used independently or can be coupled to a hearing aid with a T Switch.
Signal Alerting Devices
These systems are used to signal the presence of sound in the environment. If a person with a hearing loss is anxious that they might miss the telephone or doorbell ring, they can use a signal alerting device to either flash a light in the home or cause vibrations that can be felt by the person with hearing loss.
Personal Listening Systems
Personal listening systems help your loved one hear what they want to hear while eliminating or lowering other noises around them. Direct audio input hearing aids are hearing aids that can be plugged into TVs, stereos, microphones, auditory trainers, and personal FM systems to help your loved one hear better.
A cochlear implant is a small electronic device that can help "make" sound. The implant does the job of the damaged or absent nerve cells that in a normal ear make it possible to hear. Cochlear implants can be programmed according to the person's degree of hearing loss.
Cochlear implants have three parts: a headpiece, a speech processor, and a receiver. The headpiece includes a microphone and a transmitter. It is worn just behind the ear where it picks up sound and sends it to the speech processor, a beeper-sized device that can fit in your pocket or on a belt. The speech processor converts the sound into a special signal that is sent to the receiver. The receiver, a small round disc about the size of a quarter that a surgeon places under the skin behind one ear, sends a sound signal to the brain. Because it involves surgery, cochlear implants are meant for people who have profound or severe hearing loss.