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Fri, Oct 18 8:05am · Educating others about hearing loss and deafness in Hearing Loss

Mary, you and I have a lot in common. Mostly, in these situations I just wing it although frustrated because I cannot participate fluidly in the conversation w/o knowing what it's about. Makes me feel that people don't know how smart I am. (smile) They are my friends and comrades, so I keep going back. Glad I can shake it off and find some humor in it. Assistive technology (Mini Mic 2+) helps a lot, but it's still hard to follow conversation that is switching topics every 20 seconds. That's our reality in groups. ASL isn't a solution unless one decides to associate with others who use it. And, for speech readers it can be very distracting. I've been in many settings where signers are carrying on a conversation while a speaker is presenting. It's distracting and annoying. ASL is a beautiful means of communication, but is rarely a solution for hard of hearing people. Actually, I believe that talking about these things, as we do on this site, is an excellent stress buster.

Thu, Oct 17 10:09pm · Educating others about hearing loss and deafness in Hearing Loss

I feel that I may have responded to this before, but don't see it. Forgive me if I'm repeating myself. I do think that most everyone knows someone who is hard of hearing; a parent, a grandparent, a friend, etc. Sometimes their experience with that person is exasperating. Their experience tells them "I don't need this", and they walk away. I often refer to the 'empty chair problem'. That happens sometimes when we are in groups of familiar people, who are friends or family, but in an informal impromptu, short term setting. My example is in a group of good friends who are out for lunch together. They haven't seen one another for a while, and want to visit. You sit down, they sit down…everywhere but next to you until the last person standing has to take that empty chair. You hope it's someone whom you know well and enjoy talking to. Others like you and you like them, but they want to visit and their experience with you is that you don't do well in that environment. They struggle too. Then the person sitting next to you spends all the time talking to the person on the other side of her/him. You sit there like a statue because the person on the other side is doing the same thing. Anyone out there know what I'm talking about? 🙂

Sun, Oct 13 3:42pm · What to Expect at Your Hearing Aid Fitting in Hearing Loss

Well, it's obvious that you live in a very remote area. Where? I spend considerable time in a tourist area, but don't seem to have the issues you are describing. As far as loops go, we've been using a loop at our HLAA meetings since 1984. We built the original loop we used for 20 years out of telephone wire, an amplifier and a hard wired microphone. While professionally installed loops have some new standards, a loop can be built fairly easy if one has even minimum understanding of how they work. Cost: A few hundred bucks. You might also consider purchasing a personal FM system to use in those social settings you describe. There are numerous products that can work like FM does. That could also be used in venues with speakers if you are willing to ask the speaker to use a microphone that you provide.

Sun, Oct 13 11:31am · What to Expect at Your Hearing Aid Fitting in Hearing Loss

This is another thing that's misunderstood. Many people prefer a 'T' only option, while others like an 'M/T' program that brings the sound in from the loop but also allows one to hear through the hearing aid microphone while using the loop or other device that relates to the telecoil. Some people I know refer to the M/T option as 'the marriage saver option'. Why? Because when one is using the T only option, all they hear is what is coming through the broadcasting system, meaning the microphone being used by the speaker or audio device. In many instances, that is the ONLY thing you want to hear. In others, perhaps in the family room with TV, you might want to hear your spouse ask a question. The M/T allows that. However, it also brings in the very background noise we are trying to eliminate. Not a problem in a quiet setting, but a big one in an arena setting. Most digital hearing aids have 4 programs that can be set by the 'fitter'. One can be used for T and another for M/T if that's preferable. Some hearing aids have remote controls that will allow adjustment in an M/T setting that determines which of the two is at a specific volume level. Those who fit hearing aids have an obligation to educate the people who buy them. It takes time, but should be expected.

Fri, Oct 11 10:31pm · What to Expect at Your Hearing Aid Fitting in Hearing Loss

That's really interesting. Some Costco's have audiologists on staff; some do not. I'm sure they vary a great deal. I have profound hearing loss, and am bimodal with a CI and a HA that work very well together. I would not risk short changing myself by not going to an audiologist whom I know to be excellent. However, I would not discourage others with less serious hearing loss to try Costco. This also goes back to that trial period issue. If the aid(s) you are trying don't work, take the back and either go elsewhere or ask to try something else. That trial period is vital. I would also recommend asking whether or not a hearing purchased at Costco or other 'big box' provider, can be reprogrammed by a provider outside of Costco. I've heard that some of the aids they sell are 'locked' in a way that they cannot be programmed outside of Costco. This is may not be a big issue for some, but for those who travel it could be.

Fri, Oct 11 11:39am · What to Expect at Your Hearing Aid Fitting in Hearing Loss

I wonder if we should do a bit more clarification of what a hearing aid 'fitter' is and/or can be. In Wisconsin, 'fitters' are required to pass a state exam to be licensed to sell hearing aids. Audiologists and hearing instrument specialists (HIS) take the same exam, and have the same privileges to fit and sell hearing aids. The difference is education. HIS need have no more than a high school diploma, and experience working under a licensed 'fitter', a short internship of sorts. Audiologists, for the most part have doctorate level degrees, that are indicated by the AuD initials following their name. Actually, many have a master's degree rather than an AuD degree, and are grandfathered in as clinical audiologists. They do not all have the same level of education, nor do they have the same quality of practice. And yet, some HIS seem to be better at fitting hearing aids than some AuDs, based on customer satisfaction. My personal opinion on REM is that 'more is better'. Why not get the full package when you're paying for the product? Even more important is what you do after you walk out of their office with the product(s) you just paid a fortune for. You have a mandatory trial period, according to the laws of your state. USE IT to try the products everywhere you ever plan to go or be. Don't get frustrated because things don't sound right. You only have 30 days to figure this out, so use them wisely. Go to a play, to the theater, to a social setting where background noise is present. Eat out. Don't simply test them in quiet.

Further, if your 'fitter' doesn't demonstrate the options available to you, and merely tells you about them, you are getting short changed. I don't know anyone who would not choose to have the telecoil option if they were able to plug in to a radio, ipod, laptop, etc. with a neckloop, or better yet to use with a loop installed in the 'fitter's office with a TV. You have to try it to know what it does. Merely having someone who is selling you something tell you that this 'option' might help you in some places, isn't good enough. And, some 'fitters' will tell you it's not important. Wrong! It is important IF you really want to hear in all settings, even those you may have abandoned because of your hearing loss. Some will tell you they don't want to add cost to the product by selling their customers on options. Don't swallow that. A quality telecoil in a hearing aid will add less than $20 to the cost of the product. It is not an added expense. So, when you go to your HIS, audiologist or 'fitter', be armed with questions and have some ideas about the answers, which are why you are asking those questions in the first place. You are paying for service and should expect the best available. Bluetooth technology is wonderful, but it does NOT replace the telecoil feature, so don't swallow that one either. Seriously, your approach to buying a hearing aid should be a consumer approach. Do some research. Talk to people who use hearing aids successfully. Read. Find some HLAA folks who are willing to openly discuss their hearing loss journeys. You won't regret it. (Sorry so long, but this is such an important topic!)

Fri, Oct 11 9:46pm · What to Expect at Your Hearing Aid Fitting in Hearing Loss

That is what makes the process so complex. Technology isn't all that difficult to understand if one is willing to learn. Many of the HIS are very tuned in to the various components in hearing aids. Some 'fitters' at all levels listen to their clients; some do not because they consider themselves the experts. I am sure that Costco and other 'big box' providers have a variety of levels of professionals in this area. Costco sells good quality hearing aids made by reputable manufacturers. I don't know this for fact, but have been told that many of the hearing instruments they sell are less expensive because they are models that are slightly outdated; perhaps a model or two behind what is currently being promoted by the manufacturers and audiologists. That doesn't mean they are not quality hearing aids. You educated your Costco provider because you knew what you wanted. That will also help other people who buy hearing aids from the provider(s) you taught. 🙂

Sat, Oct 12 9:16am · What to Expect at Your Hearing Aid Fitting in Hearing Loss

That goes right back to the importance of being an informed buyer/consumer. Do some research on hearing aids. Talk to people who use them successfully. Use HLAA as a resource if possible. This is a unique area as we consider hearing instruments to be medical devices. They are, but since they are rarely insured so they are more like a 'consumer product'. You don't go out and buy a car, a TV or a refrigerator without knowing what options are available. Your lifestyle matters. If you don't enjoy social events, movies, plays, etc. you may not need all the options. On the other hand, if the reason you don't enjoy those things is because of your hearing loss, the options may be the incentive you need to get back in the swing. As I've said before: The telecoil is extremely important to me, and still would be if I didn't use it outside of my own home. home I use it on my laptop, and to listen to music on a variety of audio devices. I use it with my cell phone. Elsewhere I use it at our performing arts center, and in church. I turn to BlueTooth when we are out for dinner or in cocktail party settings. A hearing aid without a telecoil is like a car without air conditioning….you don't need it all the time, but when you do you are sure glad you have it! BT takes things a step further, but it does not replace the value of the telecoil. Lastly, it's up to the hard of hearing population to educate their communities about the value of hearing loops in public venues. They don't get there without that education. It's time we all stopped accepting that hearing loss is simply ignored when it comes to access. Communication access is a right but we have to claim it.