by Neil Bauman, Ph.D.
A human services specialist contacted me and explained:
I was recently contacted by a woman interested in a neckloop for her cell phone (via t-coil setting). She finally tried one out, and didn’t like the fact that she couldn’t hear herself speaking. She has a hearing aid in one ear, and a cochlear implant (CI) in the other. Do you have any suggestions on how to hook up a system where she’d be able to hear herself as well as have access to the t-coil amplification? I’ve racked my brain and am out of ideas! Any help you can offer would be greatly appreciated.
Unlike land line phones, cell phones don’t have “side tone” which allows you to hear your own voice in the receiver. If you have normal hearing, when using a cell phone, you hear your own voice via your other ear.
However, when you want to use a cell phone with a neckloop or Music Links, the hearing aid’s (and/or cochlear implant’s) microphones are turned off. Thus you can no longer hear yourself talk. As a result, you don’t know if you are talking too loud or whispering.
There are two ways to address this problem (apart from designing cell phones with side tone—but that would be too easy).
The simplest/easiest solution as I see it is to program her hearing aid (and/or CI) to the “MT” position (both microphone and t-coil on at the same time) instead of just the “T” position. Then she could hear her own voice as the microphone in her hearing aid (and/or CI) would pick her voice up and amplify it in that ear.
The other solution involves more technology—to create a pseudo-side tone. Here is one way she could do it using an independent system in tandem with the phone system.
For this to work, she’d need a PockeTalker (or other personal amplifier), a lapel microphone and a second neckloop or Music Links.
In practice, she would turn the PockeTalker on, place both neckloops around her neck and clip the lapel microphone to her collar. With her hearing aid and cochlear implant in their t-coil modes, she’d hear her cell phone via the one neckloop/Music Links, and hear her own voice via the second neckloop/Music Links via the PockeTalker.
Most hard of hearing people just learn how much vocal effort it takes to talk at sufficient volume that the person on the other end can hear them, and yet not so loud they are blasting everyone within earshot. If this doesn’t work for her, then one of the above two solutions should.