A Hearing Loss & Late Deafened Blog

HEARING AIDS, HEARING GADGETS AND HEARING LOSS by Saytheword

In Accommodations for Deaf, audiogram, Deafness, Hard of hearing culture, Hearing aids, Hearing Loss, Lip Reading, Travel, Uncategorized on March 6, 2010 at 5:31 pm

When u look at all the technology out there from the beginning of their creation to its current status, you willl note that most technology started out large and clutsy looking and eventually the product was reduced in size BUT improved in its functioning purposes .

 Look at computers, headphones, cellphones, xerox machines, fax machines, TTY’s, even televisions and radios. They all went from large to small and improved. Televisions stayed large and went to very thin as well.   Now, lets look at the hearing aid. Hearing aids started out as horns, something looking like the Shofa used on the Jewish holidays.

The first real hearing aid by Sonotone with a transistor was put on the market in 1952 for $229. In fact, AT&T (American Telephone and Telegraph……remember them?) gave out free transistor licenses in honor of Alexander Graham Bell. Without losing a beat, companies began producing their own aids and competing.

Acousticon put an aid out soon after for $74.50. The hearing aids were powered by batteries and worn around the waist. Could u imagine if the competition continued with prices like the ones mentioned to this day? Anyway, my point is that hearing aids have always been small, but they never quite improved and never got cheaper the way other technology has. In fact, the hearing aid price is so varied and so steep and so difficult to shop around for, that most buyers will not price them the way we do when buying a car. Not one single audiologist I’ve met or discussed with friends, have a hearing aid pricelist on their wall.

 Sure, we have the directional microphones and the programming of the aids for different environments and background noise reductions. We have the options of digital, digital programming and analog. All promising maximum speech understanding. Did u ever wonder whether it was all a gimmick? I mean, after all, hearing aids don’t provide 20/20 hearing, so why make promises u can’t keep?

All I know is that when I cut the background noise out on my hearing aid, with that advantage comes the downside, the voice i’m listening to is now lower as well. Or when there are two speakers, one behind me and one in front of me, my directional mics seem to get a little ditsy and neurotic. Point being that for some reason, the hearing aid industry has changed asthetically but not really technically. They have their new state of the art micro style differences, the ergonomic designs made especially for the boomer generation who has become so vain and forgotten their roots. And I just love when a company states, u won’t even know you’re wearing them……duh! never in a million years. I am constantly reminded that I’m wearing my aid. Whether from someone’s dumb question of “are u wearing your aid today” to “is your aid working,” or whether I am experiencing feedback that day or my ears are itching from the molds.

Naturally, I’ve accepted that hearing aids are not the perfect solution but they give me the best situation for my hearing loss. I would have preferred the aids have been more miraculously improved without convincing us they are so dynamically tuned for our specific hearing loss and that our ability to hear will be a miracle. And whats with the tiny battery? How do they expect the largest population of hearing impaired people to put that little battery into that little thingie compartment? Oh yes, they came up with a solution to that, a tape attached to the battery. And don’t forget about what happens when dropping that little battery on the floor. It’s amazing to watch a group of seniors on hands and knees looking for that stinker. It’s also amazing to see how far that little battery can travel when its not even on.

 I never lead anyone to believe that hearing aids are the all or nothing solution. Its just a temporary solution to a problem that can’t seem to be fixed by medical science thru other means, yet.

During this past summer, after a great deal of research, I purchased a $3,200 hearing aid.  You read that sticker price correctly and that was for one aid.  I tried it out for the 2 full 45 days, that was a total of 90 days due to when the rep came in to see me, she gave me a different model of the aid I was trying out that I liked better.  So they gave me the aid until the one I was purchasing came through and that day was the day my next 45 days started.  I landed up giving it back on day 105 (total days that I spent with this hearing aid which included the time I was loaned the model) and taking a $320 loss.  But hey, in all honesty, the audiologist should get paid for all the time she spent with me and trust me, she spent at least one day a week with me. I made the decision to go back to my cheap old hearing aid.

I did learn something that I did not want to face and that was, I am truly convinced that many (not all) but many audiologists cannot be  brought up to date properly due to the constant and rapid technology changes.  I am also convinced that the hearing audiologist DOES NOT UNDERSTAND HEARING LOSS as in, please don’t speak to me when the aid is out of my ear because I cannot hear you and I am not a great lip reader. 

 In the meantime, all I want is a hearing aid that works better and works to my benefit. I couldn’t care less about all these ergodynamic state of the art designs. After all, I don’t expect anyone to say, ay Pearl, cool hearing aid you got there in your ear!

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  1. Buying new aids is right up their with the stress of buying a new car, maybe worse. You sure nailed this one!

  2. You are 100% correct when you say that hearing aids have not changed technically. I understand that the hearing aids are not like glasses in that one will have one’s hearing restored to normal. The hearing aid industry has a long way to go to able to charge the exorbitant prices they demand. I would wear shoeboxes on my ears if that would allow me to hear better.

    Thanks for the affirmation.

    • I would like to correct you when you say hearing aids have not advanced. I have been in the industry for 28 years and we have come a long way. With the new digital hearing aid we are able to fine tune them to help almost anyone. Maybe you just need to find a competent hearing aid dispenser. Over the years I have helped thousands of people improve their hearing. Just remember I said improve not bring it back to normal

  3. As the mom of a daughter for whom hearing aids are no help, I think the greatest invention is the cell phone. She can know text me and her friends like every other hearing person. Amazing technology.
    Lindsey Petersen
    http://5kidswdisabilities.wordpress.com

  4. Lindsey, I so agree with you about the txting. It’s the next best thing to captioned television

  5. Great post. Hearing-care professionals know what we tell them. I’ve been told many times that my clinic doesn’t recommend a certain aid because customers were unsatisfied with it. If you don’t like it, take it back and get it adjusted or get your money back. That’s the type of feedback the industry needs.

  6. Well said Pearl. I am a pretty good lipreader but still get annoyed when they talk to me without the aid. I also find that the most expensive aid is not the best one for me.

  7. Sometimes I get so frustrated with the hearing aid industry and the audiologists who try to fit us. My latest pair of aids really suck in noisy environments. The noise is actually painful. My last aids were way better and they’re ten years old. That said, my last aids didn’t have the sound recovery system the Naidas do. At work, where it’s normally quiet, I’m hearing speech so much better. My question– why can’t Phonak make an aid with a directional mic feature that is at least as good as my ten year old siemens aids?

  8. I agree with everything you said but also what Lindsey said above, texting is a great feature for deaf communication, so is any visual based communication and I onced dealt with an audiologist online via emai and chat to get advice on a new product, when we eventually met I was suprised to find they were infact deaf themselves, then I realised we had not vocally communicated at all. (they were also very good due to the fact they were deaf)

  9. I agree with everything you said but also what Lindsey said above, texting is a great feature for deaf communication, so is any visual based communication and I onced dealt with an audiologist online via emai and chat to get advice on a new product, when we eventually met I was suprised to find they were infact deaf themselves, then I realised we had not vocally communicated at all. (they were also very good due to the fact they were deaf)

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