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Ski slope hearing loss

Dana Mulvany dmulvany at email.sjsu.edu
Mon Jul 8 22:01:25 EST 1996

Hi, I'm a hard of hearing person with a ski-slope hearing loss.  I
recently attended the SHHH National convention in Orlando, Florida and
attended the all day symposium on hearing aids.  I've been trying the
Phonak Audio Zoom but while I like the Audio Zoom feature very much, I
don't think I'm hearing as well in quiet as I could be.   The low
frequency sounds seem to mask the higher sounds I hear, although I
feel I'm also not even hearing any of the higher sounds at all in
quiet.  For example, I used to be able to hear my microwave oven beep
several times, and I couldn't today even when I was standing right
next to it.  I feel I'm also missing some of the temporal information
from high-pitched sounds even if I can't discriminate between high

I'm wondering what the differences are between the Widex digital
hearing aid and the Oticon DigiFocus.  I know particularly little
about the Widex hearing aid and what amount of control one has over
it.   I know that the DigiFocus doesn't have a volume control and that
the user is pretty much supposed to leave it alone after it's
programmed.  Is the Widex similar?  How many bands does it have?  Are
the bands adjustable or fixed?  Does it use parallel processing like
the DigiFocus does?

One thing I learned from the symposium is that filters do not seem to
be effective in enhancing speech comprehension in noise, but obviously
the Phonak programmable hearing aids are heavily invested in "comfort"
programs.  (With my ski slope hearing loss, I think I'm a particularly
unsuitable candidate for filtering programs.  My hearing loss is
profound at 1500 and above.)   I wish I could get the Audio Zoom
feature without paying megabucks for all the other stuff that doesn't
make any difference to me.  (I tried them to no avail.)  But I have
plenty of assistive listening devices that I can use in noise if
necessary.  (The TA-80C, the SoundWizard, two FM systems, a Centrum
Sound gadget that lets me use my DAI on my old hearing aid, the Oticon
audio loop, the Chaparral db50...!)

I grew up with my hearing loss by the way, and communicate over the
phone pretty easily in most cases.  My hearing in 1991 was 25 db at
250, 45 at 500, 75 at 1000, and off the chart at 1500, 200, and 4000.
At 8000 it came back up to 100 db.  My speech discrimination with my
Phonic Ear 840 was 60% at 55 db and 28% at 80 db unaided.  (This is
all with my right ear; I have zero speech discrimination in my left
ear. My hearing has been tested more recently and is about 10 db
lower, roughly, but I don't have that audiogram with me.)  I think I
do use amplification at 1500 and 2000 cps, though (the 1991 audiogram
shows I detected these sounds at 70 db).  I don't know whether I can
hear the difference, but knowing the sound is being made and for how
long is helpful, I think.

Widex doesn't seem to have a web page available---can anyone fill me
in on what they're saying about their product?  And of course, if
someone has some suggestions for me, I'd love to hear them!

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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