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Assistive Listening Devices - Guest Post by Dr James Jackson

My employer Leeds Trinity University stepped up to provide assistive peripherals to help me, now that I've got that little bit deafer than before (we're down to a 90B loss if you remember. Thanks again to all concerned. As a Widex hearing aid wearer, I naturally need Widex gadgets, but I thought I would post on just how important these peripherals are, whatever (or whoever?) you wear. They. Are. Worth. The. Money. Even when your employer steps up and pays (thank you LTU) as I am now a much happier - and less fatigued - employee.

First, the Widex Sound Connect. The tiny USB gadget plugs into my University Surface Pro and streams all laptop sound directly into my Moment hearing aids. Teams meetings, the lot. I rarely need the captions now. It's so clear. And to showcase my gaming credentials (for good or bad), I've plugged this gadget into my home PC and played Cyberpunk 2077 with it. Prior to this, needed the sound cranked up. Now: I can hear the NPCs as I walk by. Not hearing a mumble while reading the dialogue suspended above their head. Hear the voices clearly. Totally new experience as when I lost my hearing as a child, I had a Sinclair Spectrum. Not had that kind of in-game experience in some years. And even then, only had 48k to play with.

Second, the Widex Sound Assist. The microphone. In the last few weeks, I have sat in several large meetings - and by large meetings, I mean 30+ colleagues strong. And in one case, 90+. When one colleague is speaking, it comes in clear as a bell, even from many metres away. And for the first time ever, if I'm sat at the front, I can hear questions from the back. Actually hear them, rather than the droning mumble of an adult speaking in the Charlie Brown cartoons. Even if they are at the other end of the same room. Astonishing!! I admit that it's less good in the middle of a small table surrounded by talking colleagues, but for committee meetings and conferences, it's amazing. I am no longer having to move concentration mountains just to tread water, and I feel I'm up-to-date with the discussions around me. I used to nod and say yes a lot. Or no if people were frowning. Sorry everyone (!)

But yes, if you are a hearing aid user, you may not be aware just how much effort you are putting in until you get home and find yourself too exhausted to watch TV or even read a book. It doesn't have to be that way. The technology (whichever brand) is out there.

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