Pop-up Hearing Technology Problems

In News, Weekly Stories by Linda Bilodeau

It happened again this morning. I was watching a news video on my iPad when I noticed my husband moving his lips. He was trying to talk to me but hooked up to my pad, I couldn’t hear him. Let me back up. My audiologist has dubbed me his Apple gal. I have made-for-iPhone hearing aids, an iPhone, iPad, and a device connected to my television allowing me to hear dialogue. All this technology has improved my hearing ability but creates a problem. When I’m on my phone, pad, or watching television, I can’t hear anything but the sound coming from those devices.

I’ve explained the complications of my hearing to my husband and how my technology works, but he forgets. Unless he sees me engrossed in a video or watching TV, he doesn’t know that I can’t hear him. My hearing, he says, is a game of chance. Perhaps I’ll know that he’s talking to me, perhaps I won’t.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. I fell in love with hearing technology and strive to keep myself updated with anything and everything that’s available within my economic means. I couldn’t watch television without closed captioning, but now, with my streaming device, I can hear what the actors and actresses are saying. Ditto for the phone. I enjoy talking with family and friends scattered throughout the country. Smart phone and Blue Tooth technology has made that possible. My iPad has opened up the world of podcasts, facetime, and other personalized hearing opportunities. During my last hearing exam, my audiologist noticed that my word recognition scores improved. He credits technology. He tells me that the more sound I can bring into my ears, the more my brain will become accustomed to hearing those sounds. My audiologist encourages technology. It’s exercise for the ears, he says.

Unfortunately technology isn’t perfect. The folks at Apple and the hearing aid manufacturers have not figured out a way to allow users to hear conversation while you’re listening to audio on your device. Though some sound might bleed in, usually, you have to disconnect from the device to hear what’s going on around you.

Back to me and my husband enjoying a cup of coffee together while reading the newspaper online. I wonder if I should signal him that I’m ready to dive into a news video and let him know that my hearing is temporarily off limits. Perhaps a raise of the hand, or a gentle reminder. Honey, if you talk to me right now you’ll be talking to the wind. How can a gal with a hearing problem cope?

These pop-up hearing problems are not an end to the hearing world. Hearing technology advances all the time, I know hearing aid and cochlear implant manufacturers will discover more and more ways to help those of us with hearing loss seamlessly hear. As I meander through the hearing world, I am grateful for everything they’ve done. I’m especially grateful for my husband’s patience and kindness in helping me hear.