by Paula Rosenthal, J.D.
As a hearing aid user for 32 years and also a parent of a child who has worn
aids for 4 years, determining whether new hearing aids are necessary has not
always been clear cut. As with most aspects of managing hearing loss, it is up
to you to be proactive in determining if new hearing aids and assistive
listening devices (ALDs) are appropriate. Don't wait for your hearing healthcare
professionals (doctors, audiologists, etc.) to keep you up-to-date on the latest
products available. Follow these tips below to help assess the need for new
hearing aids for yourself or your child.
1. The Audiologist
Be sure to find a reputable audiologist whose opinion you trust. A good
audiologist will have information on and distribute many brands of hearing aids
and assistive devices. For children, educational audiologists are preferable as
they are more apt to understand the specific needs children have for hearing and
acoustics in classrooms. To find out if there is an educational audiologist in
your area, contact the Educational Audiology Association, 4319 Ehrlich Road,
Tampa, Florida 33624, phone: 800.460.7322, Email:
Another source for a children's audiologist is to contact a local school for
deaf and/or hearing impaired children and ask if they have an audiology
department or an audiologist on staff. Let your audiologist know that you are
interested in learning about new technology and advancements.
2. Changes in Hearing
If your or your child's hearing changes and is determined to be a permanent,
sensorineural loss (not conductive), ask the audiologist if a stronger pair of
hearing aids are necessary. Some hearing aids offer considerable gain and may
only need an adjustment to be tuned to the new level of hearing loss. If they
don't offer more gain, or they are already using most of the amplification
available, it may be time to consider a more powerful hearing aid.
3. Changes in Speech
If you notice that your or your child's speech sounds sloppy or begins to
regress, request a new hearing and speech evaluation. Changes in speech may be
indicative of a change in hearing and may warrant an adjustment on the current
aids or a new pair of hearing aids.
4. Testing New Hearing Aids
At least once or twice a year, ask the audiologist if there are any new hearing
aids available or coming onto the market that may be suitable for you or your
child. If there is, set up a trial period. Have the audiologist conduct an aided
hearing evaluation after the new hearing aids have been worn for at least a week
or more. New hearing aids can take several days to get used to. Compare the
aided results to recent tests with the original pair of aids. This will help
assess whether the new pair of aids offers enough benefit to consider purchasing
5. Stay Informed
Make it a habit to periodically check the hearing aid manufacturers' web sites
for information on new products. The Resource Directory at HearingExchange
offers links to several top hearing aid manufacturers' sites here:
Another way to stay informed of new products is to visit the News section of HearingExchange which is located on the main page at
News articles are updated regularly.
There are also some daily listserves that can keep you abreast of hearing aid
and assistive technology news. My favorites are: bhNews and USA-L News. To
subscribe, send a blank email to
a blank email to
USA-L_Newsemail@example.com. Consider receiving
these in digest format as they send out many articles each day.
Accurately fitted hearing aids are important for listening, comprehension and
speaking. It also plays a significant part in the emotional well-being of
hearing impaired adults and children. By keeping these tips in mind, you will
have a better idea of when new hearing aids may be necessary.
Paula Rosenthal, J.D. is married and a mother of two young children. She, her
husband and daughter are all hearing impaired. Her son has normal hearing. Paula
is the founder and publisher of http://www.HearingExchange.com, an online
community of resources and support for people with hearing loss, parents of deaf
and hard of hearing children and professionals who work with them.
Subscribe to HearingExchange News and any of the other free newsletters and chat
reminders available at
© Copyright Paula Rosenthal, 2002. All rights reserved. Reproduction of this
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