Before we share our experiences with Phonak Roger, you might be wondering about the technology. Roger uses FM radio waves to stream sound from a remote microphone directly to hearing devices. T
he Roger system comes in several varieties. Phonak has created each to meet different hearing needs. From classrooms, to the office, to hanging out with friends, Roger is suitable for any listening situation.
Masks have been an obstacle for many who read lips. During the time of COVID-19, wearing masks can cause communication issues and loneliness.
During the later half of 2020, we celebrated the life of my friend who was diagnosed with terminal cancer. I’ve never had an issue with events because there are people who sign, and I read the lips of those who don’t sign. However, my friend’s partner does not know sign language. This was never an issue when I could read their lips, but with masks, I struggled. I wanted to be able to support them. So that day I made sure to bring my Roger Pen.
Being able to hand it off to them and talk from a safe distance was amazing. Being able to have a conversation, just me and them, helped create a closeness where the masks had put a barrier.
Read more: 7 Tips for using a Phonak Roger Pen
I have only used the Roger Pen, though I want to get the others to increase what I can do. Even with the Roger Pen, I have been able to do things I couldn’t before with only my hearing aids. One of those things is to talk to the teller at the bank. My bank has been getting rid of live tellers. Now there is a screen and the teller talks from somewhere else in the world. I could never understand the tellers so I would have them type out everything they said. One time I had someone who signed, but that’s not the norm. So, one day, I decided to plug my Roger Pen into the teller machine where headphones go, typically used for someone who is blind. It worked! I was able to hear the teller. Because everything said was pretty routine, I didn’t have any issues with comprehension.
Read more: How to choose a deaf-friendly bank
It may be awkward at first to hand off the device to others and let them know it will help you hear them, but it’s worth it! Communication runs so much smoother. I’m less afraid to be in a group setting. If no interpreters are at an event, I’m able to pass the pen to the speaker so I can hear (though I still complain about not having access by way of interpreters). In short, if you can get benefit from Phonak Roger systems, then you should try it out!
Read more: Watch: Phonak Roger technology for teens
As a Deaf and Autistic college student, I find myself in difficult listening moments all the time. My day consists of interacting with professors, my Autism counselors, and other students and staff. An added challenge is that all this happens online through video chatting platforms. Social distancing and masks makes this hard as well. I’m also constantly surrounded by the noisy, busy college environment.
Read more: How Phonak Roger can help with Autism
I received my Roger Select at the end of high school, just in time for the COVID chaos to begin. I wouldn’t be where I am without it. Being thrown into online classes was a hard transition. Now I had to deal with lipreading difficulty, connection issues, and muffled audio on top of my usual struggles. The listening fatigue hit me hard those couple of months. But, being able to plug my Roger in to my laptop reduced all that at-home background noise and made speech clear. This helped me immensely. I started getting better at advocating for myself in online classes. I felt more comfortable asking my fellow students or my teachers to repeat what they said instead of staying completely lost.
When it was time to transition to college, Roger made all my orientation Zoom meetings simple.
My school was able to provide a sign language interpreter for every class, which I’m grateful for. Being able to combine visual communication in ASL and auditory input from my Roger Select helps ensure I don’t miss anything. During in-person classes, I can easily set my Roger down on my professor’s desk while they’re speaking.
My first semester of college was challenging, but I find myself getting better every day. Not only does Roger help me hear in class, it encourages me to advocate for myself when an ASL interpreter isn’t present. It’s become easier to meet new people and say, “This is my hearing aid microphone, do you mind talking into it so that I can understand you?” For this reason, I take my Roger everywhere I go on campus. I never know when I’m going to need communication!
Read more: My transition to college as a deaf student
Roger has also given me a new sense of security during the pandemic.
At the start, I was anxious to leave home and live my life. Masks have taken away my ability to lipread. I always worried that I would miss out on what people were saying to me when going out on essential trips. Communication with my own family stopped completely whenever we were outside the home.
Being a Deaf child of immigrant parents, there were already several language barriers. Masks only made it more difficult. But now, there’s a huge weight lifted off my shoulders.
Communicating with my family again is as simple as clipping Roger Select onto their coat or shirt. My mom has even gotten comments like, “Cool necklace!” when she uses the Roger lanyard. I’m so grateful for my Roger system and everything it allows me to do!
“I’m so grateful for my Roger system and everything it allows me to do!”
Phonak Roger FM systems have changed the lives of many people. From individuals in school, places of employment, making friends, and even enjoying music.
Phonak is always improving on its work, and bringing excellent products to those with hearing loss.
You can talk to your hearing care provider about trying out Phonak Roger FM systems or find a hearing care specialist near you.