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HLAA Webinar – Today!

Every month the Hearing Loss Association of America hosts a Webinar.  This is an online presentation you can watch live on your computer and also type in questions.  They are very good and informative.  If you miss one, they are archived and you can go back and watch it.

If you’d like to learn more about Hearing Loops, today’s speaker is Ken Hollands and his topic is  “Hearing Loops: Technical Basics.”  Become a resource to your house of worship, organization or favorite theater!  Watch it today!

May 26, 2011 4:00pm PST/7:00pm EDT
It’s free so register today!

View Transcripts or Replay Webinars

Hearing Aid Feature #5 – Integrated Bluetooth Neckloop

#5 Integrated Bluetooth neckloop – I talked about this in my last post, but to summarize, if you purchase hearing aids that have a Bluetooth neckloop as an optional accessory, it is ideal.  Since the neckloop is integrated with your hearing aids, you do not have to touch your hearing aids to use it.  No need to switch to t-coil mode.  Phone rings?  Push one button on the neckloop and you are connected.  Watching TV and the phone rings?  No problem.  TV sound will automatically stop and you can answer the phone.  Here are some pictures of Bluetooth neckloops.

Oticon Streamer

Phonak iCom

Siemans and Widex have a Bluetooth device that does not need to be worn around the neck.  It can be carried in your pocket and transmits wirelessly to your hearing aids.

Siemans TEK                                                                                         Widex DEX


Hearing Aid Feature #4 – Wireless Connectivity

4.  Wireless connectivity – the hearing aids should communicate with each other.  My volume control is on the left.  When I adjust it, it automatically adjusts the right hearing aid, too.  My program control button is on the right.  I only have to use this one button to change the program in both hearing aids.

My favorite feature of all is the wireless connectivity I get from my Bluetooth neckloop!  The “Streamer” as it called with Oticon hearing aids, can connect to any Bluetooth device:  cell phones, computers, TV’s, land lines, etc.  (You can purchase a Bluetooth transmitter to make the TV and land line Bluetooth capable).  The Streamer is integrated with the hearing aids which means that when the phone rings, I only press one button on the Streamer and the caller’s voice is wirelessly transmitted into both my hearing aids.  I do not have to switch my hearing aids to t-coil first to answer the phone.  My ability to understand speech on my cell phone is so much better because I hear it with both ears and background noise is muted as the microphone is turned off.

I have an iPhone, so the iPod built into the phone is also Bluetooth capable.  I can listen to music, audio books, and podcasts wirelessly, too.  If I am listening to the iPod and the phone rings, the iPod automatically stops and I can answer the phone.  This would also apply to listening to TV or any other device.  When the phone rings, the Streamer would automatically stop “streaming” the audio so you can answer the phone.

The Streamer (and other neckloops) can be directly connected to audio devices.  This means a wire can be connected from the neckloop to the headphone jack of the device.  The advantage of this is that you do not have to remove your hearing aids to put on headphones.  For example, when I go to a gym that has exercise equipment with little TV’s, I can hard-wire my neckloop to the TV.  “Hard-wire” means I physically connect a wire from the bottom of the Streamer to the headphone jack of the TV.  I have a Pocketalker (personal amplifier) that I always carry with me.  If I am having trouble hearing in a noisy restaurant, I hard-wire the Pocketalker to my neckloop.  I don’t have a Bluetooth transmitter for my land line, so I sometimes hard-wire my neckloop by plugging it into the headphone jack on the telephone.  This allows me to hear with both ears when using the phone.

These are the hearing aid manufacturers I know about that have the wireless connectivity with either a neckloop or other type of accessories.

Phonak – SmartLink (FM) & iCom (Bluetooth)

Oticon – Streamer & ConnectLine

Siemans – Tek & miniTek

Unitron – uDirect & uTV

Widex – Dex (Just released!)

If you have had good or bad experiences with any of these, please leave a comment.  Also, there may be other companies that provide wireless connectivity – this is just a limited list of those I am aware of.  If you know of others, please comment.  Thanks!

Hearing Aid Features #2 and #3 – Volume Control & Program Buttons

2.  Volume Control – I want my volume control on my hearing aids. not on a remote control.  This is very important to me.  When in a group situation, one person’s voice may be softer than another’s and I can quickly adjust my hearing aid.  If I had to rummage around in my purse for my remote control, I would miss half of the conversation.

Sample control buttons on a behind-the-ear hearing aid

Sample control buttons on an in the canal aid

3.  Program buttons – Just like the volume control, I want the program buttons to be quickly available.  The program control button lets you switch to different programs set up by your audiologist.  I have 4 pre-set programs in my hearing aids.  My first program is “normal” – what I use most of the time.  My second program is for listening in a noisy environment.  It controls the directional microphone.  By turning off the microphone in the back and just using the microphone in the front, I can hear the person talking in front of me much better.  Next, I have a program to turn on my t-coil (t-coil only) and a program to turn on both my t-coil and microphone.  There are other types of programs available. When shopping for a hearing aid, find out how many programs the hearing aid is able to store and discuss the options with your audiologist.