8 Handy Gadgets That Will Help You Hear Better
It's not just the elderly that experience the loss of hearing. We boomers spent a good deal of our youths blasting our auditory hair cells to bits with the Rolling Stones et als. Hearing aids are not cheap and may not even be suitable for everyone, having their own drawbacks, but there are plenty of gadgets available that can help hard-of-hearing folks in specific situations like watching TV, conversation, hearing signals in your home or car, or talking on the phone, and they're helpful even if you do use hearing aids.
Amplification For Conversation and Environment
Whether they wear hearing aids or not, the Williams Sound Pocket Talker System is a favorite among customers. The microphone picks up relatively nearby sounds, including dining room talk and even TV sound, and enables amplification that's clear as well as louder. Great to carry in the car to amplify radio and help with environmental sounds such as beeping horns and sirens. Some use the Williams instead of a hearing aid. This model has a mic jack and an earphone jack, so you can interchange parts if you need to.
The SuperEar claims to amplify sound up to 50 decibels which would help those with moderate hearing loss significantly and might even help those with severe hearing loss, especially if they also use hearing aids. Less expensive than the Williams Sound Pocket Talker System, it is not as powerful, but an advantage of the SuperEar is that it has a separate microphone that you can place wherever you need it. For example, if you are in a busy restaurant with a colleague, you can place the microphone between the two of you and it will amplify the other person's voice, rather than all the ambient noise in the restaurant. This comes in handy whether or not you wear hearing aids.
Amplification for TV
3. TV Ears
Probably the most popular personal amplification system for TV viewers, TV Ears are an affordable and effective system that enable dual control of the sound. You can turn the sound all the way up on the TV Ears and keep the TV volume way down so no one else can hear it. I've purchased three sets of these so far - two sets for my Dad's two TVs and one set for my husband and I, so that he can watch TV in bed while I read. They work and are good for the price, but the earpieces themselves are uncomfortable and the ear tips that come with the set are worthless. We use cotton to support the earpiece and don't spend the outrageous prices to replace the ear tips.
Amplification for TV and Music
Sennheisers. If you walk too far away from the base, you might get some static, and the headphones are not that comfortable, but if you are in the same room the sound will be great and you can fiddle with some cloth padding to make the headphones tolerable.
Home Signal Amplification
(Doorbells and Telephone Rings)
The Walker Clarity amplifies your land line telephone ringer by up to 25 decibels and it works on cordless phones. Plugs into the wall jack so your phone jack plugs into it. The Walker Clarity also has a small red flashing light that accompanies the ring and the ringer volume is adjustable.
6. Insteon Doorbell & Ring Alert Kit
Suppose you're listening to music or the TV while someone is ringing the doorbell? This handy Insteon Doorbell and Ring Alert Kit allows you to connect two doorbells and one land line phone to a light or set of lights that will flash on and off when they ring, so you get a visual effect as well as an auditory one. You won't miss a visitor or an important call.
Closed captions are available on TV; why not on telephones? Sure enough, the Hamilton Cap-Tel transcribes your voice calls into written captions, making sound double-easy to hear. What you can't hear, you can fill-in with the words printed in front of you. Ingenious, huh? The Hamilton Cap-Tel also provides volume amplification.
8. Cell Phone Apps For Hearing Impaired
Texting and special cell phone apps, like voice to text apps, have made cell phone and smart phone communication much easier for hard of hearing and deaf consumers to communicate. iPhone apps are numerous and most are free to download for iPhone and other Apple devices. If you're an Android user, it's probably easiest to check the apps available to you, particularly voice to text, on the website of the particular phone you are using. Here are some links to columns that suggest particular apps for hearing impaired Android users:
The Top 8 Android Apps For People Who Are Deaf Or Hard of Hearing
3 Mobile Apps For Converting Voice To Texts
Best Android Apps For The Hard of Hearing
I hope the above gadgets and apps help make your adjustment to hearing loss a bit easier. As one gadget-rater confessed, he was getting used to not hearing and for the most part was enjoying not having to listen to certain things, but he really missed others, and was happy that there were options for people like him to pick and choose what they listened to....Teaser image courtesty of Esterase
Keeping you posted....