Accessibility Accommodations ASR (Automatic Speech Recognition) Assistive Listening Device Captioning CART (live captioning) Cochlear Implants Hard of Hearing Hearing Aids Hearing Loops & Telecoils Hearing Loss Hearing Technology Smartphones

When Hearing Loss Technology Goes Right

There are more options than ever for hearing loss thanks to technology. Having technology available gives us more options for living life than ever before. From hearing aids, to smartphones, assistive listening and remote CART/live captioning capabilities. We love technology.

Hearing Aid Technology Gone Right

First up, hearing aid technology has come a long way in the last 20 years. For a good history of hearing aids, read Wikipedia’s article HERE. It doesn’t include current capabilities in that hearing aids are now being made with Bluetooth capability, skipping the MFI (Made For iPhone) feature. That means Android operating systems will now have better connectivity with newer hearing aids. If you are getting new hearing aids soon and have an Android operating smartphone, be sure to get hearing aids that connect directly for better connection to your phone.

Cochlear Implant Technology Gone Right

Cochlear implant (CI) technology has improved too. The American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA) has a history of CI’s HERE, if you’re interested. That’s a fascinating read as well. It shares information on the 3 different cochlear implants available.  

Programming Options Are Amazing

Do you know about all the programming options in CI’s and hearing aids? There are multiple programs now and each program can be individually tweaked to your liking. There are little things too like not getting the hearing battery dying reminders (which can be annoying) to turning off the musical start when you turn on hearing aids and the beeping when the other hearing aid is off for some reason. About a year ago, we created a post sharing some of the programming options HERE

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Technology Connectivity Options 

Connectivity for our hearing devices started with the telecoil. Back in the day, that’s how we connected to phones for better hearing. We still remember moving the ear piece of the phone to hover over hearing aids instead of ear for better sound, finding the ‘sweet spot”. Thanks to Bluetooth options, phone calls go directly to our ears. That has improved hearing aid use dramatically. 

We love it when our hearing devices connect to our phones and computers seamlessly. Pairing devices is easier than ever, but that’s not to say there aren’t issues from time to time. Technology, we love it….and sometimes we hate it. We’ll talk more about issues next week. This week we are focusing on the positive side of technology.

Public Assistive Listening

Speaking of Bluetooth, it used to be only for personal devices but that’s changing. It will soon be a public option for assistive listening and that’s exciting! A few years ago, WiFi assistive listening was introduced and that’s a nice option too. With a smartphone and an app, we can tune in without picking up, and returning, a device. This is an improvement for hearing loss technology.

We will learn more about the Bluetooth assistive listening option, Auracast, at the HLAA convention in Phoenix later this month. After that, we will share our experience with you.

Even though hearing loop technology isn’t new, it’s still valid in today’s world. Whenever a hearing loop is offered, we’ll take that option too.  We highly suggest you never buy hearing aids without a telecoil. Have the program turned on just in case you’re in the vicinity of a hearing loop. It’s a hearing experience you’ll never forget.  Read about hearing loops and telecoils HERE.  

Texting Technology

In the late 90’s, Chelle heard about ‘texting’ through a SayWhatClub mini gathering. It sounded complicated. At the time, she didn’t understand the concept. It was 10 years before she experienced texting thanks to her teenagers. It became a godsend later after a sudden drop in hearing. Texting became her main mode of communication. 

Have you heard of “Real-time Texting” (RTT)? It’s an option in your phone’s accessibility menu). The first time we heard that we were baffled. Isn’t texting pretty much real-time? It was an odd concept until we played with it. We watch each other type. Will this become more common? We don’t know but it’s fun to play with technology that is hearing loss related. Do you use RTT currently? We’d love to hear from you. What do you love about it? Read more about RTT on Wikipedia. Here are instructions for iPhone and Android RTT use.

Smartphones & Apps

Have you checked into your smartphone’s built-in accessibility? (We share apps in that link too.) That’s a new form of accessibility through technology for hearing loss. Hardly anyone tells us about it. This is where you can turn on captions for videos. Get alerts for sounds around your house that you can’t hear. (It will run your phone battery down faster but it might be worth it.) Turn on RTT and try it! You can also turn on flash LED alerts for incoming texts and phone calls under the accessibility menu.

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The apps available for the deaf and hard of hearing now are amazing! Go into your app store and type in hard of hearing and see what all comes up. There’s a charge for some, some are free and others in between. Do your research and read the reviews.  

Technology at the Movies

Hearing aids went digital and so did the film industry. Thanks to current technology, going to the movies with hearing loss has more options than ever too. That’s something that went right too! Not that it’s without its frustrations which we’ll talk about next week. Captions are included in digital format films, it’s just a matter of pressing the button. 

More technology options are CaptiViews and Sony’s Caption Glasses as well which are more of a personal device while at the theater. Read about these devices and accessibility at the movies HERE with our experiences.

Technology That Helps Hearing Devices, or NOT

Even if we don’t use a hearing device, there is technology we can use to keep us in the know with apps for automatic speech recognition (ASR, or speech to text), video meetings (seeing is hearing) that can be used with ASR. These apps are useful for day to day life. Reminder: ASR does not replace CART/live captioning, or broadcast captioning, when the information is important, or when it’s a live event. A real person captioning comes in well ahead of ASR for accuracy rates. Learn more about CART services HERE and take a look at a post we did on ASR & CART HERE.

Thanks to technology, CART/live captioning can be done from a remote location. In a recent class Chelle taught in person in Salt Lake City, someone from Michigan captioned for the entire class.  CART/live captioning is our interpretation of the spoken word when we can’t hear. It’s the same kind of ADA accommodation as sign language interpretation. Take a look at HERE for more information on that service, along with CART providers.

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Technology Gone Right in our World

Technology keeps us in the know and participating like anyone else, if we’re up for it. Hearing loss numbers are rising and at the same time, technology is keeping up. Thank goodness. Join our Let’s Talk Tuesday June 4, 2024 at 6:00 PM mountain time via Zoom. Let’s talk about our favorite technology hacks because with so much out there, we learn from each other. You can register from our home page.

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