Today’s technology allows us to be connected electronically more than ever. Many people regularly use electronics (such as computers, laptops, cell phones, iPads, tablets) for communication, education, work and, of course, fun.
Some people may use headphones for enhanced audio streaming when using these devices. However, for individuals with hearing loss who use hearing devices (like hearing aids, bone conduction hearing devices, cochlear implants), headphones or listening via a speaker typically results in a less than ideal listening experience.
There is good news. Recent advances in hearing device technology provide children with hearing loss the convenience of direct audio streaming to their hearing devices via Bluetooth. More specifically, Bluetooth allows the hearing device to function as a wireless headset for any modern smartphone and other compatible devices. Using Bluetooth is optional, and Bluetooth-capable hearing devices are compatible with iOS (Apple products) and Android. Children and teenagers today are more adept with electronics, which makes wireless streaming to hearing devices more appealing.
Benefits of using Bluetooth-capable hearing devices
- Mobile connectivity. You can connect iOS and Android to your hearing devices.
- Function like personal headphones. You can stream a phone call, video or music to your hearing devices.
- Personalization. You can download a hearing device app designed by your hearing device manufacturer, which allows you to create and switch programs, adjust volume and check the battery level. This feature is commonly used by adults and older teens.
Ways to use Bluetooth in hearing devices on a compatible device
- Phone call/FaceTime. When you are having a conversation with someone, you can stream the conversation to your hearing devices as if they are headphones. This creates an improved sound quality, and you will not have to work as hard to listen.
- TV/social media. You can stream your favorite TV show or a YouTube video to your hearing devices.
- Listen to e-books, music and podcasts. You can stream these directly to your hearing devices for high-quality sound.
- Virtual learning/lectures. Virtual instruction has become a common educational format for many students, especially during the pandemic. Virtual instruction requires students to listen to teachers via a computer. Students may be able to stream the teacher’s voice to their hearing devices.
Precautions of using Bluetooth in hearing devices
- Battery consumption. More frequent use of Bluetooth in your hearing devices will result in faster battery drain.
- Streaming in class. Many of us love to use smartphones and other electronics, but we also want to make sure that a student is listening to a teacher’s lecture instead of discreetly streaming Spotify® to their hearing devices!
Most Bluetooth-capable hearing devices provide wireless audio connection to smartphones and other compatible devices, which provides an enhanced listening experience. This is an exciting opportunity for children and teenagers with hearing loss to connect with the world around them. For more information, please reach out to your audiologist or to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Department of Audiology, at 215-590-7463.
Submitted by Nicklaus Arra, AuD, CCC-A
Contributed by: Nicklaus Arra, AuD, CCC-A