Archive for March, 2007

Hearing Aids

A hearing aid is a device used to help hard-of-hearing people hear sounds better. In the past, a funnel-like amplification cone, called an “ear trumpet” or “ear horn” was used. Also sometimes used was a desk with a built-in amplifier into which a microphone and earphones could be plugged; these worked better than passive ear trumpets but were not portable.

Now, however, the most common style is a small electronic device that fits into the wearer’s ear. The first variety of this device had a rectangular battery pack connected by a thin wire, intended to be held in a pocket. Such “body aids,” though much more portable than the desk type, still suffered significant disadvantages due to sub-optimal microphone placement. Since the microphone was not near the user’s head, it was susceptible to interfering sounds such as clothing-noise. Sound input was also distorted if the microphone was located below the mouth of a person with whom the user was conversing.

During the mid- to late 20th century, hearing aids that were carried in pockets were replaced by a more inconspicuous sort of model in which small zinc-air batteries were placed in the inserted unit itself. Cutting-edge technology allows for hearing aids so small and stylish they can be mistaken for wireless headsets.

Types of hearing aids

Body worn aids

This was the first type of hearing aid, and thanks to developments in technology they are now rarely used. These aids consist of a case containing the components of amplification and an ear mold connected to the case by a cord. The case is about the size of a pack of cards and is worn in the pocket or on a belt. Because of their large size, body worn aids are capable of large amounts of amplification and were once used for profound hearing losses. Today, they have largely been replaced by BTEs.Behind the ear aids (BTE)

BTE aids have a small plastic case that fits behind the ear and conducts sound to the ear canal, usually through an earmold that is custom made. BTEs can be used for mild to profound hearing losses and are especially useful for children because of their durability and ability to connect to assistive listening devices such as classroom FM systems. Their colors range from very inconspicuous skin tones for adults to bright colors and optional decorations for children. Recent innovations in BTEs include miniature “invisible” BTEs with thin hair-like sound tubes (see open-fit devices below). These are often less visible than ITEs and some keep the ear canal more open so listeners may still utilise their residual natural hearing (most helpful for those with normal hearing in the lower frequencies). Ideal for high frequency losses, these miniature versions are generally used for mild to moderate hearing loss. Continue

OU-Chillicothe pair advocates for deaf

CHILLICOTHE — A student-mentor program at Ohio University-Chillicothe didn’t just help freshman Cyle Long with his studies when it paired the deaf student with an upperclassman who could translate in sign language.

Long and his mentor, a 50-year-old who has a deaf son, bonded over their common professional goal of advocating for the deaf.
  
“I don’t want deaf people to feel like they’re all alone,” said Long, who has only partial hearing from an inner-ear implant.

Through high school, Long had interpreting help and an education plan for special needs students. When he got to the university, he had trouble finding people to take notes and translate for him, and it was too difficult to split his attention between a professor, interpreter and an assistant during classes.

The university’s pilot mentoring program seemed like a good fit, and he was paired with senior Jill Thompson, a psychology major with a deaf son.

“I’ve been signing for 20 years, so I can tell when he’s starting to get lost,” Thompson said. “I can just look at him out of the corner of my eye and tell.”

The pairing is one of about ten mentorships that administrators set up during winter quarter at the university’s satellite campus about 45 miles south of Columbus. The program trains upperclassmen to help students who may have trouble adjusting to university environments.

“There’s a real need to have people who can help,” said Ann Rumble, faculty supervisor and assistant psychology professor. “I think colleges and universities can be intimidating. Students don’t always want to approach us.”

Now Thompson attends class with Long, taking notes and interpreting when he needs it. He learned sign language first and treats English like a second language because he didn’t learn it until the sixth grade when he got a cochlear implant.

Thompson has noticed changes since they started working together — he’s more outgoing and willing to ask questions in class.

“The longer I go, the better I’ll get,” Long said.

The two share a common goal to advocate for deaf people despite having different academic ambitions. Thompson is a psychology major. Long wants to use his degree to teach sign language to high school students, a decision he made after he saw his cousin, who also is deaf, being teased by classmates.