by Neil Bauman, Ph.D.
A lady asked,
I was wondering if buying the PockeTalker would help me instead of purchasing hearing aids? I have a mild sensorineural hearing loss (25 to 40 decibels) and I have had trouble understanding speech. I am going back to school in the fall and need to be able to hear the instructor.
Essentially a PockeTalker is really just an old body-style hearing aid like people wore back in the late 1940s and 1950s. Like the hearing aids of the 50s, they do help you hear, and don’t cost an arm and a leg either! If you have the money, I’d recommend getting hearing aids and then using assistive devices coupled to them to help you hear in difficult listening situations.
If you don’t have the money, then you can use assistive devices such as the PockeTalker at a great savings to your pocketbook.
I use my PockeTalker all the time. In fact, I have two PockeTalkers I use as well as my hearing aids. Often, with the right microphone, I hear better with my PockeTalkers than I do with my hearing aids because I know how to get the best performance out of these wonderful devices.
To hear the best, you want the microphone of whatever device you use to be close to the speaker’s lips—and you can’t really do that with the microphone that comes with the PockeTalker. Therefore, I purchased two additional microphones that do specialized jobs. I unplug the microphone that comes with the PockeTalker and use one of these two microphones.
If I am sitting down—such as in a car or in a restaurant I use a lapel microphone, I clip the lapel microphone on my partner and hear very well. If I am walking around, or where the speaker is not right beside me, I use the Super-directional handheld microphone. Both of these microphones have cords so you can aim them at the speaker’s face. Also, both are directional so they don’t pick up all the background noise like the microphone that comes with the PockeTalker does.
In a classroom setting, if you have trouble hearing the instructor, a much better solution than using a PockeTalker is to have the instructor wear an FM transmitter and you listen via the corresponding FM receiver. That way, the microphone is right at the instructor’s lips and you’ll hear beautiful clear sound. The problem with this is that then you won’t hear your classmates remarks. A way around this is to use the Comfort Contego FM system and also get the Super-directional handheld microphone. The Contego receiver has two volume controls—one for the FM side (the instructor’s microphone) and one for the external microphone. That way you can aim the handheld microphone at whichever classmate is speaking (and turn that volume way up if they are not near you). At the same time, you will still clearly hear the instructor. You can see the Comfort Contego FM system here.
Note: if you get the Comfort Contego system, you do not need a PockeTalker as the Contego receiver doubles as both a PockeTalker and an FM receiver at the same time.