Phone clips/controls allow you to wirelessly connect (pair) your hearing aids with your mobile phone. Both your hearing aids and your mobile phone need to have Bluetooth for this to work.
When your phone rings, you press the button on the phone clip and hear the phone call in your hearing aids. There is no need to pick up your phone – in fact your phone can be 10 metres away and you can still have a conversation.
The phone clip has a volume control so you can adjust the sound up and down. A useful feature of the phone clip is that it can turn off your hearing aid microphones, so all you hear is the phone call. This is especially useful if, for example, you are on a building site with noisy machinery; the hearing aids don’t pick the extra noise up, just the phone call. When the phone call is finished you push the button again and the hearing aids return to normal function.
Phone clips come in two types, those that require an aerial to be worn around your neck (just a thin cord and it can be worn under clothing) or the more practical, those that clip to a pocket or belt.
Like remotes, phone clips are not universal and each brand of hearing aid uses their own phone clip device.
There is 6 hours of talk time, and 80 hours of standby, call reject and transfer and last number dialled. It can also be simultaneously connected to more than one Bluetooth device such as a mobile phone and an iPad.
Mini Microphones are the latest wireless devices available to work with hearing aids. Depending on the brand these small microphones vary in size from ones about half the size of the average finger, to ones about 3/4 the size of a matchbox).
The big advantage of microphones is that they give greater enhanced sound pickup. They can be attached to a speaker’s lapel, placed on a table, or worn by the person with the hearing aids, giving a more powerful sound pickup from their much more powerful microphone, compared to the hearing aid microphone. The microphones will have no difficulty working in a big hall or church for example, as their range is at least 7 metres with 8½ hours of talk time per battery charge. They can also be plugged into external audio sources such as a computer, MP3 player or stereo.
Brilliant for meetings, these microphones can give you an enhanced ability to catch everything that’s being said; even the little asides. They will still work when you are out of the room so you can hear what’s happening while you are making a cup of tea!
For many hearing aid wearers, not being able to have the TV at a comfortable level for both themselves and the other people in the room makes TV watching a real disappointment. For those that live alone for example; it doesn’t matter how loud you have the TV, but when you visit family you need to have it at their level.
A wireless TV accessory is also paired with the hearing aid (it takes about 10 seconds). Your audiologist will probably do it at the clinic which means it is ready to plug in as soon as you get home. (Please note that some older TVs may need a special digital adaptor which is available free of charge at the clinic). The wireless TV device plugs into the “audio out” of the TV. You press the button on your remote and you then hear the TV in your hearing aids at whatever volume you want regardless of where the TV volume is set. This is called “streaming”.
Although the remote makes the TV operation considerably easier, it’s not essential as the streaming mode can be accessed from the program button on the hearing aid.
The whole system is completely portable - you can even take it with you to watch TV if visiting family. For example, you just unplug it from your TV and plug it into the “audio out” on their TV. It will also work with other audio devices like stereos or computers.
Here, there are two options. Some hearing aid companies (e.g. Oticon) offer a wireless adapter that works with a regular landline phone just as the mobile phone Bluetooth system. It is completely portable and can be used on any phone.
The second option is to get an amplified phone. These range in price from less than $100 for the really basic models to much more sophisticated ones for around $600 - these will even auto dial your family or friends if you don’t check in.
The clinic has a number of options available and you can take one home to try it out for a week, if you are unsure as to what you need. For Phonak hearing aids in particular, there is a new amplified phone which is suitable for even those with very severe hearing loss. It connects automatically to the hearing aids (no pairing is required) and allows much clearer listening. It will work with non Phonak hearing aids as a nice slim cordless amplified telephone.