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Tuesday, 02 August 2016 10:05

I was hopeful but disappointed

My hopeful journey into the Wireless Bluetooth hearing aid world.   With Danalogic ifit cs71w hearing aids, Resound phone clip+ and a mini mic.

I started off by asking my local NHS  audiologist for wireless enabled hearing aids.  I wanted to have the function available to take calls straight to my hearing aids from my mobile and even play music without wires and to hear music properly for the first time.......what a dream come true!

I was fitted with the danalogic cs71w, during this I learnt that they don't automatically offer this function. The nhs is simply only there to provide the necessary hearing aids to get you through daily living not keep up with technology per se.  Majority patients are elderly too apparently!

If I wanted to go wireless I had to pay up to £250 for an extra piece of equipment to connect my phone to my hearing aids.   This I could not afford to do plus what if it turned out to be a complete flop, I'd be sick having spent that much money.

Luckily for me the Molly Watt Trust were able to source the 2 pieces of equipment I wanted to try from Resound and I've had them on trial for 3 months.

They arrived, I set up the phone clip with hearing aids and phone  and decided to try music first.   Well it was the strangest thing on the planet because I had to ask my 6 year old son if he could hear the music because I couldn't tell if it was working, where the music was coming from!  It turned out it was working it was absolutely amazing I started laughing because only I could hear the music plus I could hear my son talking at the same time too.  My normal means of listening to music is the volume on full blast  with in the ear headphones and I would get a muffled version of the songs.  I've never been able to hear lyrics etc.  I tested phonecalls with family members and it was great to be handsfree.

Next, I tried the mini mic with my tv. I'd stopped watching TV because subtitles aren't fast enough, the sound doesn't carry well or clear enough and Lip reading is hit and miss especially with dark scenes or action movies so I gave up trying.  

I only attempted this a few times because it gave me an extreme headache using this function and I still couldn't follow the programmes.   It was too much hardwork and not enjoyable experience for me at all.   :-(  I think the mini mic would be best for one on one use in a lecture or noisy restaurant.

I went back to concentrating on the phone clip, I tried to activate the mute function to cut off surrounding sounds when taking calls or listening to music I wanted to have the choice.  This meant I had to go back to the hospital to be programmed for this function on my hearing aids.

It led to a learning curve for my audiologist who was absolutely fantastic and couldn't do enough to try and give me what I wanted within her means.  It turned out there wasn't a specific mute button in the programming for my hearing aids, so we tried a different method while she contacted Resound for advice.   Our attempts failed and she later emailed me to say that due to the phone clip being 2nd generation and my hearing aids not being as advanced I was unable to use this function on the phone clip.

To sum up my entire experience it has been disappointing. I carried on trying the phone clip but the sound of the music was tinny and horrible sounding to me and it gave me headaches.  I am so glad I'm not out of pocket finding this out.   The NHS is not equipped to provide the necessary hearing aids for the deafblind to utilise the latest technology.   Nor am I financially equipped to get the best hearing aids for me.  I'm not happy with these hearing aids they need so much tweaking to stop me suffering I am unable to pinpoint all the issues with my audiologist plus with the waiting list to see her it's a long drawn out process.  So, for now it's been an experience but it all remains a dream.

I would like to say a huge thank you to The Molly Watt Trust for giving me this opportunity and my audiologist for doing her utmost to give me the best sound she could. 

I recently read a piece virtually comparing hearing aids with earBuds / EarPods and hearing aids with glasses!

I read the piece several times and still thought it strange.  I'm 21 years old and have worn hearing aids since 18 months old.  Even in my time hearing aids have come a long way, in fact with this comparison to earbuds / EarPods the look appears to have come full circle however the technical ability has improved tenfold.

I can remember being shown a picture of a friend wearing hearing aids probably 30 years ago.  A big bulky box worn on the chest with wires to the ears, I felt so lucky to not have those but the hearing aids that sit on my ears and attached to ear moulds.

My issue from about 3 or 4 was that I wanted coloured hearing aids not the skin coloured ones that old people wore in fact up until I was about 10 or 11 I insisted that both hearing aids and ear moulds were pimped up in bright colours, being young and female I wanted to make my hearing aids look cool, trendy and fashionable, something to be proud of, just like being deaf.

Back then it was all about the look rather than what the hearing aid was actually doing for me.

So I disagree that hearing aids couldn't be made to look fashionable, even then, yes more limitations than glasses but they could be made to look how I wanted them to.  

For me the only difference was that wearing hearing aids was more rare at school than wearing glasses.

In the early days I wore a radio aid in as trendy a bumbag as possible, I had just about every colour, shape and size you could think of thinking back my friends thought it quite cool, the wires I hated that attached to my hearing aid via a special connector (a shoe) made it look as if I had and was listening to what was then called an MP3 player, back then they too had wires. 

I hated the wired connection but my friends thought it quite cool!  Thankfully as time went on I was delighted those horrible wires disappeared and wireless radio aids became available.  

The fact hearing aids have gotten smaller and more discreet is a bonus and I no longer wear brightly coloured ones the most important thing is that my hearing aids now allow me to hear as best I can based on my level of hearing loss and in as many situations as possible and it is this assistive technology that costs. 

The hearing aids I wear today, Linx2 are tiny and along with the amazing access to sound and connectivity they give me they do allow me to stream music direct, however thankfully that is just a tiny part of their capabilities as being deafblind my need is far greater.

I read "Today's hearing aids are overpriced and unimpressive".

I totally disagree I was born deaf and registered deafblind with Usher Syndrome at 14 years old and I've never been so impressed in my life, the bigger issue is making this amazing and enabling assistive technology available to more.

The best technology will always come at a price and for people like myself be a necessity in allowing accessibility to the world that most take for granted.

My Linx2 hearing aids pair perfectly with my apple products and allow bluetooth connectivity to all sorts of things, they  enable me to do so much more than listen to music, they are as I've said before "Life Changers"

Small and wireless is fantastic but earbuds / EarPods my Linx2 are definitely not!



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