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Dream Hearing Aid Wish List

Dana Mulvany dmulvany at email.sjsu.edu
Mon Jul 8 22:48:42 EST 1996

Kate Johnston <Kate at ricochet.net> wrote:

>> >From: Bertrand Chan <tsdi at intergate.bc.ca>
>> >1. Functions/ Features
>Telecoils are important, not just for telephone use, but for using in 
>the increasing numbers of public places that are looped.  

I agree with Kate about telecoils being important.  They need to be
strong and to mimick what the hearing aid can do, and to be at least
as loud as the hearing aid.  Not everybody seems to realize that most
of the time, the volume drops when one puts the telecoil on.

Direct audio input is also important to bypass electromagnetic
interference from computer monitors (although if telecoils could be
designed to stop picking up interference, that would be great!)

Other ways of coupling with telephones may become possible in the

Hearing aids should be shielded from interference with digital
wireless telephones and other technology known to cause interference
(like fluorescent lights).

>Volume controls are also important, as I don't think any programmable 
>hearing aid is going to be able to judge accurately the noise level any 
>person will tolerate.  Remember that hearing loss changes according to 
>health and general well-being.  If a person is tired, the sounds that 
>come through might be way too loud for comfort, even though they are the 
>same frequencies that are comfortable at other times.

This is an interesting point that Kate makes.  I was playing grass
volleyball next to a REALLY loud group of people the other day and
ended up getting a headache from the constant loud noise.  I'd left my
remote control at home so I couldn't put on the Audio Zoom feature.  I
wonder how I would have done with the DigiFocus since you can't change
the volume on that.  One needs to know that a sound is very loud, but
one would appreciate lowering the volume at times!

>Changing batteries is a big problem.  It should be possible to change a 
>battery without resorting to all sorts of contortions.  I guess that 
>means a battery drawer should be easily accessible, and it should be 
>relatively easy to get that little thing out to put a new one in.  (see 
>more below on Size)

I've never had a problem, but I play volleyball! <grin>  I saw an
elderly woman unable to figure out which way to put the battery in,
though, and she's broken the battery holders---probably because she
was closing the door when the battery was sticking out.  This is a
difficult problem to solve, though.

>Size of batteries is also important.  My current HAs use the 13a 
>batteries, and those are really too small!  I -can- handle them, and I 
>have a very mild case of cerebral palsy.  But many older people will not 
>be able to handle them.  Think of the blow to one's independence when 
>you have to depend on someone else to change the batteries for you!

What happens with the woman I mentioned above is that she goes around
with dead batteries in her hearing aids because nobody in her board
and care home can be bothered to help her change her batteries!  There
needs to be something developed for all the elderly people who can't
figure out how to deal with tiny gadgets.  Maybe if something could be
devised that would light up when the battery is facing the right
direction and has enough battery power...or if some signal would turn
on if the battery was growing weak....this would be useful for parents
of very young children, too.

>> >3. Price
>Personally, I can afford hearing aids, but I know of many people who 
>cannot afford even the old, analog hearing aids.  I am currently 
>corresponding via the Internet with someone who was told by an 
>audiologist last October that she would benefit from HAs, but cannot 
>afford them.

Health insurance providers ought to cover hearing aids.  It is a shame
for hearing aids to be out of the reach of people who need them.  I
imagine that hearing aid dealers offer payment plans, and if they
don't, they ought to.

>> >4. Appearance
>> We talked about making hearing aids more visible, and 

>Why not?  I firmly believe if we can make hearing aids more fashionable, 
>more people wouldn't mind wearing them. 

I strongly agree with Kate on this one!  I would like hearing aids to
be so stylish and attractive that people are proud and excited about
wearing them!

>> >5. Ease of use
>See my point above, on size.  Also, if there is a remote, might be a 
>good idea to provide some accessory to easily to attach to clothing.  
>Hey!  Make it a fashion accessory!  (See Appearance, above)  A pin, or a 
>brightly colored pendant to wear on a chain, or on a belt.  For men,  it 
>could be like a pocket protector thing, like a pen.

I would really, really like to be independent of a remote control, but
if you HAVE to have one, try making an attractive watch out of it!
That way it stays on your wrist without getting knocked off as other
remote controls do, and it serves a dual purpose.  I've dropped my
remote several times and even lost it twice.  I've also forgotten it
many times.  I really don't like being forced to use it, but if it
were also a watch, it would be a lot easier to wear and to remember,
and less  likely to be misplaced.  The remote needs to be VERY durable
and the controls protected from accidental contacts with other
objects.  The remotes should also not affect other people with the
same make of hearing aid, although I have to say it was fun at the
SHHH convention sneaking up on other people with Phonak Audio Zooms
and messing around with their hearing aids with my remote! <grin>

I'd love to help hearing aid companies develop a quality product that
addresses the needs of hard of hearing people better---but we all
would, I'm sure!  

Dana Mulvany, MSW, LCSW
dmulvany at email.sjsu.edu

Dana Mulvany, MSW, LCSW
Campbell  CA  (near San Jose)
dana at gnn.com
dmulvany at isc.sjsu.edu
dana.shhh at genie.com

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