by Neil Bauman, Ph.D.
When you get “turned on” at your first cochlear implant (CI) mapping session, it’s a given that the sounds you’ll first hear will not sound normal at all. Don’t be surprised at the strange, robotic nature of the voices you first hear. In time, your brain will learn to understand them and they will begin to sound normal to you.
In order to help your audiologist produce the best map, you’ll need to describe these unearthly sounds and often that can be a challenge. To make things easier for you, following is a list of words people with cochlear implants have used to describe the quality of sounds they heard during or after mapping sessions.
These words also may relate to sounds people have experienced that may indicate a problem with equipment (i.e., a processor cord). Note that how one person perceives a sound may not be the same as another person might perceive that same sound, thus, words on this list could mean entirely different things to different people. When choosing a term(s) to describe your listening experience, be prepared to explain it in more detail to your audiologist.
Here’s some words to get you started.
Bottom of a Barrel/Well
Frog in throat
Fuzzy on the edges
Hissy/”essi” (too much, or not enough “s”)
Off the station (radio out of tune)
Out of Focus
Out there (voices sound disconnected from bodies)
Piss-y (“P” sounds)
Pointy (like “crisp”)
Sibilant (too hissy)
Note: The words on the above list were contributed by adult cochlear implant users on the CI Forum and Nucleus Forum and compiled by Camille Jones. This list may be reprinted for further distribution. July 2, 2001; Revised May 2005. The original of this list is located at http://www.cochlearcommunity.com/data/files/E/EllenBR/Say_It_in_CI_-_by_Camille_Jones.pdf.