More from my Dad’s Hearing Aid book, Chapter 1 – Beginning a new sort of life

The hearing aid is not a Hi-Fi instrument.  Whilst most types of aid will cope very well with music,  (Ed.I’m surprised he was able to say this in the 90’s, but today there is still quite a difference between different hearing aids and their performance with different types of music, and some still need to have a “music program” which really shouldn’t be necessary) they are essentially designed as aids to  communication and “tuned” to the range of sounds from which speech is commonly constituted.(Ed. Dad was right about this, and there is almost a research industry out there now in predicting what the tuning should be for setting up hearing aids for speech sounds.  Most hearing aids use a form of compression amplification.  As the input data is an audiogram – that is the softest sounds you can hear, the fitter has to use some kind of prediction to know where to tune the hearing aid, and it is usually tuned to optimise speech).  Speech sounds are encountered in a great variety of conditions other than normal one-to-one conversation, radio and television broadcasts – for instance, public announcements, theateres, churches, the telephone.  Recognising this, an increasing number of public and private authorities provide special assistnace to the hearing aid user in the form of an audio-loop”. This givevs a direct electronic couplering to most types of aid (Ed – as long as they have a T-coil).  The benefits of this are two -fold – firstly the actual speech is clearer” more intelligible, and secondly extraneous noises are suppressed.  This is indeed one area where the hearing aid users actually scores over normal hearing people – for instance using a telephone in a noisy environment such as a main line railway station.  “Loops” will be dealt with in Chapter 9.

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