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Ask Anna: What is the best FM system for schools?

technology for deaf students
Ask Anna is an advice column for the hearing loss community. This week, Phonak Marketing Manager Whitney Spagnola, who has two children with hearing loss of her own, steps in to answer this common question.

Dear Anna:

My deaf child wears Phonak hearing aids at school, but still struggles to hear in the classroom. Our educational audiologist suggested a remote microphone, but there are many different technologies available. How do I know what the best FM system is for my child?

– Back to School

What’s the best FM system for deaf students and schools?

Dear Back to School,

You’re right. Many children with hearing loss can benefit from having a remote microphone in the classroom. There’s just too much noise and distance that has to be overcome and hearing aids are only able to amplify sounds within a certain range of the wearer.

The Phonak remote mic system, called Phonak Roger, is one solution. It’s an adaptive, digital FM system. Other hearing aid manufacturers may also have educational microphone technology for deaf students. However, not all devices are created equal.

There are two big reasons why many Educational Audiologists prefer Roger technology for deaf students.

  1. Roger is universal and will work with any hearing aid, whether it’s a Phonak hearing aid or another brand. For a school, it means that they’re investing in a future proof solution, if they get Roger.
  2. The key difference between Phonak Roger and other solutions is the patented technology in Roger. As a classroom’s noise changes, the microphone and the receiver attached to the hearing aid, send signals to each other acknowledging the increasing noise level, and they are able to change the blend of sound within the system itself. To understand this, think about a noisy school environment. Maybe there is another class passing in the hall or children chatting with their neighbors, and the teacher says “Okay pull out your math books.” With the wrong remote mic, the child may not hear or misunderstand the directions. Unlike his peers.

Phonak Roger technology is able to reduce the chatter and background noise while increasing the teacher’s voice. This feature creates a 30% increase in comprehension between the two systems. Additionally, between the Roger system and FM technology it’s a 54% increase in speech intelligibility, according to a Thibedeau study from 2014 comparing Traditional FM to Dynamic FM to Roger.

Read more: How to make your classroom accessible using Roger technology

Many clinical audiologists are not always aware of why one system is different from the other and sometimes will indicate that there isn’t much of a difference. However, the Educational Audiologists Association, often names Roger as the only choice for deaf students, citing the speech intelligibility performance as why.

The benefits of Roger are universal. No matter if your child is wearing Phonak, Advanced Bionics, Unitron hearing aids, or another brand. They can all benefit.

In my mind, for both of my children, Roger is the only option in the classroom. Even if my children switch to wearing a different hearing aid brand, I still request this mic system for the classroom.

Hearing loss at school: How Roger helps students hearing better

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Author Details
The HearingLikeMe editorial team includes Jill Blocker von Bueren and Lisa Goldstein.