Assistive Technology for Hearing Problems
by Nadia Benavidez
Hearing loss affects 36 million American adults. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, two out of every 1,000 children born in the United States are born deaf or hard of hearing. The need for high-quality assistive-hearing technology is growing and the hearing industry is responding. Hearing aids have advanced to state-of-the-art Bluetooth computers, cochlear implants have been perfected and the list goes on. Assistive-hearing technology is removing the stigma once associated with hearing loss.
Assistive technology is designed to aid a person with hearing loss or deafness. The various forms of technology do basically the same thing: make things louder. However, how and when a device makes things louder makes a difference.
The most common technology is hearing aids. Digital hearing aids use a computer chip to analyze sound in comparison to your hearing loss and amplify sound according to your specific needs. Some hearing aids have wireless and Bluetooth capabilities, offering advanced solutions for hearing loss.
Personal ear-piece hearing aids disguised as cell-phone headsets are designed to be used both on and off the phone. They only provide amplification in one ear. Although your hearing loss isn't imputed into the device, the device features many noise-controlling comfort features found in advanced digital hearing aids. These can be found at cell-phone retailers and electronics outlets.
Personal FM amplification systems use radio frequencies to deliver clear sound, even in background noise. You wear a receiver with headphones, and a small portable microphone is placed on the person you want to hear. FM systems can work with or without hearing aids and work well for severe to profound hearing losses.
Implants are used to treat both hearing loss and deafness. Implants exist for the ear canal, middle ear and cochlea. However, the cost isn't always covered by medical insurance and effectiveness varies. Implants should be discussed with an ear, nose and throat surgeon.