Manufacturer’s of digital hearing aids supply audiologists with computer software that allows them to change an aid’s settings. The audiologist can add or remove preset programmes and adjust various sound levels.
I think it would be really useful if us hearing aid wearers could have our own version of the software so that we could make modifications to our aid’s settings ourselves. This would be particularly useful when new aids are being trialled as it’s likely that during this time a lot of tweaks are going to be made to try and get them just right. If we could make some of the tweaks ourselves it would save trips to the audiologist, useful if you don’t live close or if the audiologist is very busy and you have to wait a while to get your aid modified.
Because most of us aren’t trained audiologists, our software would have to be simplified from what the audiologist would use. And that’s fine because it would be enough to give people basic functions with which they can tweak their aid’s settings.
Here’s some of the things I think could be safely modified by a wearer using personal-software:
- Overall volume up / volume down
- Add / remove / edit programme
- Run or remove feedback dampener
- Specific-range volume up or down
Possibly the user could select boxes that indicate a problem they are having with a certain sound range – they could select options like, “I can’t hear deep male voices”, “I can’t hear the telephone” and so on. Once they’ve made selections, the software could up the volume to try and help the particular problem.
The software could ask the user to listen to tones and then adjust the aid accordingly – like a hearing test. The software could come supplied with a ‘buzzer’ that the wearer presses when the hear a sound. Your own personal hearing test! Obviously this wouldn’t be a controlled test and wouldn’t be conducted in a soundproof environment. But it may allow people to make some modifications themselves.
It would be very important for the software to be able to undo any of the changes that the user makes. The user needs to be able to undo anything they change that doesn’t sound right. It would also be good for the user to be able to revert to the audiologists default settings.
I think that if personal hearing aid modification software was designed that was easy to use and foolproof then many people would be able to safely use it without damaging their aids or their ears. Maybe we wouldn’t be putting the audiologists out of business just yet, but we’d certainly cut down on their workload.