by Neil Bauman, Ph.D.
A man had trouble hearing using his hearing aid’s t-coils. I suggested that he go to his audiologist and have the volume set to a level equal to that of his hearing aids’ microphones. When that is done, switching from microphone mode to t-coil mode would produce sounds at the same volume.
I made an appointment with my audiologist to have the t-coil volume increased. Well, my audiologist did her computer magic and VIOLA!!! In fact, she also increased the volume on my right aid. Now, when I use the telephone, I actually have to turn down the volume of the phone a little bit!
To test my t-coils for proper volume and balance, my audiologist took me into her waiting room which is “looped” and I was able to tell her which aid needed to be adjusted up or down. As well as the loop being a convenience to waiting patients, it is also a “tool” she is able to use in cases like mine. I was beyond impressed at the magic she was able to perform. However, she cautioned me that not all hearing aid t-coils volume can be adjusted. She listed some factors such as must be programmable, digital, certain manufacturers, etc.
The good news is that this audiologist was able to set the t- coils to the proper volume for this man. Also, I heartily commend her for looping her waiting room.
The bad news is that obviously she didn’t set up the t-coils properly in the first place when she sold the hearing aids to this man. Why ever not? This is just plain shoddy fitting practice, and shows disrespect towards hard of hearing people. We deserve better. I’m not the only one who thinks this.
For example, in response, Audiologist Brad Ingrao, Au.D. (an audiologist I truly respect for his knowledge of what hard of hearing people really need) wrote:
I’m happy to hear that your audiologist was able to solve your problem, however as an audiologist, I feel the need to dispel the concept that what she did was magic. What she did was called verification. I am glad to hear that she did it, but the fact of the matter is that, it should have been done initially!
Verifying that hearing aids are performing to the needs of the patient in all modes should be standard practice. Unfortunately, too many audiologists and dispensers trust the computer screens created by manufacturers and then ‘fine tune’ until they (hopefully) get it right.
There are several studies demonstrating that the computer screens are wrong. An even more disturbing fact is that even though we all know that independent verification (i.e. ‘Real Ear’ testing) improves the accuracy of fittings, less than 20% of hearing care professionals do it on a regular basis.
Therefore before you go to an audiologist or hearing aid dispenser, ask them two simple questions.
1. Do you do real ear testing to verify your set up of each person’s hearing aids?
2. Do you have a loop system (either a room loop or something as simple as a PockeTalker and neckloop) that you use to check your set up of the t-coils on each person’s hearing aids?
If the answer to either of these questions is “no,” run the other way. Keep looking for a professional that does those two simple things. Just doing those two simple things can make all the difference to how well you like your new hearing aids.