This article describes how the children with hearing aids can get better results in listening to speech in noisy environment and music by using technology
Hearing technology has improved leaps and bound in last few years. Therefore, there are so many technology friendly options that can make your and your child’s life much easier listening to the speech and music. Speech is a complex stimulus for the brain to understand. More so in the challenging environment that the busy listening environment can create at home and school. For example, if the child is at home where TV is on and your are in the kitchen doing the dishes; there may also be a noisy sibling around- that can pose a great listening challenge to a child with compromised hearing function-even with the best hearing devices in the world. Similarly, school can be an immensely difficult environment to listen to. Have a look at this link to understand a typical classroom situation for these young guns: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/misunderstoodminds/experiences/attexp2a.html
Basically, the hearing dysfunction in the auditory system affects the child in two major ways:
1. Attenuation by threshold change: This means that the child needs more volume in the sounds to hear than somebody with perfect hearing
2. Distortion that occurs above threshold: When sounds are louder and the child can hear it- their hearing system still has some damage (depending on the threshold). This partially damaged hearing system does not process the sounds in the same way as the fully functional one. Therefore, even the amplified sounds are slightly more distorted than usual (technical processes that cause this, may represent as: temporal processing loss, upward spread of masking, inhibition issues, frequency discrimination issues etc).
Another way to think about distortion is listening effort, which is also known as signal-to-noise or SNR loss. This is represented by how much the speech is louder than the background noise. So, if the average speech is at 65dB and average noise is at 60dB; SNR will be 5dB.
- Normal listeners require SNR of 0dB;but children with permanent hearing loss may require an SNHL of 4-12dB to understand speech in noisy environment.
Therefore, when children have compromised hearing, their hearing devices may not be able to do everything. They need all the help that they can get. Technology can be a great friend in all this. There are various connectivity options available that will make children’s life easier for listening to speech and music.
Here is a great resource to have a look, which discusses all sort of technology to go with hearing devices: http://www.ndcs.org.uk/family_support/technology_and_products/index.html
This really useful resource, which discusses options for music listening too- http://www.ndcs.org.uk/family_support/technology_and_products/technology_test_drive_product_loan_service/tv_listeners.html
Music is a really important part of all of our lives and children who wear hearing devices are no different. Hearing devices are mainly catered to deliver a good quality of speech whereas the spectrum of music is much different. Therefore, one really needs to carefully select a hearing device with special features and program the device to process music to get the best outcome. However, there are a few other things that can be done, irrespectively:
- Select a good headphones: You will have to use hit and trial and find a headphone which can cover the ear and hearing devices completely so, the devices do not dig into the child’s head-and also, doesn’t make the device whistle. Something like a Sennheiser HD200 series might do the trick. You just want a big enough and comfortable cup.
- In terms of general external connections- they depend on two things- a) the actual make/model of hearing devices that one has and b) the programming of hearing devices.
a) the technology has moved on- there are hearing devices that you can connect with your iphone and internet of things (you can ask hearing device to turn your smart heating on e.g. See this short video: click here
There are streaming options with almost all the modern devices. If the device can not connect to the smartphone music player directly, there are small interfaces that can be bought to make the connection between the phone and hearing device for calls and music. Contact us for more details and advice.
b) There are other options depending on how the devices are programmed by your audiologist. For example, the child may be able to have an extra telecoil program and get one of the below devices called personal telecoil listening connectors: http://www.connevans.co.uk/catalogue/189/Personal-Inductive-Listening or if the child has FM shoes attached to their hearing devices at the bottom, then they can use something like a direct-audio-input cable for listening to music: http://www.connevans.co.uk/product/9594904/DCM4440/MED-EL-EA-yellow-mixing-cable—Bilateral
Note that I have bought these connections from Amazon in the past, which worked quite well. Audiology Planet does not endorse any particular vendor and the idea of this article to provide information only.
I hope that helps the readers. Please let us know our thoughts by contacting us via this website or on our social media. Feel free to inquire for further information. We will be happy to help!