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Wednesday, 10 February 2016 20:46

Applewatch Awesome but Hearing Aids Disappoint

Written by  Colin Hetherington
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I recently received an applewatch from The Molly Watt Trust, via their GlobalGiving project.

I love gadgets. I have ushers syndrome type 3 which is gradually robbing me of both my hearing and my sight.  My vision is now about 3 degrees and my hearing which is moderate to severe and will get worse.

There is nothing to aid my eyesight but thankfully I use NHS Phonak hearing aids to hear, in a small way they compensate a little for my blindness, life is very challenging.  I also rely on Jason my guide dog.

As my condition deteriorated I was unable to continue with my career.

As a result I now keep myself busy travelling around carrying out charity work for various charities.

Travelling is very challenging, however, I am very determined.

I recently upgraded my phone to the iPhone 6s plus yes it's big but I can see it.  The accessibility is fantastic and there are so many useful apps.  I really don't know how I managed before.

I also have the latest Phonak hearing aids from the NHS and a Phonak ComPilot neck loop which works brilliantly with my iPhone and iPad so really important to me for simple things like taking calls while I work my guide dog with ease.  I can listen to music or watch a video on my phone in a crowded place or on the train, the sound streaming directly to my hearing aids.

I had read so much about the applewatch and couldn't wait to set it up and synchronise everything.

I’ve become quite good at ‘pairing’ and ‘syncing’ and I could not work out why I could not answer a phone call on my applewatch, I fiddled around, I contacted both Connevans and  Phonak, to find out what I was doing wrong to eventually be told by Phonak that their equipment is not compatible with applewatch I am absolutely gutted that I am not stream sound from the applewatch apps using speech, yes tactics are fantastic but being able to stream sound directly to my hearing aids would allow me full accessibility to many more apps.

I really struggle to hear a call on my applewatch also I don't really want everybody else to hear my conversations meaning I am missing out on accessibility that would make a difference to my daily life.

Thankfully the maps on the applewatch use taptics, something new to me and brilliant for the deafblind as it vibrates in sequences for turning left or right.

If I could get sound streamed direct to my hearing aids that would be perfect.

I am an independent guy and I like to plan as many routes as possible on my own, the last thing I want is to look vulnerable in a city with a guide dog.

My verdict so far,  "applewatch is brilliant, it is making my life easier" but Phonak hearing aids and ComPilot are a let down.

It is so frustrating that I could have the very best connectivity and accessibility but sadly not with the hearing aids and equipment I have .

Disappointing.

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