Now more than ever, we are using technology to communicate with our friends and family. This can range from the traditional landline house telephone, to using your mobile or computer with video conferencing.
We will guide you through how to use this technology effectively with your hearing aids but first we will need to identify which type of hearing aid you have.
using the telephone
Identifying your hearing aid
All hearing aids utilise a microphone and a receiver. The microphone picks up the sound from your environment and the receiver directs this sound in to the ear. Understanding the position of the microphone on your hearing aid is critical to hearing well. Generally speaking there are two type of hearing aid. One sits on top of the ear and the other sits in the ear itself. We will guide you through using the phone, whether it be conventional or mobile, with both types.
A BTE hearing aid sits on top of the ear with a cable or wire which leads down in to the ear canal. There are generally two microphones on a BTE hearing aid and these can usually be identified by either a hole or slit in the casing of the aid. The microphones are always situated near the top of the ear.
When using a conventional telephone with a BTE hearing aid you have to lift the phone to the top of the ear instead of holding it against the ear canal as you normally would.
If you wear glasses you can use these as a guide. The point at which your glasses frames rest against your ears is the perfect position for the telephone. You may need to rotate the phone or play around with it whilst on the call to get the sweet spot but this should give you maximum clarity.
In-The-Ear (ITE) hearing aid
ITE hearing aids are fully contained in the ear itself. They can range from filling the entire pinna (full shell), all the way down to invisible in the canal (IIC) devices which are tucked away deep in the ear. The microphones on these hearing aids are generally positioned near the entrance of your ear.
With an ITE hearing aid you simply use a telephone as you normally would. The microphones on these hearing aids are positioned in line with the ear canal which is where we naturally position the phone. This means there is no need to adapt your strategy. You can still move it around slightly to see if you can optimise the position though.
Hot tip: Phones for use with a hearing aid are given a rating from M1-M4 with M4 being rated as the best. Find out how compatible your phone is here.
Video conferencing for many is a new and exciting technology. You can access this technology using your home computer, tablet or smart mobile phone.
The benefit of video conferencing is the ability to observe the person you are talking to. This allows you to lip read and monitor body language to help with context and to assist with auditory processing. As well as this, many modern hearing aids also now include bluetooth connectivity which will improve the sound quality when on the call as well.
Hints and Tips
Does your hearing aid whistle/feedback when on the telephone?
If your hearing aid screeches or squeels when you are on the telephone it means that feedback is occuring. To overcome this try to move the phone away from the ear slightly to try and break the feedback loop. If this doesn’t work, then get in touch with your audiologist as there are lots of adjustments that can be done to improve the hearing aids for phone use.
Use the other ear
A simple technique which many people overlook is to switch ears. There may be differences in your hearing ability in each ear so it is certainly worth trying the other ear to see if you hear better.
Nearly all mobile phones, and most modern home phones have a speakerphone option. The speakerphone has a much louder output and you may find you get better clarity when using the phone this way rather than holding it against your ear. The only issue with this approach is the loss of privacy so it isn’t ideal for sensitive or public conversations.
Remove the hearing aid
It sounds counter intuitive but you may hear better on the phone without their hearing aids in place. This is because there may be less environmental noise to distract you from the call. If none of the above works you could try this approach.
Hearing Aid Features to help on the phone
Some hearing aids include a telecoil which enables your hearing aids to connect to a wide range of hearing aid accessories. Many mobile phones and specialist home phones will have the loop function built in which will allow more effective communication with your hearing aid. Speak to your audiologist to see if your hearing aid is compatible with this type of phone. Phones for use with the Telecoil are given a rating from T1-T4 with T4 being rated as the best.
Bluetooth is a modern wireless communication technology that is now built in to most modern private hearing aids. It enables direct connectivity to your mobile phone as well as other home devices such as your computer and television. For many, bluetooth hearing aids are a groundbreaking solution for improving their ability to hear on the phone.
How we can help
At Sevenoaks Hearing we can guide you through the use of appropriate technology. If you purchased your hearing aids from us, this advice is included in your care plan free of charge. If not, we will still be able to schedule you an appointment to discuss how we can help you going forward. We can also source the equipment you need if you aren’t sure where to buy it. This would include appropriate training on how to set up and use your new purchase.
About Sevenoaks Hearing
At Sevenoaks Hearing, we provide a bespoke hearing service, using state-of-the-art technology to provide an accurate diagnosis and an effective solution. As we are independent of any manufacturer, we can also provide the best solution for your lifestyle. Find out about our hearing assessments and other treatment services.
Written by Adam Chell, Lead Audiologist at Sevenoaks Hearing. Visit our independent hearing centres in Sevenoaks, Banstead and East Grinstead or book an appointment now.