Options to Help the Hearing-Impaired in Canada
There are many options to help hearing impaired adults in Canada; these are generally known as amplification options. Hearing aids, of course, are available, but so are FM systems and implanted devices. There are two important things to consider when selecting a device to help hearing impairment and that is 1) how the device looks and 2) the technology that works best for your, particular, hearing loss.
Here are the hearing aid options to help hearing impairment according to the Canadian Academy of Audiology (CAA):
- In-the-ear hearing aid: This is perhaps the most popular style of hearing aid and it fits in the ear canal and in the outer part of the ear (concha). This style does work for many people but the downside is that it can’t be used with other assistive hearing devices like FM systems and it’s not sufficient for those who have suffered severe hearing loss.
- Behind-the-ear hearing aid: The electronics in this type of hearing aid are set behind the ear and the amplified sound is sent to the ear through tubing and an ear mold. The advantages of this design are that it can work for even severe hearing loss and can be used in conjunction with other hearing assistive devices.
- Open fit hearing aid: This type of hearing aid is similar to the behind-the-ear type in that the electronics are kept behind the ear but the tube that carries the sound into the ear is slim and this results in an open fit without plugging the ear. The advantage of this is a comfortable fit and an elimination of problems hearing your own voice. However, this type of hearing aid isn’t appropriate for severe hearing loss.
- Contralateral routing of signal (CROS): This type of hearing aid is designed for people with one ear that has hearing loss so severe that it cannot be aided by amplification. In this system, a microphone is placed on the ear with the severe hearing loss and the sound it picks up is routed to the better ear.
Other Devices to Help Hearing Impairment
- FM systems: These help hearing impairments by reducing the noise of the surrounding environment. The system is comprised of one part that is placed near the desired sound (speaker, television, stereo, etc.) that transmits it to the second part (either a hearing aid or headphones) which is used by the listener. This wireless system allows the hearing impaired person to hear the sound above any background noise.
- Cochlear implant: The cochlea the spiral-shaped part of the inner-ear that translates sounds into nerve impulses to be sent to the brain. In a cochlear implant, electrodes are implanted in the cochlea and these receive signals from a receiver that is implanted behind the ear. These signals are received by the auditory nerve, directed to the brain, and interpreted as sounds. It takes time for a person to fully gain the benefit from a cochlear implant and it must be programmed for the person over the course of months. This device is designed for use by those that have suffered severe sensorineural hearing loss.
- Bone conduction amplification device (BCAD): This device consists of two parts: a sound processor that sits behind the ear and a small, titanium fixture that is implanted behind the ear. Sound is conducted through the bone rather than via the middle ear. According to the CAA, BCADs are used for people with chronic ear infections, congenital conductive hearing loss, and/or single-sided deafness.
For more information on options to help hearing-impaired adults, please see Amplification Options for Adults by the CAA.
“This article was written by award-winning mental health writer and speaker, Natasha Tracy.”