Phonak Roger Component Overview

by Allan Larson

After using my Resound MultiMic, I realized what a difference remote microphones could make. I wanted to use multiple microphones at once in several different situations, and found that the Phonak Roger system could do that.  I started looking into Phonak Roger and trying several different components.  I found that getting information on what was available was a little difficult, so I wanted to put a quick reference out for anyone else who may need it. The information below comes from my own research, so if you find something that is incorrect please let me know.

Phonak Roger is Not FM

Many people confuse Phonak Roger with the older FM systems, but Roger is actually completely new technology.  Older FM systems transmitted an analog signal on FM frequencies (72.025 to 75.975 MHz and 216 to 217 MHz), and only transmitted on one channel at a time making it prone to interference, range problems, and eavesdropping. Phonak Roger transmits at 2.4GHz (ISM band) using digital transmission and frequency hopping technology to decrease dead spots, improve sound quality, and secure the transmission. For more information on the Phonak Roger wireless technology, click this link.

Roger Microphones

With most of the microphones below, you can link multiple devices together, and even mix and match microphones (like a Roger Pen and 2 clip-on mics).  There are some limitations to this. For example, when you have multiple Roger Pens linked, only one can be in conference mode, and the rest can be in neck-worn mode.  When the microphones are linked, they do not all transmit at once.  The microphone that picks up speech first will transmit until it no longer hears speech.  At that point the system will switch to the next microphone that detects speech.

Roger Pen

Roger Easy PenThe Phonak Roger Pen has three different microphone operating modes. Conference mode (when laying on a table), Interview mode (when held at an angle), and neck-worn. The Roger Pen can automatically switch microphone modes based on its position, or you can manually select the mode.  In Conference mode it will pick up audio from all around.  In Interview mode the microphone will become directional and pick up the voice of whoever it is pointing at, while blocking out noise from around the pen.  In neck-worn mode it will become highly directional with a shorter pick-up range in order to just pick up whoever is talking directly above it. The Roger pen also has Bluetooth connectivity for connecting to cellular phones and other Bluetooth devices.  Using an included cable, you can also connect the Roger Pen to other audio sources like a TV or headphone jack on a computer.

Roger EasyPen

Roger Easy PenThe Roger EasyPen has the same three microphone modes as the Roger Pen.  With the Roger EasyPen you cannot manually select the microphone modes, and it does not have Bluetooth.  Like the RogerPen, the Roger EasyPen can be connected to an audio source using a cable.

Roger Clip-On Mic

Roger Clip-on MicThe roger clip-on mic is made to be worn clipped to a shirt or lanyard.  It picks up speech from directly above it.  The Clip-On Mic can also be used to stream audio from another source using the included cable.

 

 

Roger Table Mic

Roger Table Mic.pngThe Roger Table Mic is specifically designed to be used in meetings.  It picks up audio from all around while filtering out background noise like projector fans, coughs, etc…  For large meetings (15+) people, you can use multiple Table Mics to pick up sound from all around the room.  The Table Mic can also be connected to other audio sources, and has a remote control that can be used to mute/un-mute the microphone.

Roger Touchscreen Mic and Roger Pass-around

Roger Touchscreen Mic Pass-aroundThe Roger Touchscreen Mic and Roger Pass-around are geared for educational use.  The Roger Touchscreen Mic is worn by a teacher and the Pass-around is passed to other students to allow them to talk on the system as well. Multiple Touchscreen Mics and Pass-arounds can be used together in a network.  The Touchscreen Mic and Pass-around only work with the newer Roger receivers, they are not backwards compatible to older FM systems.

Roger Inspiro and Roger DynaMic

Roger Inspiro Pass-around.pngThe Roger Inspiro and Roger DynaMic are also geared toward educational use and have similar functionality as the Roger Touchscreen Mic and Roger Pass-around.  The Inspiro and DynaMic will work with Phonak Roger and older FM systems.

Roger Receivers

The Phonak Roger system has several different receivers that enable the system to be used with almost any hearing aid, Bone Anchored Hearing Aid (BAHA), or cochlear implant.

Roger design-integrated receivers

The design integrated receivers are made to blend in with the design of Phonak hearing aids as well as some Cochlear implants from Cochlear and Advanced Bionics.  The design integrated receivers will work with the full line of Roger microphones including the Touchscreen Mic and Inspiro.

Roger X

The Roger X receiver uses a Direct Audio Input connection (DAI, a.k.a Europlug) and can be used on many hearing aids (with a DAI boot), cochlear implants, and neck-worn streamers such as the Phonak ComPilot.  The Roger X comes in two different versions.  One is a lower cost type 3 (03) that works with the Roger Pen, EasyPen, Clip-On Mic, and Table Mic.  The other is the type 2 (02) which costs a little more, but adds support for the educational based mics (TouchScreen and Inspiro), as well as some settings that can be made using the Inspiro, and compatibility with more Roger devices. For more information on the differences between the 02 and 03 Roger X receivers, click this link.

Roger MyLink

The Roger MyLink is a neck-worn streamer that works with hearing aids that contain a TeleCoil (T-Coil).  The Mylink also has a standard 3.5mm headphone jack that allows it to be plugged in to other devices like sound systems, or hearing aid streamers with a 3.5mm input.

Roger Focus

The Roger Focus is a behind-the-ear receiver made for people with normal hearing, but that have attention related issues.  It is intended to limit distractions by bringing the teacher’s voice directly in to the persons ear to help with focus and understanding.  The Roger Focus is not a hearing aid, it is simply a receiver for Roger microphones.

About the Author

Allan LarsonI have been a hearing aid user for over 20 years, since receiving my first aid at age 20. As my hearing loss has progressed, I’ve come to rely on various Assistive Listening Devices. My career in IT requires many fast paced meetings. Without remote mics I wouldn’t be able to keep up and contribute. In January of 2018 I was approved for a cochlear implant, and look forward to the next phase of my journey. I hope to not need wireless microphones once I get adjusted to hearing with a CI, but it’s nice to have them available if needed.

Allan lives in Illinois with his wife and 4 kids.

Naída Link CROS Review

By Deb McClendon Deitz

Advanced Bionics Naida Link CROS

The Naída Link CROS is a wireless behind-the-ear microphone you can pair with your Advanced Bionics Naída Q90 or Q70 sound processor. You wear the CROS in a similar way to how you would wear a very small behind-the-ear hearing aid. You wear it on the non-CI ear. It comes with a small earhook, and also a plastic tube that that can anchor the CROS in the ear canal if desired.

After trying the plastic tubing to secure the CROS, I decided it would be more comfortable to wear it with a small piece of double-sided toupee tape. I am not used to having anything that small behind my ear and could see myself knocking it off easily. I am also not used to having anything in my ear canal. The toupee tape can be purchased on Amazon or at a local beauty supply store. Just cut a small piece, put it on the CROS on the side you want to stick to your skin.

The CROS is also backwards compatible with the previous generation processor, the Naída Q70. It uses a single size 13 disposable hearing aid battery. The battery lasts about 4 days for me on average. Advanced Bionics recommends PowerOne size 13 batteries, and estimates 3-5 days of life.  My 4-day battery life is right on target!

Batteries are available in local pharmacies as well as on line. The Naída Link CROS does not beep when the battery dies. At first, I didn’t necessarily notice when the battery died. After a couple of weeks, I would notice that something was missing and then discover that the CROS battery needed to be replaced.

The CROS doesn’t have a T-mic, but it does have two mics that work wirelessly to complement your programs on the CI side. Everything you do on the CI side is duplicated on the CROS side. It’s automatic and very seamless. You power it on and off by opening and closing the battery case. There aren’t any buttons to press, so it is simple and easy to use. Once you close the battery case, the power is on. When you put it on your ear, it automatically pairs to your cochlear implant processor. There is a mute button you can press that will turn off the CROS.

Who can use it?

  • Current single-sided AB Naída CI Q90 or Q70 users with no benefit from hearing in the opposite ear
  • Cochlear implant candidates with no benefit from hearing aids in either ear, who will receive only one implant

The audiologist pairs the Naída Link CROS to your cochlear implant processor. All you need to do is install a size 13 battery and put it on your ear. Everything is controlled by the Naída CI Q90 or Q70 processor. Change programs or volume with the buttons on the processor, the AB MyPilot, or the ComPilot, and the Naída Link CROS follows in lock step.

The UltraZoom program on my Naída CI Q90 works beautifully with the CROS! It’s super nice in restaurants and loud places knowing that I can hear from both sides and am zoomed in to the max to the person in front of me. I feel more relaxed and no longer need to sit and position myself with my better ear facing people talking. I can pick up the conversation on both sides equally!

StereoZoom is another program that uses sound from both devices to make a super-tight focus directly in front of you. This is probably best for extremely noisy situations, even noisier UltraZoom can handle.  I don’t have StereoZoom as one of my options, but I will be sure to ask the audiologist for it next time!

Because the Naída Link CROS always streams sound from one side to the other, there are no separate DuoPhone or ZoomControl programs.

Real-Life Impressions

Listening to music with the CROS is interesting for sure! It’s not quite “bilateral” or stereo, but it’s nice to feel that the music is coming from all directions rather than just one side. Music coming in from all sides is more satisfying in a surround sound type of way.

I am very fortunate to have great music with my CI, so that is carrying over to the right ear now with the CROS.

The CROS is SUPER lightweight! I have to remember to remove it when I take off my CI. I cannot feel it on my right ear at all.

I first tried the CROS in the audiologist’s office. An Advanced Bionics Clinical Specialist and one of the AB research audiologists were spending the day at my clinic. My audiologist sat on my non-CI side first. We did a little experiment with my hearing using only the CI on my left side. Naturally as expected, given the “head shadow effect,” her voice came in softer when she was on my right. I could understand her, but I wanted to turn my head to hear her better.

Then she put the CROS on me, sat in the same chair, and started talking. I was stunned! She came in loud and clear, as well as if she had been sitting on my CI side.

Next, I was tested in noise. The audiologist played speech babble over speakers in the room. She started talking again on the CROS side and I was able to carry on a normal conversation without looking at her or leaning over to get closer.

The AB Clinical Specialist asked if it seemed strange to hear on the right side but have it processed by the left CI. I had to think about it, and it didn’t seem at all strange. I felt balanced and I also felt I was hearing on both sides as I should be hearing. There is less stress hearing on both sides. I felt more relaxed with two ears picking up sounds!

My cochlear implant situation is a little different than most people who may be interested in the CROS. I do have a working CI on the right side. However, due to damage in my cochlea from a 1985 CI, I am missing some important speech frequencies. The right side only gives me bass sounds. That’s all great for music, but not for everyday listening.

Listening to music with the CROS is interesting. Music sounds the same – it is, after all, being controlled by my usual CI programs. I have very very good music with my left CI and am super grateful to Advanced Bionics for giving me the extra pitches that bring out the melodies and harmonies. With the CROS, I was picking up the SAME good music I have on both sides. It was double the pleasure for sure!

I do have the option of wearing both of my cochlear implant processors when listening to music, and that does have an additive bass effect. However, the binaural CROS option gives me a nice sound quality, so I am going to have to listen to a lot more music before I can decide which I prefer.

In listening around the house and at a restaurant, it is so easy to hear sounds from both sides. It’s definitely more relaxing, less work, and much more natural when things come from both sides.

I don’t know if insurance will pay for the CROS – it’s supposed to be an option for new AB users in the processor kit. Each clinic is going to set their own price for the CROS. My price will be different than yours.

Bilateral cochlear implants are probably a better solution if that is an option. If you have a CI on only one side, or if you are like me and one of your bilateral implants doesn’t do particularly well, you may want to consider a Naída Link CROS!

About the author

Deb Deitz.jpg

I have been an AB CI user for over 15 years. I lost my hearing at age 17, when I just woke up deaf one morning! This was 1971 and there were no CI’s back then. I lived my life in silence with lipreading. In 1985 I had an experimental CI put in my right ear. Only 16 of them were ever implanted. Mine failed after about 6 months. It was an interesting experience, but they had nothing to replace it with, so I spent another 14 years in silence after having to stop wearing it.

In 2002 I decided to give CI’s another shot. After a huge amount of research, I chose Advanced Bionics, and it’s been the best decision I could have made. I was actually able to talk on the phone again two weeks after activation!

It’s been an amazing 15 years being able to hear again. I am grateful to AB for always giving me new programs, new processors and innovative ideas to improve my life. The CROS is going to make a quality of life difference for me. I am grateful!

Time it Right! When Should I Get a Cochlear Implant?

ExploreTime cover.PNG

MED-EL has launched the latest issue of its flagship EXPLOREMAGAZINE, which aims to raise awareness about the importance of hearing loss through inspiring and extraordinary stories. In this edition, called EXPLORETIME, readers will discover the crucial role that time plays in our lives, and how it affects our decisions and structures our day. This is a great, FREE resource for hearing health professionals, parents and CI recipients.

One of the most interesting articles is about deciding when is the best time to get an implant for you or a family member.  Time It Right discusses considerations for babies, older children, and adults about the affects cochlear implants can have on quality of life at various stages.

The entire EXPLORETIME issue is available for your reading pleasure.

Cochlear Kanso Review

My Kanso Story

by Roger Smith

Hearing loss is something I’ve dealt with for over 40 years. I was first diagnosed at age five and my hearing declined for the next 20 odd years. Choosing the right hearing aid and ultimately the right cochlear implant can be a challenge. Lucky for me, my brother, four years older, has the same history of hearing loss, and I usually had him to rely on for feedback about new technology or functionality. Now, I’m in a position to provide some insights into the new Kanso Sound Processor from Cochlear!

A little bit about myself, I work for Cochlear in Sydney and help develop and market new processors and accessories. I love my job because I get to work with and learn from our customers and help make sure the new products best meet our customer needs. I’m doing this for me, my brother, my son and all of you, and I truly love it.

In my role, I had the opportunity to be part of first clinical trial for Kanso, where I tested the device for more than six months in Sydney, Australia.

One thing we’ve learned over the years is that everyone is different and what is best for one person might not be best for another.

Kanso has been developed for people who are looking for a sound processor that is discreet, smart and simple.

Kanso is for people who might be a bit self-conscious about wearing a processor, who want something to ‘set and forget,’ or who just don’t want anything on their ear, all while still receiving great hearing performance.

So here’s what I can tell you from my experience about hearing performance with Kanso.

As a recipient and customer myself, I really focus on hearing performance. I want to be able to hear my best in every situation. Whether it’s social or at work, I don’t want to miss out on anything.

So when I was asked to trial Kanso, I must admit, I was a little sceptical. Would this new processor allow me to hear as well as with my Nucleus 6® Sound Processor? I put it to the test.

I went to the noisy café and the windy beach, I listened to music and watched TV, attended lectures and conferences, and in every situation I switched back and forth between Nucleus 6 and Kanso.

I can honestly say I could not tell the difference. I felt like with Kanso I was hearing just as well as with Nucleus 6 and maybe, more importantly, my family couldn’t tell the difference either. My wife, who’s able to tell better than me when it’s time to change my microphone covers, didn’t even notice I had a new processor for three weeks!

Kanso has the same performance technology as Nucleus 6 (SmartSound® iQ), which includes SCAN*. SCAN is an automatic environment classifier that constantly scans the environment you’re in and changes the processor settings to make sure you’re in the right setting at the right time. It’s all I ever use with Nucleus 6 or Kanso.

Kanso also offers all the same True Wireless connectivity options as the Nucleus 6, which is very important to me. I use my Phone Clip, Mini Microphone and TV Streamer on an almost daily basis. Being able to stream directly to my processor in certain situations is a huge advantage for people with Cochlear implants.

I feel sometimes like I’ve gone from being the person in the room with a disadvantage to being the only one in the room with a real advantage.

* SNR-WR, WNR and SCAN are approved for use with any recipient ages 6 years and older, who is able to: 1) complete objective speech perception testing in quiet and in noise in order to determine and document performance: and 2) report a preference for different program settings.

What is Kanso?

Kanso is an integrated sound processor for a cochlear implant that has the processing unit (read: brains of the computer), the battery, and the coil all in one unit.  

The Kanso processor

The Kanso processor

It must be worn directly over the implant, so there are no cables to fiddle with and no earhook as it sits behind or above the ear.

To break it down further:

Processing Unit

This is the part that does the hard work. It gathers the sound through the dual microphones and processes the input, filtering out background noise and sounds that you don’t want to hear based on your situation. Kanso comes with the same industry leading sound processing capabilities as the Nucleus® 6 processor with SmartSound™ iQ.

Kanso also has SCAN* technology, which means the processor can analyze the environment you’re in and put your processor in the right program, no matter what the situation.

Processor Button

Kanso has only one button to control functionality of the processor. This was done to simplify the user interface and make it even easier to use. You can control on/off, programs and streaming accessories with this one button. For those who want even more control, Kanso is compatible with the Cochlear Remote Control and Remote Assistant.

Microphones

The microphones are where the sound comes into the processing unit. Kanso has two microphones. This is very important for background noise management because the processor can analyze the sound from the two microphones and determine which sounds came from behind. This ‘beamforming’ means you can hear better in noisy situations.

Coil

The coil is the part that communicates with the internal implant. It sends the ‘sound’ to the implant. Kanso has the coil built in so there is no coil cable to deal with.

Batteries

You use Kanso with zinc-air disposable batteries. Rechargeable batteries would mean a bigger and heavier processor, which is not something customers wanted. With two zinc-air batteries, Kanso is designed to deliver the same battery life as Nucleus 6.

Accessories

Kanso comes with retention accessories like the nearly invisible safety line for everyday use and the headband for more vigorous activities.

True Wireless

Kanso is fully compatible with the Cochlear True Wireless™ devices – Mini Microphones, Phone Clip and TV Streamer – so you get even greater performance in challenging situations and the convenience of no wires.

Real Life Experience

By now you’re probably thinking ‘great, so you can hear well but how well does it stay on? Is it really discreet? What about swimming and sports?’

Here’s how I answer these questions after six months of experience with Kanso:

What’s retention really like? Does it fall off?

Straight away, people ask me about the retention of Kanso. Does it fall off? No. I’ve never had a situation where the Kanso just fell off my head.

I use the same magnet strength (2) as with my behind-the-ear (BTE) sound processor and didn’t have any problems with Kanso falling off.

Did I accidentally knock it off? Yes. I had to break a few habits. With a BTE, if I had an itch, I could just flick the coil off and scratch and the BTE would keep everything on my ear. With Kanso, I had to remember to hold the processor while I scratched. This took me a week or two to change.

I also had to be a bit more careful changing a shirt or putting on a hat, but this was not a big deal to me. When wearing a hat, I did have to loosen the band a bit, but it didn’t seem to impact my hearing when I had the hat on.

Kanso comes with a clear safety line (like a fishing line) that you can attach to your hair with a clip or another, longer line that you can clip to your shirt. I used the short one in my hair, and I must say I was really hesitant to wear a hair clip, but it was pretty much invisible and surprisingly easy to use. Clip it in in the morning and pop it off at night – too easy!

Kanso with Safety Line and Clip

Kanso with Safety Line and Clip

How’s the battery life?

Battery life with two disposable zinc air batteries was the same for me (around 62 hours because I’m a low power user).

How simple is Kanso to use?

As simple as I found my Nucleus 6 to be, Kanso was just a little bit simpler. I use a hearing aid mould with my BTE for retention, and with Kanso, I didn’t have to spend a few seconds each day putting the earmould in and positioning the coil. And having only one button and SCAN* means Kanso is truly a ‘set and forget’ processor.

Can I use Kanso in water?

Kanso comes with a waterproof accessory that covers the processor and allows you to swim, snorkel, exercise and more.

Aqua+ with Kanso inside

Aqua+ with Kanso inside

I found the hearing performance when using the Aqua+ to be slightly less, but I could still understand, communicate and have fun with my kids and hear safety alarms or whistles.

If you’re doing anything besides just relaxing in the water, you’ll need to use something to keep the Kanso in the Aqua+ on your head. I used a neoprene swim cap (Nammu), but there are lots of options out there, and the Aqua+ has notches for goggle straps if you prefer that. A small price to be able to hear in the water!

How discreet is Kanso?

I’m not really too worried about people seeing my processor since I’ve been wearing something on my ears for 35 years. But if I was concerned about it, Kanso would be perfect for me. I have shorter style hair and Kanso is nearly invisible when I put it on.

Kanso with safety line attached

Kanso with safety line attached

Can I wear a hat or helmet?

As with any implant and processor combination, implant location on your head plays a role in how well (or not) hats and helmets fit. My implant is located just above and behind my ear – right on the ‘hat line.’ I find that I can still wear my hats and my bike helmet but with the hats, I need to loosen a little bit or there is a little too much pressure. This only bothers me in the wind as a loose hat comes off easier.

Is Kanso right for me?

This is the one question I can’t answer. Only you and your hearing health professional(s) can decide what is best for you

Personally, I would be very happy with either Kanso or Nucleus 6. I’m not worried about discretion, and I get great hearing performance and connectivity with both.

Kanso and Nucleus 6

Here is a comparison summary of Nucleus 6 and Kanso:

Both:

  • 2 microphones and SmartSound iQ and SCAN
  • True Wireless compatible
  • Aqua+ for complete waterproofing
  • Dust and splash proof
  • CR230 Remote Assistant and CR210 Remote control compatible

Nucleus 6:

  • Offers Hybrid™ Hearing with acoustic component attached
  • Can use disposable or rechargeable batteries
  • Telecoil optimised for phone use
  • Compatible with all Nucleus implant types

Kanso:

  • No acoustic component
  • Disposable batteries only
  • Nothing on the ear
  • Telecoil optimised for room loops

Some considerations when choosing between Nucleus 6 and Kanso:

  • Since Kanso is not worn on the ear, people with glasses might find Kanso works better, especially if you have thick temple pieces on your glasses.
  • While both processors are compatible with the Phone Clip, the Nucleus 6 processor telecoil is optimised for phone use. I used Kanso with the mics alone on the phone for quick conversations with family and friends but much preferred the Phone Clip for long calls or calls for work.
  • Consider battery type and how important that is to you.
  • If you wear hats a lot, consider taking one to your audiologist appointment to try on with Kanso because it slightly thicker than the Nucleus 6 coil. While I could still wear hats, I needed to adjust them slightly

Talk with your  hearing health professional and be honest about what you hope to achieve with your processor. I hope hearing about my experience has proven helpful if you’re thinking about Kanso. Good luck with your hearing journey!

Kanso User Guide

About the Author

roger-head-shotRoger Smith, MSPT has been working in the field of healthcare for over 18 years. He is currently a Global Product Manager with Cochlear Ltd., spending the past 5 years in Sound Processors and Connectivity. As an employee and an active volunteer, Roger draws on his unique experience as a cochlear implant recipient to help improve the lives of those with hearing loss.

Ditto Vibrating Alarm and Notification Device

by Howard Samuels

ditto-wearable

Read this review to receive a discount code on Ditto!

Ditto is a small device that vibrates to provide you with alerts from your phone. It is focused on that one task, eschewing the feature creep that plagues so many consumer products.

From the manufacturer:

We created Ditto as a kind of anti-gadget – something to free people from worrying about their smartphones and to be more present in life. Ditto is tiny and elegant. No buttons, switches, lights displays, or cables. Less is more.

Ditto vibrates when you get an incoming phone call, a text, an email, or a notification from a large and growing portfolio of third-party apps.  You don’t have to be inundated with constant vibrations, however.  You can choose which apps will cause the Ditto to vibrate, and you can also select important people from your list of contacts, or allow alerts from anybody.

Straying ever so slightly from the ‘simple is better’ mantra, Ditto can also alert you when you are far away from your phone.  This is helpful if you are prone to leaving your phone behind – Ditto will vibrate before you get too far away. The distance varies, but it is basically the range of the Bluetooth connection.

For cochlear implant HELP readers, perhaps the most important function is Ditto’s ability to vibrate at a preset time – it’s an alarm clock!  Rather than large and expensive bed shakers or flashing lights, you can clip Ditto to your sleepwear, or wear it on the included wristband.  My preference is to use the wristband because I can leave it on all day and all night. Ditto is waterproof, so you can wear it in the shower.  The included thin and durable neoprene wristband looks great, but it does tend to stay wet for quite a while. And because it vibrates on your wrist, it won’t wake up your partner.

ditto-alarm-set

To set an alarm, go to the Alarm screen, choose one of the alarms to set, and set the time of day.  You can assign a name to the alarm to be displayed on your phone when the alarm occurs.  This can be helpful if you have set several different alarms and need to know which one is begging for your attention. The alarm can be set to vibrate its pattern one time, or it can repeat every two minutes for ten minutes, or until you turn it off.

Once an alarm has rung, it stays off unless you enable it again in the Ditto app.  A recurrence feature would be helpful, so that you could set the alarm to wake you on the days you work each week without having to remember to set the alarm each night.

The Ditto web site has some short instructional videos to show you how to set up Ditto, attach it to the wristband, change the batteries, etc.  The videos are available from within the Ditto app as well.

Ditto uses a single CR1632 button cell disposable battery, which lasts 3-6 months.  When the battery gets low, you receive a notification to change the battery soon. The CR1632 battery generally isn’t sold in local pharmacies, but it is readily available from Amazon and other online sources.

Ditto is far more convenient and portable than traditional alarms targeted at the deaf and hard of hearing market.  Because it is a high-volume consumer product, it costs much less than dedicated wakeup systems.  And its main purpose of notifying you when you receive phone calls, texts, etc, is very useful. Ditto is a cost-effective alternative to a smart watch if the only goal is to receive notifications from your phone. Two additional features would make it a perfect fit – recurring alarms, and a wristband that dries more quickly.

Cochlear implant HELP reader can enjoy a 20% discount until October 31st, 2016, by using discount code cochlear20!

Two Ditto devices were provided by Simple Matters for the purpose of this review.

Choosing a Cochlear Implant that Works with a Hearing Aid

By Jessica Lewis

The journey to begin the process of cochlear implantation is an exciting prospect. When your audiologist tells you there may be hope to regain hearing and comprehension, the potential seem limitless. Amongst the excitement and new possibilities, the process of cochlear implantation can be overwhelming, and it’s not a decision to be made overnight.

My first step after making the decision to move forward with implantation was to learn about how cochlear implants work – not a deep technical perspective, just an overview such as can be found in the videos on the manufacturer’s web sites.  In particular, I was interested in understanding the differences between cochlear implants and hearing aids.   

When I began my cochlear implant journey last year, I had to choose which implant and company I would partner with for life. And they all promised better-than-ever features over the others. I was told by my audiologist all the general bells and whistles of the different implants, but ultimately she just handed me big packets of information on the three brands: MED-EL, Advanced Bionics, and Cochlear and said, “it’s up to you!”

The first step to any decision is to research every possible outcome. Brand packets in hand, I meticulously combed through each one hoping to have one company stand out over the other. But unfortunately, all three brands look like they offer similar implants, with very small distinctions between them. This was where I decided to hit the pavement and go straight to the sources. My audiologist was kind enough to get me in contact with representatives and implant recipients for Advanced Bionics, Cochlear, and MED-EL. I set up meetings over coffee, chatted via email, and took voluminous notes throughout the process. I truly felt this made my decision easier, as I was able to discuss and listen to first hand experiences: the good, the bad, and the ugly.

I qualified for a cochlear implant in both ears, but I decided to only implant one for now as I can still use a hearing aid in the other ear. Many cochlear implant recipients are bimodal, meaning that they use one cochlear implant and one hearing aid.

While you can use any hearing aid with a cochlear implant, they really are different devices, and process sounds differently.  Successful bimodal users learn to adapt to the different inputs to each ear.

Sister companies Advanced Bionics and Phonak recently introduced the Naída bimodal hearing solution, consisting of a cochlear implant with a Naída CI Q90 processor, and a Naída Link hearing aid.  The sound processing technology is the same for both instruments.  And the volume behavior (the way the loudness is adjusted automatically) is also the same. My hope is that this will make the transition to becoming a bimodal user as effortless as possible, and that it will provide me with the best bimodal hearing experience.

One nice feature available now is that when you change program or volume by pressing buttons on either instrument, both instruments respond, and you can hear the beeps in both ears.  Also, you can stream sounds to both instruments using a ComPilot or a Roger Pen.  

Some new features are coming soon that will make the Naída Link system even more integrated.  I look forward to programs such as DuoPhone, where you hold the phone up to one ear, and the sound is streamed wirelessly to the other, so you hear it in both ears!  And StereoZoom uses the mics on the two instruments together to make a super-tight focus directly in front of you – perfect for noisy restaurants!

Needless to say, I made the decision to go with Advanced Bionics because of all the features for bimodal users like me.

Naida bimodal

With both the Link and implant,  I am able to hear sounds that I haven’t heard since my hearing loss began (including my cat’s incessant meowing which I’m not sure I missed…). I’m able to capture wonderfully clear sounds and speech with just the implant itself, but the addition of the Link adds such a richer sound to my surroundings, adding a more natural tone. I can carry on conversations in restaurants with ease, hear my boyfriend calling me from another room, and even talk on the phone with the T-mic or my Roger pen streaming into both ears. It’s astounding how clear I am able localize sounds through these intelligent and cohesive devices; two ears are definitely better than one!

Going forward, I can’t wait to see what additional features Advanced Bionics and Phonak will offer bimodal users.

About the Author

Jessica LewisJessica Lewis is a twenty-two-year-old recently hired pediatric oncology RN. Her hearing loss started in 2014 warranting the use of bilateral hearing aids until becoming a cochlear implant recipient in 2015. She was implanted June 30th, 2016 and activated on July 14th, 2016 and received her Naida Link a week later. She currently resides in Jacksonville, Florida where she hopes to not only change the lives of her pediatric patients but also advocate for the deaf/hard-of-hearing community she so closely relates with. She strives to pave the way for awareness and recognition of this community in introducing new technology and communication techniques through her experiences both medically and professionally.

 

Applying for Social Security Benefits

Deanna Power

Deanna Power, Community Outreach Manager for Social Security Disability Help , has contributed a page to help you learn about Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) in the United States.  Find out if you qualify at Applying for Social Security Benefits.