I think hearing aids are wonderful. I hate to think what my life would be like without them. But sometimes, and in some situations, either you’re not wearing them (like when you’re in bed, coming out of the shower, etc.) or they need to be supplemented by another type of assistive device. That’s where hearing assistance technologies come in. Keep in mind that the devices I’m talking about are not hearing aids and they are not used instead of hearing aids.
These are not far-fetched examples. As most hearing aid users will testify, even with the most sophisticated of instruments, there are still situations where hearing-related difficulties occur. So while hearing aids are marvelous devices, they can only do so much. They can’t restore normal hearing and they can’t help you when you’re not wearing them. Some sort of hearing assistance technology can add to your communication capabilities and sound awareness. But this will be possible only if you’re aware that these devices exist, that you know what they do and where to get them, and most importantly, if you’re determined to take the initiative in order to get the help you need. You can’t disguise a hearing assistive device; when you use it, everyone (gasp!) will know you have a hearing loss (as if all the important people in your life already didn’t know!).
Hearing assistance technologies come in two forms. In one type, they are designed to convert sound or keystrokes into a visual or vibratory stimuli, or a written text. These are called signaling or text display devices. In other words, they provide an alternative for the sound. The second type is designed to enhance the sound you are receiving. These are called assistive listening devices, and they work by picking up the sound closer to its source (thus reducing the effects of distance, noise, and reverberation) and transmitting it directly to your ears (or hearing aids). In recent years, there has been an impressive proliferation of both types of devices, many more than I can include in this paper. What I’d like to do here is provide you with a general overview of what devices are available and how they work. At the conclusion of this paper, I’ll inform you where and how you can get further information