The difficulties and challenges one must face with hearing loss, go far beyond not being able to hear certain sounds at certain volumes. Hearing loss impacts one’s ability to clearly communicate with others, especially while using devices such as a phone, tablet, or computer.
Even with hearing aids, it can be difficult to engage in conversation while using these devices, as you are required to listen to sound produced through a device that is often not optimized for someone with hearing loss.
Hearing aids are designed to amplify sounds in the user’s environment, which allows them to hear and respond to various cues. However, challenges do exist when it comes to clarity, or understanding speech. Devices such as a phone, tablet, or computer, provide the with the ability to turn up the volume loud enough to be heard, but often the sounds or speech, are not necessarily clear enough to be understood.
Sound Quality Through Hearing Aids
Hearing aids alone don’t necessarily guarantee understanding and meaningful communication. Ironically, these gaps in clarity are often technology-induced. For example, sound quality through devices is defined by audio reproduction accuracy: audio from TV shows, movies, video games and even speech may be either mixed in production or decoded as output by device speakers.
Frequency, inherent distortion and different audio formats impact our hearing experience: the quality of sound produced is often not the same when received or heard. These distortions are even more pronounced in devices that can only deliver sound at mediocre fidelity. Only a dedicated speaker system can reproduce audio that sounds almost exactly like the original.
Hearing Aids and the Listening Environment
The ears detect sound but did you know that listening is a lot more involved? Listening is not a single-sensory experience: the visual environment plays a huge role in understanding speech and other auditory signals. This is why movies and TV shows are both visual and auditory, and the most engaged conversations are in-person, involving both speech and body language.
Add to that, factors like distance from the sound source, reverberation and background noise also impact sound quality. These environmental factors determine how well sound is heard and whether it is understood and interpreted correctly.
Better Hearing with Hearing Aids
Audiologists and Hearing Instrument Practitioners prescribe hearing aids based on lifestyle and listening needs. When hearing aids are properly fit, they can significantly improve your overall listening experience. It’s like having the right tools — once you know how to use them effectively, you will achieve the desired results. Hearing aids that are properly adjusted allow you to watch your favourite TV show, without missing a beat!
Choose Livio AI Hearing Aids
You deserve the best, to hear the world around you and experience it in crystal clear sound. The Livio AI family of hearing aids are the best and smartest technology in the market. Built with dual-radio wireless technology, twin compressors, embedded inertial sensors and AI (Artificial Intelligence), Livio hearing aids can easily detect your listening environment and optimize speech and sound quality as needed.
TV and Remote Accessories
Hearing aids work best in live environments with direct or ambient sound. This is because wearers are much closer to the sound source — such as in conversations — so the sound detected by hearing aids results from direct input. When watching TV or video calling, even the best hearing aids could use a helping hand.
Remote and TV accessories can be paired with hearing aids to manage various settings such as volume and controls such as; play/pause. These streamers are designed to improve sound quality, which, in the case of streamed sound, is often affected by factors like distance, reverberation and background noise in the listening environment. With a streaming accessory, the sound is streamed directly from the device to your hearing aids.
Understand Hearing Aid Controls
Like streaming accessories, smart hearing aids can be managed and optimized to better listen through smartphone apps. Thrive Hearing Control is one of the most widely downloaded apps by hearing aid wearers. This popular smartphone app allows users to create custom memory environments for any listening environment or situation.
For example, the TV viewing mode offers controls like an equalizer, noise reduction and microphone mode to optimize every user’s listening experience. It also works with a TV streamer to easily adjust the volume of the streamed sound and reduce noise by offsetting the hearing aid microphone input.
Captioning in Video Conferencing
Listening is not purely an auditory experience — it’s also supported by visual cues, such as lip-reading captions and subtitles. This applies across many listening environments, not just when you’re watching TV. In fact, captioning can go a long way in supporting virtual meetings and making remote collaboration more inclusive and accessible — a workplace reality heightened by the increasing numbers of people working from home due to COVID-19.
Try these captioning tools to make virtual meetings more inclusive and accessible, especially for hearing aid users:
Communication Access Real-Time Translation is the gold standard in video captioning. This requires typing a real-time transcript of the call, which then appears at the bottom of the screen, similar to closed captioning on TVs.
Automatic Speech Recognition Captions work similarly to CART, but rather than live typing, captions are computer-generated. While accuracy may be an issue, the technology is rapidly improving to support auto-captioning. This feature is available on Google Meet and Microsoft Teams and through Business or Enterprise Zoom accounts.
Video conferencing platforms now make it easier to focus on a single person during a virtual meeting. It’s easy to get lost in the noise when you see many people talking at once, making it difficult or distracting to lip-read, or pick up body language cues. But, with speaker mode, it’s much easier to follow along with whoever is delivering a presentation or leading a meeting. Through speaker mode, their face is highlighted on screen, and hearing aid wearers have an easier time following the conversation by easily identifying who is speaking.
Not all speakers and microphones were created equal: sadly, computer speakers often have poor sound quality. Instead, use noise-cancelling headphones or tap into the Bluetooth connectivity function of your hearing aids to stream sound directly, at superior quality.
It would also be a lot more helpful to hearing aid users if their colleagues were encouraged to use headphones. Their built-in microphones reduce noise and the distance of the audio input, which vastly improves the listening experience.
Don’t Be Afraid to Self-Advocate
Even with great strides towards accessibility, many workplaces and entertainment content still have a ways to go in terms of inclusivity. Along with leveraging technology, it also helps to self-advocate.
This includes setting or asking for an agenda ahead of time so it’s easier to follow along in video conferences, as well as borrowing a colleague’s notes to fill in any blanks. These can also go a long way in changing workplace cultures to accommodate hearing disabilities and promote accessibility.