Dear Anna: What is the difference between all the wireless accessories available for hearing aids? I’ve heard about the Phonak Roger Pen, Com Pilot and others, but how do I know what is the best hearing aid accessory overall? – Sharon in Alberta, CA.
This is a question that comes up a lot and can be quite confusing, as there are many different types of hearing aid accessories. Some are multi-purpose devices and some are for one specific purpose.
Accessories are often recommended when the hearing aids alone can’t quite provide enough benefit in really challenging listening situations. People that struggle in these environments generally have a more severe type of hearing loss, but this doesn’t always have to be the case. Challenging listening environments vary, but a common complaint is not being able to hear speech in noise, especially over distance.
Hearing aid accessories come in a variety of wireless solutions that vary in price, style and function, so you need to decide together with your audiologist what device is going to best suit your needs and your budget.
The great thing is there is no right or wrong decision – but what are the differences?
For example, Phonak hearing aid accessories are roughly split into two groups of wireless technologies:
There are the Roger solutions, which were born out of an earlier technology( Phonak FM systems) and were predominantly used by children in a classroom situation, and general Phonak Wireless Accessories.
Roger devices are the gold standard when it comes to hearing speech in noise and over distance. They can be used by people of all ages and all models and brands of hearing aids (even hearing aids that are not Phonak can use Roger technology.) Roger systems are made up of a transmitter that communicates directly with the hearing aids by means of a Roger receiver (shoe) that can be attached to the hearing aid. Roger devices use a technology that is known as 2.4 GHz technology.
The portfolio of products has grown and offers solutions that can be used in the classroom (Roger Inspiro) out and about or at home (Roger Pen) and in the office (Roger Table Mic). These are just a few examples of the types of Roger solutions available.
So where do digital wireless accessories fit in ?
Phonak Wireless Accessories were developed separately to Roger and originally were referred to as a hearing instrument body area network (HiBAN). The concept behind these accessories was that they were designed to help a hearing aid user connect to devices directly like the telephone (EasyCall), TV (TV Link) and Music (ComPilot). This type of accessory does not need a receiver to be attached to the hearing aids, but you will always have to have a device that is known as the streaming device (Interface) that will stream the sounds you want to hear – from the device to your hearing aids.
These devices use a technology known as 10.6 MHz Technology.
So, before you decide on getting a hearing aid accessory, think about what situations you still find challenging to hear in, even when wearing hearing aids. Do you go out with friends a lot and have a difficult time hearing in noisy situations? Or do you want to hear the TV better? Answering this question will then help you and your audiologist come to a decision on a solution is right for you.
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