Hearing aid technology is constantly improving. Hearing aids today have small computers inside that measure the sound coming into the hearing aid and automatically adjust how the hearing aid processes that sound. Many features are available and may be used depending on your child's age, including:
Digital hearing aids have the ability to reduce the amount of background noise a user hears. The hearing aid analyzes sounds entering the hearing aid. If a sound is an unwanted ambient noise that may be distracting – the hum of an air conditioner or classroom projector – it will decrease the volume of that sound. If the sound entering the hearing aid is speech it will try to maintain or increase the volume of speech so the user can hear it more clearly.
Many hearing aids are able to connect to devices via Bluetooth. Some hearing aids connect directly to the Bluetooth devices. Others require that the hearing aid be connected to an intermediary device which then connects to the Bluetooth devices. This intermediary device is worn around the neck or clipped to your clothing.
Connecting your child's hearing aids to a cell phone, tablet, laptop or music player through Bluetooth allows your child to hear the phone conversation, video, game or music directly through their hearing aids.
Some manufacturers have apps for cell phones or tablets that connect to your child's hearing aids allowing you to see the hearing aid battery life, monitor or change the volume settings or change the listening program for them.
Wireless compatibility also allows some hearing aids to connect to small microphones.
An individual's dynamic range is the
difference in volume between the softest sound they can hear and the loudest sound they can tolerate. This allows them to hear a difference between a whisper and someone shouting. An individual with a hearing loss has a smaller dynamic range because the softest sound they can hear is already louder than that of a person with normal hearing. When a hearing aid uses compression, it makes sounds louder by different amounts depending on how loud the sound is to begin with. This way the patient can hear all sounds and still maintain the ability to tell the difference between a whisper and someone shouting.
Hearing aids generally have more than one microphone. Depending on the amount of noise in the room each hearing aid may be more sensitive to sounds coming from a particular direction.
In noisy situations, directional microphones focus on what is in front of the child, and the loudness of sounds coming from behind the child is reduced. It can help the hearing aid user hear and understand speech that is coming from the front.
This can be helpful when listening in noise, but there can be problems when directional microphones are used with young children. These include:
The child's audiologist can help parents understand what situations are good and bad for using directional microphones.
Many digital hearing aids can keep more than one listening program stored in the hearing aid.
Multiple programs let the hearing aid or the user choose different microphone or hearing aid settings by using a remote control or program button on the hearing aid.
The parents can help the audiologist decide which hearing aid setting provides the best audibility for their child. When using multiple programs, parents need to be in control of the program settings and need to know when to change programs. Parents should work with the audiologist to understand how to use multiple programs.