Hearing Aid Selection
Hearing aids are sound-amplifying devices designed to help people who have impaired hearing. An audiological evaluation must be completed prior to the purchase of a hearing aid. The results of this testing will indicate the type and degree of hearing loss, the need for medical treatment and/or referral to a licensed physician, the candidacy for use of amplification, and the benefit of auditory rehabilitation.
Once hearing aid candidacy is verified, the audiologist will counsel you regarding amplification options. The Auburn University Speech and Hearing Clinic dispenses state of the art hearing aid technology from a variety of manufacturers. There are different types and styles of hearing aids with numerous special features. The audiologist will help you to select the appropriate hearing aid fitting, based on the audiometric test findings, your communication needs, and your lifestyle.
Hearing Aid Dispensing
When the hearing aids are dispensed, you are oriented to the use, care, and maintenance of the instruments. You will practice using the hearing aids. The audiologist will verify that sounds are audible and comfortable, speech is understandable, and noise is not too loud.
Hearing aids are fit with a thirty-day adjustment period. You will return to the Clinic for a hearing aid check about two weeks after receiving your hearing aids. During this visit, the clinician will ensure you are using the hearing aids properly, the instruments are physically comfortable, and your ability to hear has improved. Any necessary adjustments can be made at this time. Two weeks later, you will return for another hearing aid check to make certain you are satisfied and are benefitting from the hearing aids.
Hearing aids are dispensed with a two year service contract. Follow-up services, hearing aid checks, and annual hearing tests are provided during this period at no additional charge. In addition, the manufacturer provides a repair warranty and accidental damage/loss/theft coverage.
The Speech and Hearing Clinic offers hearing aid walk-in clinics on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons for hearing aid maintenance, hearing aid adjustments, and minor hearing aid repairs. No appointment is necessary. Contact the Speech and Hearing Clinic at (334) 844-9600 for hearing aid walk-in clinic times.
Digital Hearing Instruments
Digital hearing aids are like miniature digital computers. The hearing aid microphone picks up the sound, and converts the incoming sounds to numbers, which are analyzed according to rules called algorithms. The digitized numbers are manipulated based on the algorithm, reconverted to an analog form (sound), and delivered to the ear. The result is a clear signal with minimal distortion.
Digital hearing aids detect and process sound faster than the blink of an eye. Some digital hearing aids can sample sound one million times per second and analyze these sounds 32,000 times per second. The audiologist adjusts the digital hearing aid with a computer using the manufacturer’s software. The hearing aid automatically adjusts to the listening environment according to the parameters programmed into the chip, which controls the hearing aid. Sound is reproduced at a comfortable level for the listener, not too loud or too quiet.
Assistive Listening Devices
The Americans with Disabilities Act (1990) requires communication accessibility for those individuals with hearing loss. Use of assistive listening devices (ALDs) by persons with hearing impairment helps to accomplish this goal. There are three types of ALDs: 1) those that assist in face-to-face communication and with listening to the television; 2) those that assist in telephone communication, and 3) those that assist in awareness of environmental sounds. ALDs can be very simple and inexpensive or very elaborate and more costly. For example, a portable phone amplifier, powered by batteries, can be carried in the pocket or purse by a person with hearing impairment. When that person wants to use the telephone, they simply slip the device over the phone receiver to listen to amplified speech over the telephone. ALDs can be more elaborate such as listening systems for churches, meeting rooms and classrooms. ALDs should be fit to the individual and delivered by an audiologist who has the professional expertise to make sure the device is compatible for a person’s hearing aid.
Auditory rehabilitation involves assisting children and adults with hearing impairments to overcome their disability to help them meet the daily communication needs. Hearing loss that is present at birth is called congenital hearing loss. With newborn hearing screening programs, many children with congenital hearing loss are identified at birth so that aural rehabilitation efforts with these children and their families can begin as early as possible. Audiologists and speech-language pathologists work closely with the child and family to maximize the residual hearing through placement of hearing aids, auditory training and speech-language therapy. Adults who acquire a hearing loss also benefit from aural rehabilitation involving placement of hearing aids, speechreading techniques, assertive listening strategies, and use of assistive listening devices.
Noise-induced hearing loss is one of our nation’s worst health epidemics. Audiologists often work with industry and the military to ensure that our nation’s workers and servicemen and women are not exposed to excessive noise levels. Workplace noise levels exposing persons to more than 90 decibels of sound over an eight-hour period can result in noise-induced hearing loss. Audiologists assist in noise measurement, control, and abatement. Audiologists manage industrial hearing technicians in monitoring worker’s hearing through yearly testing and education regarding the importance of hearing conservation. Workers exposed to high noise levels must wear hearing protection devices to protect their hearing.
Musicians practice and perform with different musical instruments in a variety of settings. They can be exposed to high levels of sound for long periods of time. Musician earplugs can attenuate sound with minimal effect on tone quality. Audiologists also encourage individuals to practice hearing conservation at home by avoiding hazardous noise and using hearing protection.
Last Updated: September 15, 2015