In recent years, technology advancements that assist the deaf and hard-of-hearing have reached new heights with a new pediatric hearing test. These advancements are making it much easier for the deaf and hard-of-hearing to communicate and process what is going on around them.
A relatively common device for the deaf and hard-of-hearing that has been popular over the years are FM systems with a transmitter that transmits radio waves. Now, these systems are not the same as a radio that someone would listen to music on, but they are used by deaf individuals that use hearing aids to help them hear from further distances.
For example, children who use an FM system at school would be able to pick up the teacher’s voice and transmit it directly into their hearing aid. Thanks to technology advancements, students no longer have to worry about carrying the bulky radio around with them or feeling uncomfortable about their peers seeing it. The Phonak Roger Pen is a new tool that takes the function of the inconvenient radio and turns it into a discrete and easy to carry pen. The pen was created to help students of all ages be able to better hear their teacher by transmitting the sound directly to their hearing aid, similar to the FM system. This device is much easier for people to carry on their person and have out on a table or desk because it looks similar to other pens.
The Versatile Extra-Sensory Transducer (VEST) is still in the development stage, but once it is available to the public it will be a huge help to the deaf and hard-of-hearing. The VEST is exactly that — a vest that people can wear to help them hear what is going on around them. The brains behind the VEST, neuroscientist David Eagleman and his team of students from Rice University have come up with a truly unique solution to help deaf people hear through a series of vibrations. Eagleton says it allows the wearer to “feel” speech with the help of an app on a smartphone or tablet. The smart device’s microphone picks up sounds and sends them via Bluetooth to the vest. What happens next is the vest works its magic to “translate” those sounds into a series of vibrations that reflect the frequencies picked up by the mic. Think of it this way, if you spoke to someone wearing a VEST, they would “feel” what you were saying by vibrations the VEST was sending them.
This concept is a lot to wrap your head around so we encourage you to take a look at the Atlantic article that goes into more detail on how the VEST works. Although VEST technology is still in the early stages, the idea that this type of tool will soon be available is an exciting advancement in the technology world.
With all of these great technological devices, the deaf and hard-of-hearing can be more comfortable while interacting with hearing individuals. If you know of other great technology advancements, please share them with us in the comments below!