by Neil Bauman, Ph.D.
A man explained,
I have total loss of hearing in my right ear (treated acoustic neuroma) and moderate hearing loss in my left ear. I wear a BTE hearing aid in my left ear. Can you come up with some type of system that would enable me to hear my wife’s soft voice without constantly asking her to repeat herself when we are out together in the car.
I understand your situation. I can’t hear my wife in the car either. Since you are deaf in your right ear, your left ear has to do all the work. This results in two problems when you are driving. The first problem is what we call the “head shadow” effect. This is where your head effectively blocks most of the sound from your wife as it has to travel around your head to reach your opposite ear. Second, since your left hearing aid is beside the window, it picks up traffic and road noise better than your wife’s voice, which further exacerbates the situation.
Fortunately, there is a easy, and relatively cheap, solution to your problem. It works great for me, and should work great for you too. Here’s what I do.
I use a PockeTalker, lapel microphone. and either a neckloop or earbuds. The PockeTalker is a small portable personal amplifier. I normally put it in the cup holder between the front seats. To use it, I unplug the microphone that comes with the PockeTalker, and plug in the semi-directional lapel microphone I love. This microphone comes with an alligator clip that my wife clips to her collar or clothes close to her mouth.
To hear via the PockeTalker, I have two choices, depending whether I choose to wear my hearing aids or not. If I choose to wear my hearing aids, I plug a neckloop into the earphone jack on the PockeTalker, put it around my neck, switch my hearing aids to their T-coil mode and hear her voice loud and clear that way.
If I choose not to wear my hearing aids, I just plug the PockeTalker’s ear buds into the earphone jack instead of the neckloop, turn it on and adjust the volume for my wife’s voice. Now I can hear almost everything she says with little trouble. Both ways work great.
The same system also works great in noisy restaurants, or anywhere you and your wife are seated either beside each other, or across from each other.
Besides hearing my wife loud and clear, the good news is that this system doesn’t cost you an arm and a leg either!
This is all you need for your application. Try it and see if you don’t love this solution as much as I do.