December 25, 2014: 11:02 am: Cell Phones

by Neil Bauman, Ph.D.

Years ago, about the time the dinosaurs stopped roaming the earth, I had a cell phone that worked wonderfully well for me. It’s secret was a special integrated amplifier called the “Chaamp” that provided me with more than enough amplification in spite of my severe hearing loss. I loved that cell phone/Chaamp combination and used it for a number of years.

Although it outlived the dinosaurs, I knew its days were numbered as advancing technology was quickly making it obsolete. Thus, I began looking around for a replacement. A Bluetooth headset was obviously the way to go—one that would work with all Bluetooth-equipped cell phones, no matter how fast technology kept changing. Unfortunately for me, there were two major problems. First, the Bluetooth headsets available did not work with hearing aids (they did not have t-coils), and second, they did not work without hearing aids either, as none of them had enough volume for me.

With nothing suitable available,  I approached Serene Innovations about my need for such a device—a device that would work with any Bluetooth-equipped cell phone, and that would have the volume I needed when I was not wearing my hearing aids.

Fortunately, Serene Innovations was interested and we worked together for a couple of years to design such a gizmo. I drew up the specifications—a wish list of what I wanted and needed in a Bluetooth cell phone amplifier. Eventually, that all came together and the “HearAll” was born.

While it was in final testing, Verizon suddenly quit supporting my dinosaur cell phone and instantly I was left without a means of hearing on a cell phone. I purchased a new smart phone—an iPhone 5s as it happened—but as I knew, it didn’t have enough volume for me. You can imagine how eagerly I was awaiting the imminent release of the new HearAll Model SA-40 cell phone amplifier that came out a couple of months later.

Not only does the HearAll help me hear on my cell phone, it also has a number of cool features just perfect for hard of hearing people. The HearAll is just like its name says, you can hear all. It is wonderfully versatile, whether you are wearing hearing aids, or just have your “broken” ears to hear with. As a result,  if you forget your hearing aids, they break, or you run out of batteries at an importune time, you can still use your cell phone if you have the HearAll with you.

The HearAll is designed, not only for hard of hearing people, but also for hearing people who have to hear under difficult listening conditions. For example, when there is a lot of background noise around, you simply crank up the volume until you can hear over the noise. At the same time, the soft flexible earphone “cup”, when pressed against your ear does a good job of helping keep all the extraneous racket out, again helping you hear better. Furthermore, if you’re like me and need more volume, you typically hold any phone tightly against your ear and the soft flexible “cup” doesn’t hurt your ear like hard plastic tends to do, especially on longer calls.

The HearAll has three different operating modes—handset mode, speakerphone mode and t-coil mode. In handset mode, you just hold it up to your ear like you’d do with any cell phone. With the convenient volume control buttons, you can quickly set the volume to whatever level you need.

Note: the HearAll should have all the volume you need. Unlike most Bluetooth devices, the HearAll provides up to 40 dB of amplification so you’ll be able to hear on your cell phone without straining.

In speakerphone mode you (and those with you) can listen to the caller with both ears—whether you have hearing aids with t-coils or not. Again, the convenient volume control lets you set the volume at the level you need (within reason).

Finally, in t-coil mode, it’s powerful t-coil couples with the t-coils in your hearing aids to let you hear beautiful, clear sound without all the extraneous racket around you affecting your hearing. And because your cell phone is not up by your hearing aids, you never get any interference from your cell phone like you might if your cell phone didn’t have a high enough( M4/T4) interference rating.

A cool feature is that when in t-coil mode the speaker is turned off so no one can ever overhear your conversations. Since we so often have to have a lot of volume in order to hear, any hearing people around us can easily overhear our private conversations. With the HearAll in t-coil mode, your conversations are totally private since you are hearing solely via your t-coil.

Note: in handset mode, just by pressing the earphone cup tightly against your ear, you can also prevent sound escaping so those nearby can’t overhear your conversation as much as before.

Another cool feature is that there is a earphone jack on the HearAll so you can plug in either standard stereo earbuds and hear with both ears (if you are not wearing hearing aids). Alternately, you can plug in devices such as the Music Links, switch your hearing aids to t-coil mode and hear with both ears. (Switch the HearAll into t-coil mode when you use the earphone jack–and again no one will be able to overhead your conversations as the speaker will be turned off.)

Note: hearing with both ears has two decided benefits. First, you can understand speech better than when just hearing with one ear. Thus you don’t have to strain as much, or ask for as many repeats. Second, you can hear better with less volume than you need when listening with one ear. For me, this makes all the difference between whether I get headaches when using the phone or not.

And talking about understanding speech better, the HearAll has a three-position tone control (located on the left side) so you can set it to where you understand speech the best. You can set it to have high-frequency emphasis, mid-range emphasis or low-frequency emphasis depending what sound frequencies you want to boost in order to understand speech better. Set it to whatever works best for you.

Another neat feature is that the HearAll has a mute button. If you want to say something to a nearby person and don’t want the person on the other end of the phone to hear you, simply press the mute button. The mute light will turn green and the person on the other end will be “locked out”. Press the mute button again to turn off the mute function and the green light will go out and you’ll be back in normal talk mode again.

The HearAll works with virtually all cell phones that have Bluetooth capabilities built in whether they are “smart” phones or “stupid” phones. Since most phones have Bluetooth built into them, it is unlikely that you’ll have to go out and get a new phone. And when you do get a new phone in the future, as long as it has Bluetooth built in, it will also work with your HearAll.

In order to use the HearAll with your cell phone, you first need to pair your phone with the HearAll (exactly like you have to pair any other Bluetooth device before you can use it). Pairing is easy. First, turn on the Bluetooth feature on your cell phone. Next, turn on the HearAll. Shortly the ON/STBY and BATT lights will begin alternately flashing green and orange indicating the HearAll is searching for any Bluetooth devices in range. On the screen of your cell phone you should see under Bluetooth devices a new device listed—the model number of the HearAll, namely “SA-40″. Click on the SA-40 on your cell phone and the two devices will now pair. When completed, your phone should say “Connected” beside the SA-40. At the same time, the alternating flashing lights on the HearAll will stop. You are now paired. You don’t have to pair the HearAll again unless you deliberately delete this Bluetooth connection on your cell phone.

Now, whenever your cell phone and HearAll are in range of each other (assuming you have the Bluetooth function activated on your cell phone) your HearAll will automatically pair to your cell phone. The proof of this is that the  ON/STBY light will flash green every 6 seconds.

The designed range of Bluetooth devices is 33 feet (10 meters) although many Bluetooth devices I’ve tried wouldn’t work more than 10 or 20 feet away from the paired device. I was pleased to see that the HearAll works well out to the 33 foot designed range.

The HearAll is a wireless Bluetooth device. Thus, you can leave your cell phone on your desk or counter, for example, and be up to 33 feet away from it and still get a strong signal assuming you have an unobstructed line of sight. This distance may be less in buildings with metal in the walls when you do not have an unobstructed line of sight to where your cell phone is.

When you receive an incoming call, both your cell phone and the HearAll ring. If you are away from your cell phone (and still within the 33-foot range of Bluetooth) you may not hear your cell phone ring. Therefore, especially if you are hard of hearing, be sure you leave your HearAll in speakerphone mode with the volume turned up so you will hear it ringing. (In handset mode, the ring volume may be too soft to hear if you have a significant hearing loss.)

To answer an incoming call on the HearAll, just press the talk button (the one with the phone handset icon on it) and the ON/STBY light will change from flashing green every 6 seconds to steady green while the call is in progress. To hang up, press the talk button again and the ON/STBY light will resuming flashing every 6 seconds.

The HearAll is also designed for use in your car as a hands-free phone. It comes with a magnetic visor clip that you slide over the front edge of your sun visor. The HearAll magnetically attaches to the clip. Now you can use it in hands-free (speakerphone) mode if you wear hearing aids or only have a mild to moderate hearing loss and don’t wear hearing aids. I found that for my severe hearing loss, if I’m not wearing my hearing aids, I can’t quite hear/understand the person talking that way. Not an unsurmountable problem. All I did was plug in a pair of earbuds and I could hear very well while driving.

One of the good things about using the HearAll instead of holding your cell phone up to your ear is that you greatly reduce your exposure to cell phone radiation. Yes, you are still exposed to radiation as the HearAll operates in the same frequency band as cell phones, but the power is greatly reduced since it only has to transmit up to 33 feet, not several miles like your cell phone may have to. As a result, if you are concerned about cell phone radiation, using the HearAll is one way to reduce your radiation exposure. (For more on cell phone radiation hazards, see my article “Are Microwave Hearing Devices Slowly ‘Cooking’ Our Kids?“)

The HearAll uses a rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack so you won’t have to keep replacing dead batteries. When the battery charge is getting low, the orange BATT indicator light will flash continuously to warn you. Recharging the HearAll is simple—just plug the recharging cable into  the micro USB port on the lower left side of the HearAll and plug the other end into a A/C wall receptacle. In just 3 or 4 hours it’s battery will be up to full charge, ready to go. While charging, the orange BATT indicator light will stay on. When the battery is fully charged, the BATT indicator light goes out.

Should you ever need to, you can use your HearAll while it is charging. Just plug the charger in and continue using it.. If the battery dies while you are out driving (perhaps you are on a long trip), you can charge it in your car if you have a little power inverter that plugs into the cigarette lighter (I always have one in my car) and you have your recharger in the car with you. However, with its high-capacity battery, its unlikely you’ll need to recharge the HearAll in the car as long as you recharge it every night or two.

Standby time for the HearAll is up to 14 days depending on the condition of the battery. (New batteries have more capacity than older batteries. Older batteries slowly lose their capacity as they age.) Talk time is up to 10 hours, again depending on the battery condition.

The HearAll works with Bluetooth cell phones, but it also works with other Bluetooth devices as well. For example, you can use it with your iPad or iPod. Experiment and see what other uses you can find for this wonderful, versatile HearAll.

If you’re now drooling at the thought of using a cell phone like everybody else, here’s how you can get one for yourself—and it won’t cost you an arm and a leg either! Although the regular price of the HearAll is $99.95, you can get it for only $83.63 from the HearAll page on the Center’s website. Once you have tried it, I’ll bet you’ll love your HearAll as much as I do mine!

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September 27, 2014: 6:53 am: Hearing (General)

by Neil Bauman, Ph.D.

Humans are not the only creatures that use “hearing aids” in order to hear better. You may be surprised to learn that some animals do too. In Costa Rica, the Spix’s disk-winged bats (Thyroptera tricolor), named for suction-cuplike discs on their wings and feet, use leaves to funnel sound in a natural version of old-time “ear trumpets” (1)

The bat “ear trumpets” are made out of naturally-furled leaves. These furled leaves let the bats better hear other bats in their group flying above them from a greater distance than would otherwise be possible. This helps keep the group members from getting separated.

“Unlike other cave-dwelling bat species, disc-winged bats roost each day in the unfurling leaves of plants outside of caves. These leaves form a tube shape as they go from folded-up to flat, meaning the bats can roost only for a day before having to find another leaf in the proper shape.” (1)

Spix’s disc-wing bats are also cliquish. “They form groups of five or six individuals and tend to stay together for many years. They have a complex communication system involving a single-sound inquiry call that they emit when in flight to locate other bats in their roosting group. Members of their group then make response calls consisting of as many as 20 to 25 sounds. The difficulty the bats have is hearing the inquiry calls from large distances.” (2)

A previous study of the bat’s chattering calls revealed that despite the need to recognize roost-mates, roosting bats weren’t great at discerning whether they were talking to a close buddy or a stranger. (1)

This is where the furled leaves come into play. The “ear trumpet” shape of the leaves amplifies the incoming calls up to 10 dB. (1) (We would perceive this as double the volume.) This makes a big difference in how well roosting bats could hear their flying friends.

However, “the boosted cries were distorted because not all frequencies of sound amplify equally. This explains why roosting bats can hear their friends, but not necessarily recognize them. As a result, bats in the roost cry out in response to any inquiry they hear. It’s the job of the flying bat to recognize the complex response call as familiar and join the roost.” (1)

So now you know why these bats deliberately nest in these rounded leaves. It increases their chances of hearing inquiry calls, so that they can send out a recognizable message to their fellow bats at the right time. (2)

The 10 dB increase in sound volume increases the distance at which the flying bats can be heard by their roost-mates by an estimated 65 to 98 feet. (2)

You can see some fascinating pictures of these bats roosting in the bottoms of their “ear trumpet” leaves.
________

(1) Pappas, Stephanie. 2013. Speak Up! Costa Rican Bats Use Leaves as Hearing Aids.

(2) Bats in Costa Rica Using Leaves for Hearing. 2013. Audiology Worldnews.

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September 17, 2014: 6:50 am: Tinnitus

by Neil Bauman, Ph.D.

There is a lot of ongoing tinnitus research. Some of the findings are not new, but reinforce what we already knew about tinnitus.

For example, a study about the efficacy of Tinnitus Retraining Therapy revealed that success rates strongly correlated to two things. First, the length of the treatment—meaning longer treatment times (close to 3 years) gave better results than shorter treatment times. Second, the closer a person adhered to the TRT protocols, the better the results. This is nothing new. It just reinforces the fact that if you want to have success in tinnitus reduction when using TRT, you have to follow the “rules” day by day and persevere to the end. Too many people are impatient and try to short-circuit the process, and that just oesn’t work. (1)

Another study revealed that when treating tinnitus, you get more effective results when you address the person’s emotional and cognitive reaction to tinnitus. This means that expecting a treatment such as tinnitus masking, or drugs, or low-level laser treatment by themselves will not be near as effective (successful) as giving the same treatment, but treating the person’s emotional response at the same time. I have said for years that tinnitus is a “psychosomatic” condition and you have to address both the physical and the emotional components of tinnitus in order to be successful. This study just reinforces this view. (2)

Another study found that 43% of all elderly people have tinnitus. Of this group, 59% have tinnitus in both ears. Now you know (whether you wanted to or not). (3)

This same study found that there was a “weak” connection between hearing loss and tinnitus. (In the past studies have shown that 70+ percent of the people with hearing loss have tinnitus so I think the connection is not quite that weak.) But here’s something new. They found that there was a strong connection between tinnitus and diabetes mellitus and hypertension. Therefore, if you have diabetes or hypertension, you have a good chance of getting tinnitus as a result. Thus, it behooves one to get their diabetes and hypertension under control. This will reduce your chances of ending up with constant tinnitus. (3)

If you want to learn more about tinnitus, the many things that can trigger tinnitus, or more about a number of things you can do to help bring your tinnitus under control, check out my book, When Your Ears Ring—Cope with Your Tinnitus—Here’s How.

________

(1) Thong, J. F., et. al. Dec. 2013. Habituation Following Tinnitus Retraining Therapy in Tinnitus Sufferers. Annals, Academy of Medicine, Singapore. Summarized in Tinnitus Today, Spring, 2014, p. 19.

(2) Rabau, S., et. al. Jan. 2014. Changes Over Time of Psychoacoustic Outcome Measurements Are Not a Substitute for Subjective Outcome Measurements in Acute Tinnitus. European Archives of Oto-Rhino-Laryngology. Summarized in Tinnitus Today, Spring, 2014, p. 19.

(3) Gibrin, P. C., et. al. Dec. 2013. Prevalence of Tinnitus Complaints and Probable Association with Hearing Loss, Diabetes Mellitus and Hypertension in Elderly. CoDAS. Summarized in Tinnitus Today, Spring, 2014, p. 19.

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September 7, 2014: 6:48 am: Ototoxic Drugs

by Neil Bauman, Ph.D.

As many of you know, I am not a fan of taking prescription drugs, especially when there are safer alternatives, and almost always, there are safer alternatives. These safer alternatives will not only save your ears from the ototoxic side effects of the drugs, but they can also save your life.

“A recently published study in the United Kingdom has found a more than threefold increase in risk of death in those using tranquilizers or sleeping pills compared with people not using these drugs. The results were similar to those of a study published two years ago examining sleeping pill use in people in the United States, which found a more than threefold greater risk of dying in people using these drugs compared with a control group not using them.” (1)

In this study of approximately 35,000 people who used tranquilizers, 47% used benzodiazepines and 14% used the “Z” drugs.

Benzodiazepines include drugs such alprazolam (Xanax), chlordiazepoxide (Librium), clonazepam (Klonopin), clorazepate (Tranxene), diazepam (Valium), estazolam (ProSom), flurazepam (Dalmane), lorazepam (Ativan), midazolam (Versed), oxazepam (Serax), temazepam (Restoril) and triazolam (Halcion) among others.

Z-drugs include zopiclone (Imovane), and its close derivative eszopiclone (Lunesta), zoleplon (Sonata) and zolpidem (Ambien).

Researchers found that in the first year after the study began, “the overall risk of death for those using these drugs was 3.3 times greater than the risk for non-users. Increased doses of drugs further increased the risk of death.” (1)

The benzodiazepines increased the risk of death 3.7 times while the “Z” drugs 3.2 times. (1) Did you get that? According to this study, taking benzodiazepines increases your risk of death 370%, not to mention all the ototoxic (and other) side effects you will have to deal with.

This is a pretty serious side effect, considering that an effective alternative in dealing with your anxiety is by talking to someone about it.

I’m not the only one that says this. “British doctors who have written about nondrug alternatives for the treatment of mild to moderate anxiety (and similar problems) say that:

‘The best treatment is likely to be brief counseling provided by a general practitioner or another professional. Such counseling need not be intensive or specially skilled. It should always include careful assessment of the causes of the patient’s distress. Once these have been identified, anxiety may often be reduced to tolerable levels by means of explanation, exploration of feelings, reassurance, and encouragement.’

What else can be done? Talking to non-medical people—a friend, a spouse, a relative, a member of the clergy—may help to identify causes of anxiety and potential solutions. Gathering the courage to talk about difficult concerns would generally be a better solution than taking pills.” (1)

So there you have it. Start looking for effective, natural alternatives to drug use. Then you’ll never have to worry about the ototoxic side effects of drugs, and in the process, you may even save your life, and that is definitely worth it!

If you want to look up the ototoxic side effects of the benzodiazepines or the Z-drugs if you are considering taking them, see my book Ototoxic Drugs Exposed 3rd edition. This book contains information on the ototoxicity of 877 drugs, 35 herbs and 148 chemicals.
_____________

(1) New Study Shows Increased Risk of Death with Sleeping Pills and Tranquilizers. Worst Pills, Best Pills News. July, 2014, Vol. 20. No. 7.

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September 3, 2014: 2:18 pm: Ear Problems

by Neil Bauman, Ph.D.

Some “kids”–I kid you not–are born with small, deformed or absent external ears. The fancy medical name for this is “microtia”. Microtia is composed of two Latin words—micro—small or tiny, and otia—from oto—ear. So literally, microtia is “tiny ears”. If there isn’t even the nub of an external ear present, the medical term is “anotia” meaning “no ear”.

Child with microtia. Most of the external ear is missing.

Fig. 1. Child with microtia. Most of the external ear is missing and what is there is totally deformed. (2)

“Microtia is a congenital deformity affecting the outer ear (pinna) where the ear does not fully develop during the first trimester of pregnancy.” (1) In humans, microtia occurs in 1 out of every 6,000 to 12,000 births. It can affect only one ear, or both ears (1) (Fig. 1).

Goat with normal large ears.

Fig. 2. Goat with normal large ears.

Genetic mutations can cause microtia. So can taking certain prescription drugs. For example, taking Isotretinoin (Accutane) during the first trimester of pregnancy is known to ca.use microtia. In my book, Ototoxic Drugs Exposed, I warn, “There is an extremely high risk that you will have a deformed child if you take Isotretinoin while you are pregnant. Your baby might be born with no external ears, tiny external ears [microtia], tiny ear canals or no ear canals at all [aural atresia].” Microtia can also occur in various animals—both wild and domesticated. Doctors consider microtia a medical condition and try to repair this deformity so that children can hear properly and lead normal lives.

Lamancha goat with "elf" ears.

Fig. 3. Lamancha goat with "elf" ears.

That is why, while I was touring the goat section in the small animal barn at the Maryland State fair recently, I was surprised to see some goats on display that didn’t have normal ears. Since the animals on display were vying for trophies, I was flabbergasted to discover these “defective” goats on display. I asked the goats’ owner about their strange ears. She explained that goat breeders have actually developed a breed of goats that have microtia as one of their salient features. These Lamancha goats are a formally recognized breed of dairy goats. In order to be registered, they must have microtia present in both ears.

Lamancha goat with "elf" ears (back) and goat with normal ears (front).

Fig. 4. Lamancha goat with "elf" ears (back) and goat with normal ears (front).

There are two forms of microtia recognized for registered Lamacha goats—”elf” ears and “gopher” ears. Compared to normal goat ears (Fig. 2), “elf” ears are much shorter—perhaps an inch or two long (Fig. 3).

Lamancha goat with "gopher" ears.

Fig. 5. Lamancha goat with "gopher" ears.

Fig. 4 shows just how different these “elf” ears are compared to goats with normal external ears. Notice how abnormally small these “elf” ears are. Fig. 5 shows a goat that has “gopher” ears—essentially no external ears at all. All that exists of the external pinna is a bit of cartilage covered with hair (Fig. 6). According to the owner of these Lamancha goats, these goats have normal hearing. However, I wonder. It only stands to reason that goats with normal upright pinnae will hear softer and more distant sounds better than Lamancha goats with external “elf” or “gopher” ears.

Close-up of a Lamancha goat with "gopher" ears.

Fig. 6. Close-up of a "gopher" ear.

Apart from Lamancha goats that are bred for their lack of normal ears, microtia in both wild and domestic animals is not common, although there are numbers of cats that have microtia in (usually) just one ear. ______________ (1) Microtia and Atresia.  Ear Community. http://earcommunity.com/microtiaatresia/ (2) Microtia http://pulse.seattlechildrens.org/researcher-explores-clues-to-birth-defects-on-international-scale/Microtia

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August 26, 2014: 6:45 am: Hearing Loss

by Neil Bauman, Ph.D.

Who would have thought that hearing loss would be tied to sleep apnea? Yet that is exactly what researchers recently discovered.

Sleep apnea (AP-nee-ah) is a disorder in which you have one or more pauses in breathing or shallow breaths while you sleep. Breathing pauses can last from a few seconds to minutes. They may occur 30 times or more an hour.

In a study of 13,967 people with sleep apnea, 9.9% of this population had at least moderate sleep apnea.

Researchers defined moderate sleep apnea as 15 or more sleep apnea events per hour. Sleep apnea events included apneas (complete cessation of airflow) and hypopneas (partial cessation of airflow).

In this same population, 19.0% had high-frequency hearing loss. (Note: the researchers defined high frequency hearing loss as hearing loss greater than 25 dB at 2, 3, 4, 6 and 8 kHz. They defined low-frequency loss as hearing loss greater than 25 dB at 0.5 and 1 kHz). 8.4% of the study population had both high and low frequency hearing loss. Only 1.5% had just low-frequency hearing loss.

After adjusting for a number of factors, sleep apnea was associated with a 31% increase in people with high-frequency hearing loss, a 38% increase in people with both high and low frequency hearing loss and a 90% increase in people with low-frequency hearing loss.

Interestingly enough, as the number of apnea events increased (above the baseline 15 events per hour) so did the percentage of people with high-frequency hearing loss. However, there was no such correlation in those with low-frequency hearing loss.

Researchers also found that hearing loss was more prevalent among people with a higher body mass index (are overweight), and those that self-reported they snored or had sleep apnea.

What causes this increase in hearing loss in people with sleep apnea? According to lead author, Dr. Amit Chopra, “Potential pathways linking sleep apnea and hearing impairment may include adverse effects of sleep apnea on vascular supply to the cochlea [reduced blood (and thus oxygen) reach the inner ear] via inflammation and vascular remodeling or noise trauma from snoring.” (Perhaps they also need to do a study on hearing losses in wives caused by their husband’s snoring.)

Therefore, if you have sleep apnea, it would seem wise to seek treatment for it before it causes you (more) hearing loss.
________

Source: Sleep apnea tied to hearing loss in large study.

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August 16, 2014: 6:43 am: Loop Systems

by Neil Bauman, Ph.D.

Donna contacted me about how to help her mother-in-law, Lois, better hear her TV. I explained about the wonders of loop systems. Then her husband Sam phoned me to ask how to best loop her bedroom.

As we talked, I explained there were three ways he could hook the loop up for his mom. The first way was to loop the whole room, but since there was no easy way to hide the loop wires, he rejected that. The second way was to use a loop pad. The down side of the loop pad is you need to be directly over the loop pad in order to get the best signal. This meant Lois would need to stay in one place in the bed whenever she watched her TV. I suggested a third alternative—to loop the bed itself and have a small area carpet at the foot of the bed to hide the wires going from the bed to the TV.

Sam liked this idea the best. I explained how he could plug one end of the loop wire into the back of the loop amplifier, run it around the wooden legs of the bed three times to make a 3-turn loop, and then run it back to the loop amplifier, trim it to length and plug it in—as simple as that.

By looping the bed, Lois could be anywhere on the bed and still hear her TV wonderfully well.

The upshot of this was they ordered the Univox DLS-50 loop amplifier and a 100′ roll of wire. A week or two later, I received an email from Donna. It speaks for itself. Here it is.

Donna wrote,

At Jerry’s suggestion, my husband Sam and I contacted Neil Bauman (neil@hearinglosshelp.com ) and purchased a room loop system for my mother-in-law’s TV. This past weekend, we looped the wires around her bed as Neil suggested, attached the wires to the TV—and a miracle occurred.

We turned all the volume off on the TV. Sam and I did not have to ask Lois if she could hear the television—there was such a look of wonder and joy on her face! I’m sorry we did not video it! Lois is delighted with the quality of the sound.

For the first time in years, she can hear the television. She told us that she has never watched any of the shows that have caught the public imagination, like Mad Men or Downton Abbey, since she couldn’t hear the dialogue and the captions did not capture the nuances of the programs. Now she can be part of the mainstream once again. Lois spent hours that night feasting on television, but is tearing herself away in order to check out looped venues at museums, etc.

So thank you Neil! The device was easy to set up and was very reasonable, in fact, priceless.

_____________

If you’d like to do the same thing and hear beautiful, clear sound from your TV, all you need to do is order the DLS-50 loop amplifier and a roll of wire (black or white—your choice).
.
The Univox DLS-50 is only $189.00 and the roll of wire is $11.99. Priority shipping is $11.40 so the grand total is $212.39 (excluding state tax if you are in PA). Not a bad price for a “priceless” device.

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August 6, 2014: 6:36 am: Assistive Devices

by Neil Bauman, Ph.D.

A concerned mother explained,

My daughter has mild to moderate bilateral hearing loss and wears hearing aids. In her Montessori classroom, they also use an FM system when appropriate. I have visited schools where they now use wireless soundfield systems. They seem great, especially for a traditional classroom setting. My question is, “Who is evaluating all of these devices, hearing aids (especially ones that communicate aid-to-aid), FM systems, soundfield systems, etc. for levels of radiation when used together?”

If you put a child with hearing aids, with an FM, and a sound field in a wireless environment, are they getting slowly “cooked”? I am not sure safety is taken into account when all of these technologies are applied layer upon layer—especially with children who have thinner skulls and developing brains.

I just don’t feel confident with the information I have been given. Your thoughts are appreciated.

You have posed an excellent question. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending how you see it), we live in an increasingly wireless world. Like practically every technology ever developed, there are good points and bad points to the all-pervading wireless revolution we are experiencing. The trick is to use the good while eliminating as much of the bad as possible. As so often happens, the “bad” is swept under the carpet and everyone pretends it isn’t causing any problems. That is happening with microwave wireless devices.

We Are Surrounded by Microwaves

Many/most of the wireless devices we use today operate in the microwave frequencies—typically between 1 GHz and 10 GHz or so. This means we are bathed in a microwave smog (some call it electro-smog) pretty-well every minute of every day (and all night too), and it is getting worse as more and more items we use are going wireless.

Besides the microwave ovens in our kitchens, think of all the other devices at home, work and school that emit microwaves. There are Wi-Fi routers and wireless modems, cell phones, smart phones, laptop computers, tablets, wireless baby monitors, DECT (Digitally Enhanced Cordless Technology) cordless phones, wireless video game consoles, wireless burglar alarms, wireless printers, Bluetooth devices of all kinds, and numbers of other wireless electronic devices.

That is not all. Outside our homes, schools and places of work there are other major sources of the electro-smog that surrounds us. These include nearby cell phone towers and all our neighbors’ electronic wireless devices and routers.

For hard of hearing people the list is even longer. We use RF (radio frequency) systems integrated with our hearing aids so we can hear distant speakers and our TVs. These operate in the 2.4 GHz band (microwave frequencies). Even hearing aids can now “talk” to each other and this is also done at 2.4 GHz. All the Bluetooth assistive devices operate in this same band. And in your school, so do the wireless sound-field systems.

Furthermore, there are more and more smart phone apps available to help us hear better, but to use them we need to use our cell phones (and remember, they also emit microwaves). As a result, we are bathed in even more microwaves than people with normal hearing.

Microwaves Negatively Affect Our Health

As scientists discovered back in the 1940s and 1950s with the development of radar and other technologies, microwaves were dangerous to human health. They are still just as dangerous today. Make no mistake about it. Surrounding ourselves in a microwave smog is not good for us.

Because of the power involved, microwave radiation from cell phone towers, cell phones and Wi-Fi routers are the primary culprits, not our hearing aids and assistive listening devices that also use microwave frequencies.

Note: exposure to radiation from cell towers is rapidly increasing with the deployment of 4G technology, but the average exposure from cell towers is still well below that of our cell phones themselves (1) because they are so much closer to our bodies (heads).

However, for hard of hearing people, adding wireless assistive devices to the mix just compounds the problem. Furthermore, hearing aids are right against the skull—so when they “talk” to each other via 2.4 GHz, even though the power output is very low, they just add to the electro-smog assaulting our bodies.

The dangers to our bodies from microwave radiation is of two kinds—thermal (heat) and non-thermal.

“Cell phones radiate microwaves, as do microwave ovens. The exposure limits set by the Federal Communications Commission in the United States and by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation, Protecting for most countries in the European Union assume the only danger from microwave radiation would come from temperature increases in our brains, or from temperature increases to any other part of our bodies.” (2) In short, all the industry thinks of is thermal damage from microwaves heating up our cells and “cooking” us, They are not considering short and long term non-thermal microwave effects.

To be sure, thermal effects from microwaves can be a problem if we are close to a high-powered microwave antenna. But with most microwave devices (apart from our microwave ovens which are designed to cook things), internal cell heating from microwave radiation is the least of our worries.

Therefore, you shouldn’t have to worry about your child being “cooked” in school from all the microwave devices in use in the classroom. However, you do have to concern yourself with other health issues associated with microwaves from their non-thermal effects.

One such health risk is brain tumors/brain cancer. Brain tumors happen to real people from using microwave devices such as cell phones. Here is Enrico Grani’s story. He explains:

“I used cell phones for 10+ years extensively on and off, and because of this, I developed a brain tumor.

It 2007, about one week before my birthday, I was diagnosed with a 3 cm x 4 cm brain tumor. I had a stroke in late November 2006. An MRI examination revealed a brain tumor in the area of my brain next to my ear where I always held my cell phone—in the exact position where the cell phone’s antenna was located.

Cell phones are much more dangerous than anyone can possibly imagine. I would gladly trade in all my money (which isn’t much now) and every single material possession I have for the chance to have my brain function restored. I was foolish. Please don’t make the same mistake. Your brain is much more precious than the device called a cell phone.” (3)

“The first major indication that cell phones might be a health hazard came out of a massive research project funded by the Cellular Telephone Industry Association (CTIA). To the industry’s surprise and dismay, the results of the study came to the opposite conclusion from the one they were hoping for.

The study’s results included findings of:

— A nearly 300% increase in the incidence of genetic damage when human blood cells were exposed to radiation in the cellular frequency band.

— A significant increase in cell phone users’ risk of brain tumors at the brain’s outer edge, on whichever side the cell phone was held most often.

— A 60% greater chance of acoustic neuromas, a tumor affecting the nerve that controls hearing, among people who had used cell phones for six years or more.

— A higher rate of brain cancer deaths among handheld mobile phone users than among car phone users (car phones are mounted on the dashboard rather than held next your head and the antenna was typically outside the car).” (4)

This study by Dr. George Carlo reported “a statistically significant doubling of brain cancer risk; a statistically significant dose-response risk of acoustic neuroma with more than six years of cell phone use, and; findings of genetic damage in human blood when exposed to microwave (cell phone) radiation.” (2)

Another industry-funded research study showed that brain tumors are not just due to chance, but that there is a significant “20% increased risk of brain tumors for every year of cell phone use”. (2)

Later studies show that 3G phones may cause more harm than earlier versions, raising the risk of brain cancer four-fold. (13)

Brain cancer from 3G phones and the latest technology also appears to have a much shorter latency period—just five to 10 years—compared to about 25 years for earlier mobile phone versions. (13)

Independent researcher, Dr. Hardell and his team in Sweden found significantly increased risk of brain tumors from 10 or more years of cell phone (or cordless phone) use. Some of their findings included:

— “For every 100 hours of cell phone use, the risk of brain cancer increases by 5%.

— For every year of cell phone use, the risk of brain cancer increases by 8%.

— After 10 or more years of digital cell phone use, there is a 280% increased risk of brain cancer.

— For digital cell phone users who were teenagers or younger when they first started using a cell phone, there is a 420% increased risk of brain cancer.” (2)

In spite of what the cell phone industry’s public relations departments may say, “the link between cell phone use and brain tumors is well substantiated and backed by more than 100 scientific studies.” (5)

For starters, health conditions that are linked to cell phone use include 9 types of cancer/tumors (known as of 2013). These include gliomas (brain cancer), meningiomas (tumors of the meninges that encases the brain), salivary gland cancer, eye cancer, testicular cancer in males, breast cancer in females, thyroid cancer, leukemia and acoustic neuromas (tumors on the acoustic nerves resulting in hearing loss) (6), In fact, in 2004, the second Interphone study to be published raised considerable alarm when it reported a nearly 300% increased risk of acoustic neuroma. This is because when a cell phone is held to the ear, it is the acoustic nerve that receives the highest microwave exposure.) (2)

That is not all, the French national Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Safety. (ANSES), after evaluating more than 300 international studies, published a report highlighting the biological effects of EMR [electro-magnetic radiation] on humans and animals concerning sleep, male fertility and cognitive performance. (1)

Chronic exposure to even low-level radiation (like that from cell phones) in addition to causing a wide variety of cancers, can also impair immunity and contribute to Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, heart disease and many other ailments. (7)

For example, studies have found that cell phone radiation can affect mens’ fertility (decreased sperm count, reduced sperm motility and damaged sperm mitochondrial DNA). (6) This is because men, and particularly teenage boys, place their cell phones in their pants pockets when they are not holding them to their heads. In addition, one study reported an 80% increased risk of testicular cancer. When the cell phone was kept in the left pocket, then the left testicle developed cancer. When kept in the right pocket, than the right testicle developed cancer. (2)

How is it that microwave radiation can cause all these health problems? Dr. Mercola explains,

“Your body is a complex communication device for cells ‘talk’, tissues ‘talk’, organs ‘talk’ and organisms ‘talk’. At each of these levels, the communication includes finely tuned bio-electrical transmitters and receivers, which are tuned like tuning into a radio station. What happens when you expose a radio antenna to a significant amount of external noise? You get static from the noise—and that is what is happening to your body in today’s electro-smog environment.

Two of the more well-known biological impacts from electro-smog are the interruption of the brain wave pattern leading to behavior issues, and the interference to your body’s entire communication system, leading to abnormal neurological function such as dementia, chronic fatigue syndrome, and fibromyalgia.

At the cellular level, your cell membrane receptors (the brain of the cell) recognize electromagnetic fields at very low levels of exposure producing a stress response similar to that produced by exposure to heavy metals or toxic chemicals.

This can cause the cell membrane to go from an ‘active’ or permeable state where it allows nutrients in the toxins out, to an ‘inactive’ state where the cell membrane is impermeable. During a normal day, your cells will change states thousands of times, but when under constant environmental stress, the membranes can be locked in the inactive state. This is often referred to as ‘oxidative stress’ as nutrients are able to enter into the cell, while toxins (free radicals) are not allowed to leave.

There is also real evidence that this inactive state can even have geno-toxic effects, meaning electro-smog is toxic by both damaging DNA and preventing your body from repairing DNA, which can be the first step to cancer.” (7)

Unfortunately, it is our children that are slated to bear the brunt of these cancers. As Dr. Mercola also reports, “Young children are much more vulnerable to these risks than adults because of their thinner skulls, smaller heads, and still-developing brains and nervous systems. Their thinner skull bones allow for greater penetration of radiation. The radiation can enter all the way into the mid-brain where tumors are more deadly.” (4)

Furthermore, children’s brains can absorb up to three times as much radiation as compared to adults (1) since children’s brain tissue is more conductive and their smaller brains and softer brain tissue allows radiation to penetrate more effectively.

Dr. Mercola concludes, “Children’s cells reproduce more quickly, so they’re more susceptible to aggressive cell growth. Their immune systems are often also not as well developed as adults. Lastly, children face a far greater lifetime exposure. Not only should children not use cell phones, but adults should not use them (or Wi-Fi) around children.” (4)

You can see revealing graphics showing how deeply cell phone radiation penetrates a five-year-old child’s head (brain) as compared to the head (brain) of an adult.

By comparing the first and last graph, it is obvious that cell phone radiation would penetrate in excess of 60% of a five-year-old child’s brain. In contrast, it would penetrate less than 20% of an adult brain. (8) As microwave radiation penetrates deeper into the cranial cavity, it can result in more tumors in these areas of the brain.

Not only do children’s brains absorb microwaves more readily than adult brains do, children also have potentially a much longer period of exposure to microwave radiation because they are playing with and/or using wireless devices and cell phones from a very early age. (1)

“The younger the child is when he or she starts using a cell phone, the higher the risk. Since texting became popular, it is common that children sleep with their cell phones underneath their pillows. They set their cell phones to vibrate mode so their parents won’t hear the phone ring. Sleeping with a cell phone beneath a pillow results in a night-long exposure, every night.” (2)

Thus, we can expect microwave-related health problems in children much sooner than we would expect the same kinds of problems in older adults who were not exposed to microwaves for most of their lives.

Summing it up, it appears that the risk of getting a brain tumor from exposure to microwave radiation from cell phone use has the following characteristics:

— “The higher the cumulative hours of wireless phone use, the higher the risk.

— The higher the number of years since first wireless phone use, the higher the risk.

— The higher the radiated power from the cell phone, the higher the risk.

— The higher the exposure (use on the same side of head as the brain tumor), the higher the risk, and

— The younger the user, the higher the risk.” (2)
______________

As you can see, the real risk of all the microwave devices we (and our kids) are using is not their thermal effects, but their non-thermal effects. This is what we have to guard against.

The unabridged version of this article has whole sections of information on how this microwave problem is being covered up and downplayed, what other countries are doing to ameliorate this problem, and, most importantly, a comprehensive list of things you need to know and implement in your life and in the lives of your loved ones and kids in order to help reduce your/their radiation exposure from microwave devices, especially cell phones and Wi-Fi devices.

Just as not everyone who smokes gets lung cancer, so not every one who uses cell phones, Wi-Fi or other microwave devices will develop brain cancer or suffer other neurological damage. Some will and some won’t. There are many variables that contribute to your susceptibility. Since you don’t know which group you will fall into, it seems wise and prudent to act now and limit, as much as is reasonably possible, given your belief system and lifestyle, your exposure to microwaves, rather than wait until bad things begin to happen in your family. I’m already doing what I can. Are you?

_________

(1) References are listed in the unabridged article.

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July 28, 2014: 6:33 am: Cell Phones

by Neil Bauman, Ph.D.

Has this ever happened to you?

You “buried” your cell phone somewhere nearby and because of your poor hearing, you did not hear it ringing or see it blinking. And you didn’t feel it vibrating either. Result? Missed phone calls and/or missed text messages.

You depended on your cell phone’s alarm to wake you up for an early flight the next day, but you slept on your “good” ear and as a result you didn’t hear your phone’s alarm vainly trying to wake you up, so you missed your flight.

You wanted to be alerted whenever a phone call or text message came in, but you missed your cell phone’s “rings” because of your poor hearing and all the racket around you. As a result, you missed an important call (and now your boss is mad at you).

You were sleeping and your phone received a severe weather warning that a tornado was bearing down on you—but you were in such a deep sleep that your phone’s alarm failed to arouse you. (If that was the case, you’re unfortunately not reading this article now either.)

You’re concerned about the microwave radiation from your cell phone (see article in this issue). As a result, you want to keep your phone at a “safe” distance from your body. However, you realize you probably won’t hear, see or feel it ringing from that distance. What can you do?

If you relate to any of these (or similar) scenarios, you don’t have to worry anymore. Serene Innovations has done it again. They’ve come out with a cool new product that makes sure you won’t miss any more phone calls (or messages or alarms) while you sleep or are engrossed in something at your desk.

The Serene Innovations RF-200 Cell Phone Ringer/Flasher is one cool device. This new gizmo is a desktop or bed-table signaling device for landline and cell phones (at the same time if you want). It will notify you when you have incoming calls by phone, Skype, FaceTime and text messages.

You may find it so useful that you’ll want one for your bed-table at night (with bed shaker) and one for your desk (or wherever you spend most of your time) during the day.

The RF-200 is just so easy to use. All you do is set your cell phone in vibrate mode and place it in the cradle. The RF-200 does the rest. When the ring alerter “hears” (actually “feels”) a signal, it flashes lights, sounds a loud alerting signal, and if you have the bed shaker plugged in, shakes your bed or chair. This makes it easy to know someone is calling you and is really hard to ignore.

Even if you do miss a call—perhaps you were out of the room—the missed call lights stay on to alert you to that fact when you return. Just press the “reset” button on the top right corner to turn the lights off and its ready for the next call.

I love the fact that the RF-200 works with both landline and cell phones at the same time. You don’t need two different alerting gizmos to do this one job. (To use it with landline phones, simply plug the included 7′ long phone cord into the back of the RF-200 and into any phone wall jack.)

When one of your phones rings, it is easy to tell whether you should answer your landline phone or your cell phone because of the distinctive light and sound patterns.

When your cell phone rings, the two “side” lights and the two top corner lights flash consecutively in a clockwise rotating pattern. When a landline phone call comes in, the top “corner” lights on the RF-200 flash together.

The ringer pattern for cell phone calls is a lower-pitched tone that warbles 3 times, then pauses, then warbles 3 times, etc. The ringer pattern for a landline call is a higher-pitched tone that warbles 5 times, pauses, warbles 5 times, etc.

Another feature of the RF-200 is that it isn’t just for alerting you to phone calls. It can also alert you to text messages if you have a smart phone. How cool is that?

To use the text messaging alert, plug in the short coiled cord between the base unit and the earphone jack on your smart phone. Better yet, if you have an Android or iPhone, you can program them with a special text vibration pattern so you don’t even need the short coiled cord! You just place your phone on the cradle. It’s just that easy.

If you live in an area that has severe weather such as tornados, and you have Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) sent directly to your cell phone, the RF-200 will immediately alert you to any warnings in your area. When your cell phone receives an emergency alert, the RF-200 will immediately emit a unique ring and flash pattern. The ring sound is a high-low, high-low emergency vehicle sound that you’ll instantly recognize as an emergency “sound”. At the same time, the lights will flash in a repeated criss-cross pattern. There is no mistaking that this is an emergency alert and not a regular phone call alert!

One cool undocumented feature is that you can use the RF-200 with any cell phone app you have that vibrates your phone such as count down timers, wake-up alarms, etc. This doubles the functionality of the RF-200 at no extra cost. The ring and flasher pattern for such alerts/alarms are identical to those for cell phone calls/messages. After each alert/alarm, you need to hit the RESET button to turn off the lights.

Note: If you miss a cell phone call or text message (do not answer) all 4 flasher lights will stay on until you press the RESET button. This feature does not work with landline phone calls.

The lights and loud alarm will get your attention if you are up, but what happens if you are in a deep sleep? Not to worry. Get the optional bed shaker. With the optional bed shaker plugged in, you’ll not sleep through any more phone calls, messages, alarms, or alerts. Just put the bed shaker under your mattress or under your pillow and you WILL wake up when it begins vibrating.

If you are a “couch potato” you can slip the bed shaker module under a cushion on your sofa or lazy-boy chair—and again, you won’t miss another phone call or alert!

The bed shaker vibrates in two different patterns—for incoming cell phone calls/messages it is a pattern of a long vibration followed by a very short vibration. For incoming landline calls it is a series of long vibrations.

Another neat feature of the RF-200 is that it has a USB recharging port so you can recharge your phone while you work or sleep. Simply plug the recharging cord that came with your phone into the USB port. That way your cell phone will always be fully charged whenever you grab it. No more awaking to a dead cell phone (and missed calls).

The ring alerter is quite loud. It sure gets my attention, even with my severe hearing loss (when it is set on “Hi”). For people with normal or near-normal hearing, there is a “Lo” setting. And if you don’t want to wake up the baby (or disturb your boss), you can set it to “Off”. You will still be alerted by the bright blue flashing lights and (optional) bed shaker.

One more thing. The RF-200 is A/C powered, but gives you uninterrupted operation even if the power fails with its built-in battery backup. Just install 4 AA alkaline batteries (not included) and you’re all set.

If you’re already drooling over this cool gizmo, purchase the RF-200 Cell/Phone Ringer/Flasher for yourself. For daytime use (no bed shaker) it is only $68.50. For night-time use (includes bed shaker) it is $93.45.

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July 17, 2014: 6:30 am: Assistive Devices

by Neil Bauman, Ph.D.

A lady explained,

I don’t know exactly what I need. I have behind-the-ear hearing aids and I’m extremely hard of hearing. My TV is not clear so I might need a loop system. Also, I can’t hear much in the car so I might need the PockeTalker, but your website says that you can use it for the TV too. Do I need both, or would the PockeTalker do the job for both? I’m on a budget so need your help. All of these things sound awfully technical for this old lady. Do you think I can figure them out?

I understand. Not everyone is technically inclined, but the solution need not be very technical. I’ll make it simple for you.

Before we get into the details of the specific assistive devices that will fit your budget, I’d like to address your problem of lack of clarity when listening to your TV (and the same applies to many other situations too).

Properly-installed and correctly-used assistive devices such as loop systems and personal amplifiers (PockeTalkers) give you clearer speech than your expensive hearing aids will. This is just the laws of physics in action. Briefly, let me explain.

The high-frequency components of speech carry most of the intelligibility of speech, yet these same high-frequency sounds do not travel very well in air (as sound waves). Thus, the farther you are from the sound source (your TV in this case), the weaker the high-frequency component becomes and the less you understand of speech (clarity goes down).

Your expensive hearing aids have a problem because if these weak high-frequency sounds don’t reach your hearing aid’s microphones (and they don’t with increasing distance), your hearing aids can’t amplify these sounds. Thus speech sounds lack clarity and sound muffled.

This is where properly-used assistive devices come in. They take the sounds directly from the source and get them to your ears without their having to travel much through the air as sound waves. By doing this, they preserve the high-frequency sounds. The result is that you hear beautiful, clear speech.

Having said that, how much difference this will actually make to how well you understand speech also depends on how badly damaged your inner ears are, and also how well the hearing circuits in your brain are working. Neither hearing aids nor assistive devices can fix this. That is something you just have to live with.

What these devices WILL do is deliver to your ears the clearest speech signal possible. That way, you have the best chance of understanding speech as well (clearly) as is possible given your damaged hearing system.

Because I do not have 100% discrimination by any means, I do not understand everything I hear on my TV, even with the wonderful loop system I have installed. Therefore, I always have the closed captions turned on so I can read the words I still mis-hear. You should do the same.

Now that you have a realistic understanding of what you can expect from assistive devices, let’s look at the specific devices you mentioned.

Since you are on a tight budget, you want to get the most bang for your buck. What you need is an inexpensive device that is portable, flexible, easy to set up and easy to use under a variety of conditions.

When you look at it this way, a personal amplifier such as the PockeTalker beats out a room loop system as it is much more portable and easy to set up.

You also say, “All of these things sound awfully technical for this old lady. Do you think I can figure them out?”

The good news is that the PockeTalker is so easy to set up and use that even though you are not technically inclined—yes—you can do it! There are only two controls—an on-off/volume control wheel and a tone control. (I did say it was easy to use, didn’t I?)

Using the PockeTalker with the TV might not be as “nice” as using a room loop in that you’ll have a cord stretching from the TV to your PockeTalker, and if there is much background sound, the PockeTalker will pick up some of that racket—unlike a loop system which would pick up the sound from the TV and nothing else.

One of the things I like about the PockeTalker is that you can use it with, or without, your hearing aids. Thus, if your hearing aids break, or their batteries die on you, and you don’t have spares with you, you can still hear via the PockeTalker.

It’s easy to set up and use the PockeTalker with your TV. You can do it in 7 simple steps. Here they are.

The PockeTalker comes with a 12 foot extension cord and two plastic microphone clips.

1. Take one of the white plastic microphone clips, peel the paper off the back, align it so the “hole” is vertical, and stick it to the center of the grill of one of your TVs loudspeakers. (This will hold the microphone right against the TV’s loudspeaker.)

2. Unplug the microphone that comes with the PockeTalker (pull the “black thingy” on the top of the PockeTalker out of it’s jack) and plug it into the female end of the 12-foot extension cord.

3. Set the microphone/plug into the “hole” in the microphone clip on your TV and let the extension cord hang down to hold it in place.

4. Plug the male end of the extension cord into the microphone jack on the top of the PockeTalker (the jack from which you pulled the microphone).

Now you have two options. If your hearing aids have t-coils in them, switch them to t-coil mode.

5a. Plug a neckloop into the PockeTalker’s earphone jack. Put the neckloop around your neck.

Or, if you are not wearing your hearing aids,

5b Plug earbuds or earphones into the PockeTalker’s earphone jack and put the earbuds/earphones in your ears.

6. Turn your TV on and set the volume to a low level so you don’t blast the ears of any hearing people around.

7. Turn on the PockeTalker and set the volume so you can comfortably hear your TV.

That’s easy enough for you to do, isn’t it?

To use the PockeTalker in the car you can do exactly the same as above if you want to hook the PockeTalker to your car’s radio speakers. If you want to use the PockeTalker in the car to talk to a passenger, just skip steps 1 & 3 and pass the microphone on the extension cord to whomever is talking.

However, if there are only two of you in the car, then its tiring for your buddy to have to hold the microphone all the time in order to talk with you (and dangerous if your buddy also happens to be the driver). A much better solution (but it costs a few bucks more) is to do what I do and use a clip-on lapel microphone (which has a 3-foot cord attached to it) and clip it to the collar of your companion. Then you both can chat away and you’ll hear very well. I often do this with my wife when we are in the car. It also works well in noisy restaurants. (In the car, or at a restaurant, using the lapel microphone with it’s short 3-foot cord is much easier that trying to keep the 12 foot extension cord under control.)

Now we come to the important part. What do you need and how much does it cost?

1. PockeTalker ($129.50).

2a. If you are going to be using the t-coils on your hearing aids you’ll need a neckloop to hear via the PockeTalker ($47.95).

2b. If you are not going to be wearing your hearing aids, you’ll need a pair of earbuds or headphones. If you already have any you like, you can use them. You don’t need to buy more. However, you’ll need to get an adapter (which we can supply) or else you’ll only hear in one ear. (Earbuds for the PockeTalker that don’t need this adapter are $23.00.)

3. If you want the convenience of a lapel microphone with its short cord, you’ll need to get the lapel mic ($71.00).

Now comes the good part. If you’d like to save $68.00 off the above, instead of getting the PockeTalker, get it’s identical twin—the privately-labeled version—the Audable.

Furthermore, the Audable comes with deluxe headphones included so if you don’t wear your hearing aids, you can save an additional $23.00 on the earbuds if you don’t mind wearing headphones.

Note that the Audable does not come with the extension cord and TV microphone clips. (They are $12.00 extra.)

This should make your wallet happy. This is what I’d do if I were on a limited budget.

Order any/all of the above here.

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