Auditory Processing Disorders and FM Systems

Auditory Processing Disorders and FM Systems

For many years FM systems were used primarily for individuals that had a hearing impairment. In recent years, research has shown how an FM system can lend benefit to individuals with other difficulties, for example, auditory processing disorder (APD). A study by Johnston and others entitled, ” Multiple benefits of personal FM system use by children with auditory processing disorder (APD)”, documented these findings. Among the results of FM use were:  speech perception improvement in noisy classroom environment  significant academic and psycho-social benefits  after prolonged FM use, even unaided (no FM device) speech-perception performance was improved in the children with APD, suggesting the possibility of fundamentally enhanced auditory system function     If you’d like to read the findings in their entirety, or have another question, send me an email at: bill.bielski@phonak.com... read more
Disability Accommodation Resources

Disability Accommodation Resources

While the Phonak Work Life team is primarily focused on providing education and recommendation for hearing accommodations in the classroom and workplace, we wanted to pass along some additional resources. Finding a complete list of resources can be time consuming and frustrating. With that in mind we have compiled a listing of disability resources, not just for hearing loss, that can assist you in making better accommodation choices for your students and employees:   Association on Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD) – https://www.ahead.org/   American Association of People with Disabilities – http://www.aapd.com/   Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) – http://www.hearingloss.org/   Job Accommodation Network – https://askjan.org/   National Association of the Deaf – http://nad.org/   National Organization on Disability – http://nod.org/   Career Opportunities for Students with Disabilities (COSD) – http://www.cosdonline.org/  ... read more

How does untreated hearing loss impact employee health?

According to research conducted by Johns Hopkins Medicine 20% of adults report some degree of hearing loss- about 48 million people. Of that 48 million, 60%  are either in the workforce, or in educational settings. So chances are high you have an employee that needs hearing help. While it’s not your task as an employer to identify those that need assistance, you can help accommodate the process by letting your employees know their rights based on the Americans with Disabilities Act. On average an individual waits seven years before seeking professional help for a hearing loss. As an employer you can improve your employees quality of life and boost their production by alerting them of their rights. Facts: Untreated hearing loss is linked to increased absenteeism and reduced workplace productivity, in addition to range of emotional/physical conditions including: Impaired memory Compromised ability to learn new tasks Reduced alertness Increased personal safety risk Irritability, negativism, anger, fatigue, stress, depression, and overall health Encourage your employees to have regular hearing tests, just as you would encourage regular doctors visits.... read more
How can untreated hearing loss impact your bottom line?

How can untreated hearing loss impact your bottom line?

While untreated hearing loss first and foremost affects quality of life, if you’re an employer, it can hurt your bottom line too. Check out the statistics below from a Better Hearing Institute study: Yearly aggregate loss in income due to underemployment resulting from untreated hearing loss: ~$176 billion Hearing assistive help shown to reduce risk of income loss by 90-100% for those with milder hearing loss, and 65-77% for moderate to severe hearing loss With hearing assistance individuals exhibit improved job performance, increased earning potential, enhanced communication skills, improved professional and interpersonal relationships and less depression Find out here what the ADA says about employees rights to hearing help at... read more

How much do hearing aids cost?

The cost of a hearing aid is tied to it’s advanced features. Typically, the more feature rich a hearing aid, the more expensive it is. Your need for features is directly tied to the complexity of listening environments you find yourself in (meetings, talking on the phone, watching TV…). With greater situational need comes greater technological need. What pricing should I expect for hearing aids? The actual range is quite wide, from $500 for a single basic hearing aid to $7,500 for a set of advanced digital hearing aids. So yes, hearing aids can be expensive! Do I need more than a hearing aid? Hearing aids aren’t always the only consideration when it comes to hearing help. A range of other assistive listening devices (ALDs) exist, providing benefit to both hearing aid users and non-hearing aid users. In general, ALDs exist to make up for the short comings of hearing aids (i.e. noisy situations, distance situations, and poor acoustics). What is pricing for an Assisted Listening Device? Like hearing aids the cost range for ALDs similarly has a wide continuum. This cost range is based directly upon the intricacy of listening environments. The more complex the environment (i.e. high noise, long distance, and poor acoustic environments) the more advanced the ALD, and therefore greater price. The ALD genre includes everything from a basic personal amplification device (helps in face to face conversation in quiet) all the way up to advanced adaptive wireless technology (parties and restaurant interaction). Given this, the realistic price range for ALDS spans from $150 up to $2,000. So, how can you justify a purchasing an... read more

How can I justify using an FM?

Let’s be honest… sometimes hearing aids don’t measure up! If you have a hearing loss and have already been fit with a hearing aid,  you know hearing can still be difficult at times. Naturally, you might be asking yourself:     To answer this question you must define the situations a hearing aid can solve. A hearing aid is extremely effective in the near field. This means if a listening situation is occurring with about 5-8 ft of you, a hearing aid can handle most every demand. Most issues with hearing aids arise outside of this near field bubble. Life doesn’t happen in a neat 5-8 ft circle! Most listening situations are dynamic and happen in all types of noise and at varying distances. For these dynamic situations (far field situations) an assistive listening device (ALD), specifically an FM system is justifiable. FMs allow for a microphone to be placed at the sound source to pick up the sound of interest. Sound can then be wirelessly relayed to your hearing aids. An FM can therefore effectively overcome the effects that distance, noise and room acoustics have on a sound. Quick Facts: **Where hearing aids fall short is where an FM shines: 1. In background noise a hearing aid directional microphone can  increase signal to noise ratio 3-5 dB. An FM system can boost the SNR at the hearing impaired individuals ear by 15-25 dB. 2. At a distance: with each doubling of distance, sound arrives at a hearing aid 6 dB SPL softer. An FM places a microphone at the sound source. Therefore sound arrives at your ear at... read more
ALD Tech Re-boot: What next?

ALD Tech Re-boot: What next?

In our final installment of our ALD Tech Re-boot let’s discuss where we’ve been and where our technology leads us in the future: In years past finding out about the latest available technology might have been received the latest catalog from your favorite hearing technology distributor. Clearly, the internet revolution changed how we search and find new products. But still, how could you be sure the technology you were getting was the best on the market? The Phonak Work Life team has been formed to resolve these exact issues. Now, all in one convenient place, you can find out about the newest hearing assistive technology for your student, find technical specifications, get ideal microphone set-ups and find peer reviewed research. If you have questions about which set-up is best for your student,  send me an email at bill.bielski@phonak.com.   To take the next step in being in the hearing assistive technology loop, visit at: us.morethanahearingaid.com   Thanks for stopping... read more
ALD Tech Re-Boot: Part 2.5

ALD Tech Re-Boot: Part 2.5

As promised let’s talk about the Phonak Roger Pen: It comes as no surprise that Comfort Audio isn’t the only manufacturer doing incredible things in the world of assistive technology. Phonak, a leader in FM technology for decades has developed a completely new type wireless transmission protocol, named “Roger”. Roger products are a technology that features adaptive, wireless transmission on the 2.4 GHz band. Roger technology hops frequency to frequency automatically to ensure there is never any interference. What this means for you and your students is you’ll never have to worry about channel planning or poor signal quality. In addition, Roger technology features the best automatic and adaptive noise reduction available today. This ensures your student will get the benefit of an improved signal to noise ratio not only due to proximity to the speaker, but also because of noise reduction. Phonak technology allows for multiple Bluetooth connections for cell phone use, TV connectivity, computer connectivity and audio input for listening to other media. Featured Phonak Roger mic: Roger Pen • Ideal for lecture/1 on 1 • Dynamic high noise situations • Automatic noise reduction and gain settings Be sure to stop by for the final installment of our ALD Tech Reboot!   Additional product notes: Comfort Audio and Phonak Roger products are compatible with virtually every make and model of hearing aid or cochlear implant. Systems are expandable to accommodate multiple users within the same classroom. Lastly, both new systems are significantly more sleek in design, in line with the look and feel of modern technology.... read more
ALD Tech Re-Boot: Part 2

ALD Tech Re-Boot: Part 2

In part 2 of our assistive technology reboot, let’s talk about what’s new in the industry. Gone are the days of relying on basic analog or digital FM technology. No longer should your students be worried about a noisy signal, limited range, dropouts or delay.Comfort Audio, an industry leader in FM technology, created a completely updated digital radio technology. At the heart of the redesigned was technology was “Secure Stream Technology” or SST. This breakthrough digital processing eliminates the concerns and pitfalls that previously plagued traditional FM systems. SST features ensure no transmission noise, so your student hear the professor and their classmates with excellent clarity. With SST range has improved up to 100 feet while also eliminating any transmission delay between instruments. That means you can be certain your student doesn’t always have to sit front and center, and will hear speech in real time. Maybe most important is the improved linear dynamic range compared to traditional FM systems. What this means for your student is optimal access to ALL speech sounds necessary for understanding. Comfort Audio technology allows for multiple Bluetooth connections for cell phone use, TV connectivity, computer connectivity and audio input for listening to other media. Featured Comfort Audio mic: DC10 Table Top Microphone • Ideal for group and discussion sections • Stationary noise situations • Perceptual Speech Enhancement Check back soon for a continuation of our series on new ALD technology. Up next: Phonak... read more
ADA 25th Anniversary – Hearing Assitive Tech Re-Boot

ADA 25th Anniversary – Hearing Assitive Tech Re-Boot

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The ADA initiative laid the groundwork that has provided accessible accommodations to countless Americans in both the work place and post-secondary education throughout this past quarter century. ADA constructs provide accommodation to a wide range of disabilities and amongst the most prevalent is hearing loss. Indeed, based on research from Johns Hopkins Medicine, 48 million Americans report some degree of hearing loss. Of that 48 million, 60% of individuals with hearing loss are either in the work force or education setting. In short, there is a huge number of individuals that can benefit from assistive hearing accommodations. The spirit of the ADA is that of innovation. In that same spirit it’s time to revise our current picture of hearing accommodations for the classroom. While accommodation certainly can take more than one form, let’s focus now on assistive listening devices, or FM systems. Traditional analog and early digital FM systems have been around for decades and have been a revelation for understanding in challenging listening situations. That being said, these systems are large in size, lack clear-stable sound transmission, lack noise reduction capabilities, and have an unattractive appearance, amongst other downsides. To make matters worse, you had to be a relative expert to get the FM systems working effectively. In my experience many accommodations coordinators are still relying upon this dated FM technology. In the past years, exciting new FM technology standards have been developed. Amongst the advantages are adaptive noise reduction, faster transmission times, fewer dropouts, smaller-modern design, no channel planning and unprecedented connectivity to other devices.... read more