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Hearing Impairment Aids

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Hearing Impairment Aids
The following is a brief guide to some of the many devices that are available to help people with impaired hearing to live more independently. However, please note that every individual's needs are different. Customers should base their purchasing decisions on the user's particular needs and preferences and, where appropriate, upon advice from medical and care professionals.

What Kind of Aids are Available?

People with reduced hearing ability face challenges in a variety of everyday scenarios, from making or answering telephones to recognising when someone may be calling at the door.

Fortunately, manufacturers have developed an array of useful aids that help such people and their carers. They can range from simple aids to convenience, such as hearing aid-compatible devices for televisions and computers, to invaluable safety aids that provide emergency communications in the event of an emergency.

The following are broad categories of helpful devices for people with impaired hearing.

  • Telephone ring amplifiers - electronic devices that sound a loud alert when they detect an incoming call. Many are powered by the phone system itself so require no extra batteries or cables. Look out for amplifiers that have additional alert features, such as a flashing light or a port that enables connection to a vibrating pillow pad.Ring amplifiers are often built into the next category of auditory aid: amplified telephone systems.
  • Amplified telephones - available in corded, cordless and mobile forms, these fully featured devices usually combine an amplified ringer with an in-built receiver amplifier that boosts the incoming sound very substantially. Useful features to consider include a hands-free function and compatibility with hearing aid with a T-coil setting. Many such phones also double as an emergency call system that, when activated, will send a pre-recorded message to a series of pre-programmed numbers in order to summon help.

  • Doorbell amplifiers - often wireless for ease of installation, these electronic devices sound a very loud alert when a visitor presses the doorbell outside, and they may also come complete with a flashing light as an additional means of attracting attention. Wireless systems can often work with multiple alarm units, which can be placed in different parts of the home.

  • Induction loop systems - wireless devices that transmit a signal directly to anyone within range who has a hearing aid with a T-coil setting. Suchsystems can be used with microphones - e.g. to enable people to listen to a visiting speaker, or with a variety of home entertainments systems including televisions, radios, music players and computers.
  • Extra loud alarm clocks - designed to ensure that the user never accidentally oversleeps, these alarm clocks invariably feature an extra loud alert tone or radio feature. In addition, many systems will also incorporate strobe lights and connections for vibrating pad accessories that can be placed under a pillow or chair cushion.

Important Features

  • People's hearing range can change over time - not only in terms of volume but also in terms of pitch, so look for devices that have both volume and tone adjustment. This helps to ensure that the sound is matched to the user's range and maximises the useful lifespan of the product.
  • Many devices feature extra large, high contrast controls to suit people who may also suffer from partial sight or limited dexterity (e.g. due to arthritis).
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