Monday, January 19, 2015

Ear Hook "Headphones" for Hearing Aid Users

We gave up on Julia privately listening to games or music for quite some time after hitting a frustration limit with her Phonak iCom. It became too much of an event to get that finicky device to sync with the hearing aids. I resigned myself to a life of listening to secondhand Taylor Swift and Minecraft villager grunts.

Then I encountered a middle schooler with hearing loss. Unable to be separated from her iPod, even during classes, the older girl uses a simple solution: t-coil ear hooks. No buttons, no Bluetooth, no high technology, just reliable access to her music.

Julia using her ear hooks as she plays Lep's World.

We ordered Music-Link ear hooks online for about $40. Julia's hearing aids had to be programmed at the audiologist to enable the t-coil. When the t-coil is active the FM receivers are not. Her default program is FM + Mic for school and a second program activates the t-coil. So there is one button to push on one hearing aid to put the whole setup into the correct program for the ear hooks.

The important part is that it works. She hangs the ear hooks right alongside her BTE hearing aids and plugs the 3.5mm stereo plug into whatever she's listening to. It is a foolproof, worry-free system.

Best of all, it looks just like she's wearing ear bud headphones. There's no odd silver necklace like with the iCom. She could walk into Middle School and look just like all of the other iPod zombie children.

Someday soon, that will probably be the ear hook's most attractive feature.