EDUDEAF: Hearing Aids

Key words: Information, Technologies for Deaf/HH

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Date: Wed, 5 Jun 1996 14:29:09 PST

Reply-To: A Practical Discussion List Regarding Deaf Education

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From: Timothy R Friend

Subject: Introduction

To: Multiple recipients of list EDUDEAF

Hi. I just subscribed to this list a couple days ago and thought I would introduce myself. My name is Tim Friend. My two year old son is severely hearing impaired as a result of spinal meningitis when he was 14 months old. After an agonizing decision process, my wife and I decided to enroll him in an oral program and spend the extra bucks to get him the top of the line hearing aids. Since we could not get them right away, he wore loaners for a month. These were the older style linear hearing aids and, quite frankly, didn't seem to do him any good. When he got his ReSound hearing aids, however, we noticed a *dramatic* difference the day he got them. He began to respond to us when we spoke to him and even spoke a reasonable rendition of the word "pizza" that night (we had pizza for dinner, a favorite meal of his).

Since then he has gone through almost a year of school and is doing extremely well. He is able to carry on simple conversations, and is quite comfortable with his hearing aids, letting us know when one is not working, etc.

We have met some wonderful people as a result of this, our son's teachers, other parents of HI children, various people thru e-mail and internet communication, among others. On the other end of the spectrum, we have run into some stone walls. Some of the state agencies that are supposed to provide services for special needs children will only pay for linear hearing aids, and will not cover programmable hearing aids at all, even partially up to the cost of a linear hearing aid. Their excuse is that there have been no studies that prove that the programmable hearing aids are better than linear hearing aids. I gotta tell you, I would not want my son in the control group for such a test, and I am sure that others in my situation would feel the same way.

We recently obtained a book called "Hair Cells and Hearing Aids" by Dr. Charles Berlin, a noted authority on hearing research. This book is fascinating reading, if you can take all the technical talk. A couple of the chapters do assert that there *is* a difference between linear and programmable hearing aids. This book came with a CD which has audio demonstrations to illustrate various points made in the text. The first two tracks on the CD are conversations with background voices and interference, the first being heard with a linear hearing aid, and the second using the electronics of the ReSound programmable hearing aid. The difference is breathtaking. On the first track, out of approximately 15 to 20 seconds of speech, I could perhaps pick out one or two words, and only because the speaker emphasized these words. The second track was much more intelligible. Although I had to concentrate to understand the speaker, I easily picked up at least 95 percent of what she said.

I would like to hear from any of you that have any related thoughts or experiences, either through this list or by private email (tfriend@juno.com). I am trying to gather as much information as I can so that maybe we can convince some of these state agencies that newer technology *does* make a difference. I know of at least one child my son's age with a similar hearing loss who is not doing as well as my son is. His family could not afford the latest technology so he struggles. I know that each situation is unique but I firmly believe that he could benefit. There are two other children in my son's oral class which have also been fitted with ReSounds and their parents say the same thing: it has made a difference.

Another chapter in "Hair Cells and Hearing Aids" calls the fitting of linear hearing aids "pathological". Pretty strong language from someone so intimately familiar with the field.

By the way, I am not connected in any way with the ReSound Corporation, nor do I own any of its stock. It just has been an enabling technology for my son.

I am eager to hear from you...

Tim Friend

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Date: Fri, 7 Jun 1996 21:09:59 -0400

Reply-To: A Practical Discussion List Regarding Deaf Education

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From: Christofer deHahn

Subject: Re: Introduction

To: Multiple recipients of list EDUDEAF

Equally important are the insurance companies. When we first found out that Patrick was deaf we switched to an HMO that covered hearing aids (any flavor) up to $1500/yr, on a change of prescription, until age 22. This paid for his linear aids. I switched jobs and insurance companies, and the best deal I could get was $500/2 years, which just about covers earmolds at cost. Most people have no assistance whatsoever. We will have to shell out some very cold hard cash this time around since I doubt we will be eligible for assistance.

We are in the third week of a trial with the ReSound Power aids, and there has been no dramatic improvement over his linear aids but there have been some noticeable, mostly positive, changes. Patrick was born profoundly deaf so he is a borderline fit for these aids. Unfortunately this is as powerful as they get in a programmable, so we plan to try a better set of linear aids next (Unitron US80PPL). Patrick tried these last year but they were physically too big for his ears. While I agree that the newer technology is a great improvement over linear technology, if comparing equivalent products, but what Patrick needs now is high frequency gain in any form.

Good luck,

Chris

<< Chris deHahn.....CdH.....System, Network, CAE Administrator >>
<< Sun Microsystems, Inc....dehahn@tiac.net...'91 Buell RS1200 >>

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Date: Sat, 8 Jun 1996 18:37:20 +0400

Reply-To: A Practical Discussion List Regarding Deaf Education

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From: Haggith Gor Ziv

Subject: Re: Introduction

To: Multiple recipients of list EDUDEAF

In-Reply-To: <199606080109.VAA19841@mailserver1.tiac.net>

Would someone be kind enough to explain ignorant parent like me what is a linear hearing aid and what is a programmable hearing aid and what is the difference between the two?

thanking you in advance,

haggith
haggith@mofet.macam98.ac.il

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Date: Sat, 8 Jun 1996 21:19:07 PST

Reply-To: A Practical Discussion List Regarding Deaf Education

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From: Timothy R Friend

Subject: Re: Introduction: Linear/Programmable hearing aids

To: Multiple recipients of list EDUDEAF

A linear hearing aid is a device which simply makes sounds louder. Loud sounds are amplified as much as soft sounds. These usually have some form of volume control on them so that the wearer can turn them down when in a high-noise environment. If the aid is not turned down by the user for loud noises, it either starts distorting the sounds greatly because it cannot deliver that much power, or it causes great discomfort to the user.

There have been some improvements to linear aids over the last couple decades: the addition of limiting circuitry so that very loud noises are limited and discomfort is avoided, and the introduction of limited forms of compression, which amplifies loud noises less than soft noises.

A programmable hearing aid usually contains two or more "channels". Each channel is responsible for a certain portion of the audio spectrum. For example, a two channel aid would use one channel for low frequency sounds and one channel for high frequency sounds. These channels can be independently adjusted to fit the hearing needs of the wearer. For example, my son's hearing loss is more severe in the high frequency portion, so the high frequency channel can be adjusted to account for that greater loss. These hearing aids usually do not have a volume control, rather, they are plugged into a computer at the audiologist's or hearing aid dispenser's office and programmed to suit the wearer's hearing loss (hence the name, Programmable).

I hope this clears things up without too much technobabble.

Tim

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Date: Sun, 9 Jun 1996 20:52:35 -0400

Reply-To: A Practical Discussion List Regarding Deaf Education

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From: Christofer deHahn

Subject: Re: Introduction

To: Multiple recipients of list EDUDEAF

Linear hearing aids are the hearing aids that most people with a hearing loss wear. They are linear because of the type of amplification they provide. They make all sounds, whether speech or noise, equally loud. Most have compression circuitry that, in essence, makes the soft sounds a bit louder and the loud sounds a bit softer, which is called dynamic range compression. In general, though, they just make everything louder.

Programmable hearing aids have some smarts inside. They have circuitry which allows the audiologist to adjust the aid to better fit the wearer. Most new models have several compression bands, which will compress different frequency ranges independently. This can help in suppressing noise while increasing the clarity of the spoken word. Some of these aids have memories, so that the wearer can have several programs to choose from, each with a different response curve, i.e. one for quiet environments and one or more for noisy environments. The wearer can switch between the programs at will by pressing a button on the hearing aid or on a remote control. The best programmables will sample the sound level of the environment and make adjustments to the response curve on the fly.

Hope this helps,

Chris

<< Chris deHahn.....CdH.....System, Network, CAE Administrator >>
<< Sun Microsystems, Inc....dehahn@tiac.net...'91 Buell RS1200 >>

Uploaded by: Melissa Close/Kent State University/Deaf Education Major