Not sure what a hearing aid streamer is or never used one effectively? Then this article is for you.
For several years I was terrified of taking phone calls. Some were more terrifying than others—like extremely long calls with the bank in a foreign language—but I pretty much feared all of them. I was an equal-opportunity call-fearer.
I’d ask my girlfriend to take all the scary ones, and the calls I couldn’t delegate, I’d postpone. And I don’t need to tell you that delaying a stressful task can compound the problem: the longer you delay, the more stressful it gets.
Hearing aids aren’t really designed to let you comfortably have a phone conversation the regular way (holding your handset to your ear). As you know, covering your hearing aids with an external body will make them squeal. They’ll also exaggerate the noise around you, so you’re left to deal with lottery hearing: guessing what’s being said.
With the behind-the-ear type of hearing aid, the mics are placed at the top of your ears, so to hear you have to place your phone 90 degrees from your head. This way the mic will be so far from your mouth that the person on the other end will struggle to hear you.
No, hearing aids are definitely not designed to work seamlessly with your phone (at least not the way perfect hearing people do it).
I’ve tried lots of different hacks to make it easier to speak over the phone. I’ve spent hours in electronics shops, trying over-the-ear headphones, searching for the ones that didn’t make my hearing aids squeal. After I found some, it was still a fragile set up; a small tilt of my head and my HAs would squeal in the middle of an important sentence, and I’d miss what was said.
I’ve also tried having phone calls with the in-ear-type earphones, instead of my hearing aids. There were no squeals with this setup, but speech understanding was lower, especially when I was talking with women. (My hearing loss is greater in the higher frequencies).
So, lots of struggle and lots of failed attempt, until…I found the right hack.
The answer was simple, and it had been in my face all along: a Bluetooth streamer!
If you have wireless hearing aids, you can use a Bluetooth streamer to send the audio directly into both (both!) of your hearing aids. Most streamers will also let you mute the mics on your hearing aids, which is great when you’re talking in noisy environments.
It turned out that with my hearing loss, all I needed was a clear signal. If I can hear the sound loud and clear through my hearing aids, I basically have no cognitive barriers to process what is said. If you have a more profound hearing loss, or you have auditory processing issues, it might not be enough. But if you’re able to hear well in a 1-1 in quiet situation, you should be able to hear via the phone, too.
Please, save yourself a lot of struggle and grab a hearing aid streamer, or if you have made-for-iPhone hearing aids, use the streaming functionality. It makes a whole lot of difference.
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