My entire life I’ve had hearing aids and I’m only 22. So, no, hearing aids are not just for the elderly. When I was younger, I believed my hearing aids were something to be ashamed of, but I have eventually grown to embrace them as a lifeline and as a part of who I am. I am not the girl with the hearing aids. I am the hard-working, talented woman who happens to wear hearing aids. It’s important that people realize that individuals with a disability are not stupid, incapable, or dumb. Unfortunately, I’ve encountered people who treat me as though I am.
I recently purchased new hearing aids (For the record, hearing aids are not covered by insurance and I am seriously considering lobbying against this in Washington, D.C.), which came with an optional add-on device called an iCom. This iCom is what you see in the picture above. It is a device that you wear around your neck that allows you to program multiple bluetooth-equipped phones. Thinking this was too good to be true, I tested it on the iPhone. Sure enough, I was able to send and receive calls hands-free without the phone (after dialing the number, of course), as long as I was inside a 30-foot radius.
Feeling empowered, I moved on to test the music adapater. The adapter connects to any music device with a headphone jack, such as an iPod. The hearing aids make a signaling sound to let me know that a device is connected wirelessly. I can control whether or not the music plays either through the device itself, or through my iCom with the simple press of the square button. In addition, the hearing aids work with FM radio, although, I have to admit I haven’t tried it yet. All in all, a pretty cool breakthrough for hearing aid technology.
Technology is taking a step in the right direction. If people without hearing loss are already hooking up their phones to a bluetooth device, doesn’t it make sense to build a hearing aid with the same bluetooth technology? It happened and I can’t wait to see what will roll out next. My hope is that the iPhone will be bluetooth-compatible with the music (apparently it’s not, right now). Does anyone know of a bluetooth-equipped phone that will play music?
Interested in finding out more about these hearing aids for yourself, a friend, or a loved one? Check out Phonak’s Exelia website. You can also read more about hearing loss at KidsHealth.org or TeensHealth.org (in English or Espanol).