Madeline Brinkman, a recent university graduate with hearing loss and a member of the Phonak Teen Advisor program, shares how Phonak Roger On microphone is the perfect solution as she transitions to life after university.
The transition into adulthood has many challenges, some of which are unique to those with hearing loss. For me in particular, it is the challenge of disclosing my hearing loss and overcoming the associated barriers. The structure of school and university can be conforming and rigid. But there is a certain safety in school because of this structure. I knew exactly how I could navigate the classroom and enlist the help of my peers, teachers, and professors so that I could hear them better.
My solution was to use a microphone that would bring the sound directly of the speaker to my ears. Everyone had a common understanding of what to do because of this structure. The teacher or professor wore the microphone. They also knew how to turn it on or off in case the need arose. If there was a class discussion or debate, the microphone got passed around to the speaker. At the beginning of the year, there was the initial disclosure and explanation of how to use hearing equipment. From that point forward, I was surrounded by the same people for the rest of the year or semester. I didn’t need to continue to disclose my hearing loss repeatedly. Everyone around me already understood. Maybe there was an occasional reminder about waiting until the microphone reached the speaker or for the teacher to turn the microphone back on.
After graduating from university, this dynamic changed. Part of the transition into adulthood is the transition away from the safety and structure of school. Depending on the situation, there is no certainty of who is going to speak, let alone if it is someone who knows me. My previous solution of using a microphone for a single speaker is impractical in the world outside of school. There is not one guaranteed speaker. What I need to hear isn’t a lecture from one person. It’s more likely to be a conversation with multiple people. In this scenario, no one waits patiently to be called on and the conversation flows spontaneously from one speaker to another. These situations are not occurring in the same place, among the same people. They are happening in so many places, in restaurants, living rooms, and offices. Many speakers are coming in and joining temporarily.
Part of what helps me to hear conversations better in a less exhausting way is to use a microphone and have the speaker speak into it. For the most part, this doesn’t work without the person speaking wearing or speaking into the microphone. To do this, I must disclose my hearing loss and ask for their participation. Disclosing hearing loss repeatedly is exhausting, especially for people I know I am not going to see again. Additionally, the fluid nature of the changing setting and people in it means that using this assistance-based approach to hear these conversations is not practical. I needed a new solution that could work in multiple different settings with strangers.
“I needed a new solution that could work in multiple different settings with strangers.”
Enter Roger On. This microphone is perfect for the flexibility needed while I’m in this transitional phase. If I go to presentations, I can use it as I have traditionally. If I am in social settings, it’s great at picking up people in the circle of conversation. I also don’t need to disclose my hearing loss for these group situations. I can do this because of how this microphone is designed. During the conversation, I can point it discreetly at the speaker or place it on the table. This allows for the natural flow of the conversation to remain undisturbed in a way that allows me to participate. These types of conversations would be some that I would have sacrificed in the past in favor of keeping the natural flow intact.
What I especially love to do is to connect my Roger On to my phone. I can mute or change the directions of the speakers, all without fussing with it on the table while everyone watches. I’m able to be more discreet about my hearing loss in a way that does not sacrifice my participation. This also gives me the power to bring it up when I want to.
The structure of school was great in terms of planning ahead and coming up with an effective but static solution. However, now I am a phase in life where I am transitioning away from classes to the office and from the cafeteria to restaurants and cafes. And with the end of the pandemic in sight, I’m transitioning away from Zoom (with the closed captions and ability to plug in my mic) to being in people’s houses and living rooms. I needed a solution that was flexible and able to keep up with the changes happening in my life right now. Roger On has been that solution.
Read more: Why we use the Phonak Roger On