Assistive hearing devices

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Straining to hear every word can be a thing of the past
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The assistive qualities of today's hearing devices fill many needs

Cover your ears with duct tape. No, don’t. It’s easy enough to imagine the muffled world of folks living with hearing loss—moderate or extreme. Some hear nothing, an aural parallel to total blindness. Others experience hearing problems that render the sufferers unable to hear sounds of certain frequencies—the high tones of many musical scores or the upper ranges of voices. 

There are many types of hearing problems and thanks to modern science many types of assistive hearing devices. Today’s assistive hearing devices are the offspring of years of research. Many are designed for use in the home or the workplace. 

Hearing loss is a problem faced by persons of all ages. Teenage concert goers and preteen ear bud users are at risk. Adults working in high-noise environments such as those found at construction sites and in manufacturing plants are at risk. 

Assistive hearing devices also are especially helpful to seniors, active folks who are intent on living a life with full social interactions. They, too, can benefit from assistive hearing devices. 

Products in the marketplace are abundant and some are quite inventive. One of note is an extra-loud alarm clock with a pillow shaker feature and bright, flashing light. Other devices include vibrating watches and phone strobe flashers that light up and blink when a call comes in.

Available now are scores of assistive hearing devices

A growing need for assistive hearing devices has opened the door to increased efforts at education about hearing loss. Those afflicted often feel frustrated at their inability to catch all the wonderful nuances associated with the spoken word of others. They often feel left out of the loop. 

The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) is one of many respected institutions offering tips that may help make life a little smoother for a person with hearing loss—and for those who communicate with them. The AAFP tips suggest maintaining eye contact while speaking and talking a bit more slowly and distinctly to the person. Add a variety of assistive hearing devices and the gap is narrowed even more. 

• Vibrating clocks with bed-shaking attachments
• Loud phones with blinking-light signals
• Wireless headphones for use with televisions
• Sound amplifiers for classroom situations
Sign language flash cards and learning materials
• Wireless loud doorbells that flash a lighted signal
• Cell phone amplifiers and headsets
• Text cell phones that spell out messages

Hearing loss is a condition helped by many aids

The assistive hearing devices used by hearing-impaired people surely make common interactions easier and more fulfilling. In addition, many have learned American Sign Language (ASL). Those with hearing problems who attend the theater or lectures or classes at their local community colleges may have access to interpreters and assistants who are masters at American Sign Language—a system of communication using hand signals, facial expressions, body postures and other movements. 

Friends and family members of people with hearing problems also can learn sign language. The effort to learn to sign opens yet another doorway to communication. A friendly visit is enjoyable for all when someone who cares has acquired an American Sign Language dictionary as a help in talking to the deaf or hard-of-hearing person.

The number of assistive hearing devices employed in American households is vast. Deafness, whether severe or mild, is an affliction that impacts every aspect of life for the person who is deaf and also for those in their sphere of activity. 

Statistics show 1 of 20 people in the United States is moderately or profoundly hard of hearing. That figure, translated, means the condition is common to some 28 million Americans. Chances are good that they would like to be treated with the same enthusiasm and respect afforded people with good hearing. 

If you know someone hard-of-hearing, why not take some time to get better acquainted? Go to a community event. Learn to play cards. Share some easy soup recipes. It’s amazing how relationships thrive when understanding is at the root.

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