Hearing Aids & Assistive Devices

Theresa Pitt, Aud.D., FISHAA., Audiology Services in S.E. Ireland.
theresapitt@eircom.net for Clinic Details or Sound Advice !

Hearing Aids and Assistive Devices : Hearing Aids are increasingly common and increasingly small. They should be designed to suit the hearing loss of the person as hearing losses and ears come in an infinite variety!. Most properly fitted hearing aids will still need adjustment and practice before they are most effective.

Aid types most often seen: In-the-Ear aids are most common but can be difficult to control and adjust for very elderly people or those with weak hands. The tiny hearing aid that you can see here could be a programmable instrument - with a number of digital chips on which information can be stored - which can be connected to a computer-based programming device in order to 'fine-tune' the hearing aid for the individual. These can adapt the loudness of the hearing aid according to the incoming sound level in the most comfortable way for the person wearing the hearing aid, and even filter out some of the background noise. These type of 'digital' or 'digitally programmable' hearing aids are more common and with a better price range. Other technologies such as 'MULTI-MICROPHONE' technologies are also helping to improve the ability of hearing impaired people to hear what they want to hear!

Behind-the-Ear aids can be digital, programmable or non-programmable; they have a separate earpiece called earmould which can be replaced easily - VERY practical for children with growing ears but whose hearing loss stays the same! So don't be fooled into thinking that larger means old-fashioned; for many with more severe loss, the Behind-the-Ear aid offers more possibilities and clearer sound.Cochlear Implants give sound to people who had none before, even with other powerful hearing aids. However, they are not miracle cures and involve considerable assessment and counselling both before and after surgery for full benefit. Hearing aids should always be tried first. Beaumont Hospital are the only centre in the Republic of Ireland - there is another centre in Belfast.

Children in Ireland are all entitled to free hearing aids through Health Boards if needed, as are adults with Medical Cards. Others must buy their hearing aids; P.R.S.I. payers can get partial refunds if they are fitted by a Hearing Aid Audiologist who is registered with the Department of Social Welfare. Make sure to ask before you buy.

Other assistive devices, such as telephone amplifiers, room or personal induction loops (with T setting on the aid), extension or flashing doorbells, usually have to be bought but tend to cost less than hearing aids. Some devices, such as the Minicom system which is a Text Telephone for very deaf people, may be grant-aided; also, if the device is required at your workplace to assist you with your job, then you may be entitled to a grant for this - ask N.A.D.

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