by Neil Bauman, Ph.D.
A person explained:
I have behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids that are programmed to amplify high frequencies only. I would like to listen to an iPod but would need a device that would use both my BTE hearing aids and my ears themselves? Do you know of any such device?
Interesting question. You obviously have the typical ski-slope hearing loss where you hear low frequency sounds at normal or near-normal levels (hence the reason your hearing aids are not programmed to amplify low-frequency sounds) and at the same time, you don’t hear the high frequency sounds much at all (so those frequencies need a lot of amplification).
I see two solutions to your problem.
First, if you have open-fitted ear molds, which let the low-frequency sounds pass through to your ears unimpeded while passing the amplified high-frequency sounds from your hearing aids, you could wear big headphones that fit over both your ears and your hearing aids. This way, your hearing aids will hear and amplify the high frequency sounds while your open-fitted ear molds will allow the low-frequency sounds to pass through. You shouldn’t experience any feedback if your hearing aids have feedback suppression built in. This is a somewhat clunky solution in my opinion but it will work.
Second, a more elegant solution is to have your audiologist program the t-coil memory in your hearing aids to amplify all frequencies of sound (since none will be coming through the air because the iPod doesn’t have any speakers), and then use Music Links or a neckloop to couple the iPod to your hearing aids. Both of these devices work very well with iPods—at least they do with mine.
This way, when using your hearing aids in the microphone mode you’d hear via your hearing aids (high-frequency sounds) and your open-fitted ear molds (low-frequency sounds).
However, when you switch over to t-coil mode, you’d hear only via your hearing aids—but since this program is now set to amplify all frequencies of sounds (less for low-frequency sounds and more for high-frequency sounds) you would hear all frequencies of sound when listening to your iPod via Music Links or a neckloop.
Note that if you want to hear true stereo sound, then you need to use the Music Links as these are true stereo devices. A neckloop will only give you dual-mono sound.