Being able to use discrete hearing technology is nice because it allows me to hear better without being too obvious about my needs. The Phonak Roger Pen, a hearing-aid compatible wireless microphone, is a great example of this.
The Roger Pen is a fantastic piece of equipment that makes people’s voices clearer over the background noise, which means that deaf people don’t have to concentrate as hard in loud situations (i.e. in meetings, at school, in restaurants, etc.). Most of all, it provides people with hearing loss a little bit of extra independence.
I use my Roger Pen mostly at at work, and it has been interesting to watch how other people react to this piece of equipment. Most people don’t know what it is, or how to use it, so while the person with hearing loss needs to understand how it works, it’s just as important that the other people interacting with it understand the technology as well.
If you have a Roger Pen, or know someone who has, please follow these important tips for how to use it:
Experiment with it
It takes time to get used to a new technologies, especially something as advanced as the Phonak Roger Pen, but it’s very simple to use. I used mine in a variety of settings, for example at work in meetings, in bars, restaurants, supermarkets, and I’ve found that it works better in some environments than others.
There are some very cool features in the Roger Pen, such as the Bluetooth setting that allows me to listen to music or TV with it. Users can also connect it to their mobile phone, or they can use it with other Roger products, such as the Phonak ComPilot or Table Microphone.
It’s a microphone, not a pen!
Most people who come into contact with the Roger Pen for the first time might not understand what it is. It’s great to make sure that you explain to them what it is used for and how it benefits people with hearing loss. Other people I know who have Roger Pens have said that people have mistook it for an actual pen because of the way it looks! I always hope people won’t take mine away by accident, as it’s an expensive piece of equipment!
Talk normally into the Roger Pen
One thing I’ve noticed is that people often shout or speak slowly into the Roger Pen. I think the main reason is because they can’t hear what it sounds like, unlike a normal microphone where they can hear themselves speaking. It works like an ordinary microphone, it’s job is to amplify the sound but directly to the hearing aids or cochlear implant.
If the speaker is unsure if they are speaking clearly enough, ask the deaf person if they can understand. Surely, if the listener’s face flinches when listening, it’s probably a sign to tone the voice down a bit.
Hold the pen still
The Roger Pen works best when it is placed on a surface or it is held still. This means that the microphone can pick up the person’s speech a lot clearer, than if it is waved around- which picks up the background noises too. The pen is not a wand! If someone wants to understand what you mean, ask them to imagine waving a normal microphone around. It can be rather annoying if the deaf person keeps hearing ‘whooshes’ of wind and feedback!
Make use of the lanyard
Sometimes the Roger Pen comes with a lanyard. It can be clipped onto the Pen so people can wear it around their necks. This is particularly useful for those who do public speaking or teaching, or even for those who like to use their body language. It means that they don’t have to hold it. If it’s around their neck, people often forget it’s there, which is good because they can speak normally and teach like they would usually, without overthinking about the microphone.
If someone is passing the Roger Pen around, advise them not to wrap the lanyard around it, especially if it covers the microphone part of the Pen. This makes lots of rustling noises and creates feedback into the deaf person’s ears. It also restricts the actual speech sounds needed to travel through the microphone.
Just imagine it’s not there
This is a tip that I like to emphasis to all my Roger Pen users; just imagine that it’s not there!
If you treat it like an ordinary stage microphone which you wear, or have on the table it often gets the best use out of it because people aren’t faffing about with it.
Respect the equipment and the person using it
Phonak Roger Pens are very expensive, believe it or not! It is used to help make deaf person’s life a bit easier. If you can respect the equipment as if it’s your own, the owner would really appreciate it.
Enjoy and make the most of it!
As I mentioned previously, the Roger Pen is one of the most brilliant inventions I’ve seen for deaf people. For those who are lucky enough to have one, make the most of it! It really makes communication much easier. Why not try using it in different situations? Eloise, a fellow Hearing Like Me blogger, recently shared her 5 favourite places which she uses her Roger Pen. I’m looking forward to continuing to find the best uses for mine.
If you’re interested in purchasing a Phonak Roger Pen, why not have a chat with your audiologist to see what they can offer for you.
Ellie was born profoundly deaf, uses verbal communication, lipreads and wears Phonak hearing aids. She is currently learning British Sign Language. Ellie hasn’t let her disability stand in the way and embraces every new challenge. Her deafness didn't prevent her from achieving major accomplishments in her life, such as excelling in her education, working as a Marketing Executive for a Spa & Health Club, Events and Promotions Staff for a local newspaper as well as blogging for Hearing Like Me. She is passionate about deaf awareness, campaigning for equality and helping others through her personal blog as Deafie Blogger.