What is a Roger Pen and is it worth it?
Being aware of the technology and resources available for someone with hearing loss is one of the biggest barriers in accessibility. Rebekah F. Cunningham, a Pediatric Business Development Manager at Phonak recently attended The Hands & Voices Leadership Conference 2017, and saw first-hand the response of users and parents who could benefit from hearing technology.
As I sat at my table in the Exhibits area of the The Hands & Voices Leadership Conference 2017 a young mother approached me.
She told me that her son, who was 2, had hearing loss and just received his hearing aids.
She asked me what I had on the table. It was a sleek, silver device that looks more like a pen than a hearing aid microphone.
I explained to her what the Roger Pen is and the benefits it could provide people with hearing loss. She put the headphones on and I paired the Roger Pen. Suddenly, her eyes grew wide. she reported that even in the background noise from all the people at the Exhibits, she could hear me clearly. She then asked me how her son could get one.
“Suddenly, her eyes grew wide. she reported that even in the background noise from all the people at the Exhibits, she could hear me clearly.”
Unfortunately, many young children with hearing loss do not have, nor have had exposure to, Roger technology.
As a Pediatric Business Development Manager at Phonak, I continue to search for ideas to ensure all young children with hearing loss have Roger. At the 14th annual Hands & Voices Convention, I was fortunate to be able to interact personally with approximately 75 parents of children who were deaf or hard of hearing, ranging in age from toddlers to college age.
My purpose: demonstrate Roger technology, understand parent needs regarding Roger, and share its benefits. And I was able to do that, more than 50 times! The results were wonderful, and eye-opening.
Without exception, parents were impressed with the improved speech understanding in noise that Roger provided. Many of them indicated that their child already had Roger technology; most of these parents knew that their child had “FM” in school. Only a handful reported Roger use at home. These parents (all but one!) had never heard Roger or what it could do to improve understanding.
Much like the young woman who inquired about getting Roger for her son, most of my visitors were amazed at Roger’s benefit; most expressed interest in getting Roger for home use after the demonstration. One woman took the Roger receiver outside the Exhibit area, and then outdoors, while her colleague spoke to her via the Roger Microphone. It was an amazing demonstration to the other parents of Roger’s capabilities to make understanding easier and over great distances!
How much does a Roger Pen cost?
Of course, the conversations occurred frequently on the cost of Roger, and who pays.
While most of the parents had not paid for the system their child used at school (nor had they heard what it could do!), the few who had Roger for home use reported different ways that it had been paid for. The use-at-home group was quick to tell other parents of Roger’s benefits! “I heard it’s expensive” was said on more than one occasion. The best response heard from another parent was a clear and strong “It’s totally worth it!”
The take away from this amazing conference is that we as pediatric audiologists need to demonstrate Roger to parents very early in the hearing loss journey. And for more than one mother, the cost of Roger for home was without question worth it.
I saw firsthand that when parents experience the benefits of Roger, they are impressed and they want one for their child at home. Even parents whose children had “FM at school” expressed interest in home use after the demonstration. The decision regarding Roger for home use is that of the family. It is the responsibility of hearing care professionals to provide that information to all. It is my responsibility to ensure that process is simple.
Do you use the Roger Pen? Tell us what you think about it in the comments!