rhlll (rhlll) wrote in hearingaidhacks,

Challenges at workplace... and bit about me

After high school, I undertook higher education learning in my second language. I had problems hearing and learning to pronounce certain word (but, to be honest, it's the case in my first language). The thing that helped me the most, and I am not just talking about the immediate effect on learning language, was prononciation classes. In the begining, it was meant to be a single class in an course dedicated for English as a second language student... given to a rather small class. We started 4, and I ended up alone with the teacher few weeks after the first class. I realized that the particular class on prononciation was crucial for me, so did the teacher, so he changed the content of the class to concentrate on that subject. I still had trouble to understand subtilities in prononciation, but the teacher helped me overcome them by showing me pictures of the anatomy of the month (ex: to see where the tongue is placed). The class almost acted as a therapy, and after I could distinguish words better in a sentence.

I can hear well (still have to concentrate a lot) at frequencies 500 to 2000 Hz.  I will hear 80% of what  a person will say, and 15% of another... but it will radically drop if other people talking in the room or if there is noise (even low). I had hearing aids a few years ago, but they weren't so helpful. I had a student pair taking note for me during my studies, but now I am working and find it harder. I am an analyst programmer, mostly working with men, so it often fall outside my comfort zone (if I could call it like that). I get a strange look from some people when I say I'm deaf, as I can talk to them without hearing aids... and they would blame my lack of concentration for moment where I fail to hear what they say.

I got an evaluation done few months ago to get new hearing aids, and new technologies might give some hope. So, from the thousands of models available... we end up with 2 (it would be slightly more, if I didn't plan on buying a FM system): Naida V and IX. I just started working and paying my debts, so it's a bit challenging for me to come with 5000-7500$ for the aid. I tried asking foundations for money, but it didn't really give result... so I am finally going to get a loan.

I realized, it's too much stress to endure on a daily basis, not to hear anything in a conference, not to hear few people, having to ask assistance to take a phone call... when the solution might already exists. I feel a bit left with myself at moments, so I asked for an appointment in a readaptation center(in few weeks), to get professionnel advices for my workplace. The company I work for offered to pay for a new  phone, but even that was proven to be complicated (I didn't know exactly what to ask, and was getting conflicting information from the internet). The client uses IP phones from Cisco...and Cisco doesn't talk to individual. I am responsible for finding the specifications for the phone I need, and wasn't able to find  a clear answer from the web. I have finally been able to convince them to talk to me, even if this wasn't for a large purchase. I am consultant, so I have to get the phones approuved, before asking the firm I work for pay for the phone. The problem is the time elapsed between each step I took... it took 3 months for the client to answer that they would not provide the phone, that the consultation firm would have to pay. I hesitated between asking for a phone or simply an adaptor(Jabra). I saw many negative comments for the adapter, and I don't have that much time to lose (and my company won't pay twice). If other have comments on that or on Naida V and IX... it would be really welcomed.

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October 11 2012, 20:49:45 UTC 4 years ago Edited:  October 11 2012, 20:51:00 UTC

Howdy there.

I wear Naida V's in both ears. I find I have my best phone convos via a custom modified bluetooth headphone/set.

I documented creating these 4.5 years ago (whoa!)
And another never finished writeup here

I'm on my second pair (the first pair had one side go bad that I've never fully diagnosed... but it lasted 3 years...); They're plenty durable and satisfying...

If bluetooth is an option with these conference phones, and you have an interest in this approach, I'd be glad to help.

On another note, I am curious: Were the pronunciation classes for helping you hear differences in pronunciation better, or were they to help you enunciate your own spoken words better? (Or, I suppose, a mix of both)

Thanks a lot for your answer. Really smart idea from your part to craft that headset. I may try to do something like that if I find the time, but ask for a phone with a bluetooth connection at my workplace. We have to ask the client for anything we wish to put on the network, or on their equipment. I gave them a list of model numbers I got from Cisco, I read from some forum that the microphone needs to be further adjusted (or it applifies every noise around) in some models. I hope it goes smootly for the configuration and intallation, I don't really have the option to call Cisco's customer service. I couldn't really talk with my old hearing aids on the phone, so I just took them off... kinda defeat he purpose.

I have problems with high and low frequencies, so sound modulation is highly affected. I lost my hearing after a chemotherapy overdose, and the inner hear got seriously damaged (my CT scan says I can't walk, but I say otherwise).

For the pronunciation class, it really help with enunciation as I was expecting. What I was not expecting, is how it would help me hear better. After I took pronunciation classes, I started being able to do things I could barely do before... hearing a word I didn't know in the middle of a sentence. Before, I had to have somebody write down the word for me, so I could check it out. If I heard it in a sentence, it's like I could not cut it from the rest of the syllables of the sentence. I often have to guess what people really say. My brain plays tricks on me sometimes, there's times I am sure I heard a certain word, but that wasn't the word being said at all.
Which country are you located in? I'm in the USA and was able to get my hearing aids (Naida IX, by the way) covered by Vocational Rehabilitation; they help people get what they need in order to get/keep employment. While I (like you) can tough it out without hearing aids by compensating with concentration, it's draining; it's the magnitude of my hearing loss, not the level of ability I had to cope with it, that made me eligible. (And as a grad student, I really could not have afforded them on my own.)

I'm liking my aids so far, though I don't do phone convos very much and so can't speak to that side of things. If you can manage it, I would get the iCom (so you can pair with Bluetooth devices) -- and again, if you can manage it, the FM set with a wireless external microphone (SmartLink, which is ridiculous expensive). I'm still awkward about asking people to use the SmartLink, so I'll often put it down on the table in omni mode and use it as a table mic -- but good lord, it cuts through background noise (also the bane of my existence for speech understanding). I'm an engineer and worked almost entirely with programmers in my pre-grad-school life, and find the geeks pretty cool about "ooh, another piece of technology to use!" so it's not been an issue for me (yet, I've only had my aids for 5 months).

Also depending on the country you're in, there may be workplace laws that require your company provide accomodations for you -- and there are phone call solutions that don't go the audio route. I was never a huge user of relay services because they add an awkward delay and I can talk for myself just fine, but there's a slightly better (though very much not perfect) solution now: CapTel. They make phones with a screen where the other person's conversation is transcribed, and then you just talk normally back -- much shorter delay since the transcription is only one way, and (I believe) mostly automatic. Maybe your company would pay for one of those? I'm a cheap grad student, so I use their free Android app when I need to make phone calls to someone I don't know well.

Also, phonology (the stuff you learned about speech) is a wonderful, wonderful thing. You might want to consider doing a few sessions of speech again once you get your hearing aids; there'll be new sounds you'll need to associate with syllables/words (for instance, I was confused by the sudden appearance of what eventually turned out to be the "sh" sound, and am still learning to differentiate it from the also-new "ch.") A real-time spectrogram might be useful for feedback; there's a free Android app called "AndroSpectro" (hat tip to Grant for pointing me to this) but it's pretty low-res, and a speech pathologist might have a better gadget in their office if you find one.

If you live near a university with an audiology and/or speech pathology program, try their student clinic -- that's what I'm doing. Excellent, excellent treatment -- the clinicial supervisors are top-notch -- and the presence of the students means that you can ask lots and lots of questions and it'll actually be welcomed. Plus: super-cheap.

Hope this helps -- keep us posted, please! And good luck.
Oh, and http://www.speechbuddy.com/blog/hearing-loss/paying-for-hearing-aids/ may have some useful resources -- though it sounds like you've tried these already.
I live in Canada. I cannot have [provincial] health benifit coverage for the hearing aids, as I do not respond their selection criterion. They only take in consideration the hearing loss at 500, 1000 and 2000 Hz. They pay for standard hearing aids of people having more than a 20 dB, and for programmable hearing aids of people having more than a loss of 35 dB... and then you have to choose in a pre-selected range (re-evaluated every 4 years).

I will see an ORL on October 22, to get a prescription for a rehabilitation centre. I asked for help from a fondation in late April, but I still don't have the final answer. I sure would benefit from vocational rehabilitation. I lose invaluable time at solving some problems, while are specialized in helping people like me. I finished school a few months ago, but if you count 6800$ for a pair of Naida IX and another 3700$ for the Smartlink+ system, that's a lot of money. I looked at many governmental program, but I am never in the target group for some reason. The fact that I am already working, kind of plays against me. I do not need money to get a job, I need help to help me function [more] normally at work. I am the kind of person that will deal with her own problems alone most of the times, but now I admit I need help. My employer knew from the start about my hearing problem. They will pay for a new phone [after confimation from our client]. I have a personnal insurance that will cover up to 500$ for the hearing aids, but it's far from enough. I do not know what is offered by the rehabilitation center in Quebec City for working adults. I will buy a pair of Naida V, this will hopefully buy some time 1. for the foundation to give me a final answer or/and 2. vocational rehabilitation. I can try a model up to 3 months, so hopefully I can get a solution by then. I feel a bit unsafe, but not as much as doing nothing for it. I don't wear any aids for now, I have to concentrate a lot to hear what people say...and it shows. Even if you tell me a joke, my face will look cold or I make faces without realizing. If it's noisy, I can't always hear... and I cannot always have people write things down.

I don't use phones a lot, but I don't quite have the choice at my job. My employer is helpful for that, and will pay for the phone. I could use it with the ICOM [which, my audiologist told me, comes free if I by a pair of hearing aids]. I am consultant in a governmental organization, and it's slow to have an answer to a request. I don't think I need a transcription service, but I cannot answer my phone in a noisy place.

I admit it may seem awkward to ask people to use the Smartlink, for that purpose, I planned to buy a lavalier[tie] microphone. I find that, it doesn't really seem to fit the dressing code at my job. It would feel really awkward to ask people wearing tie and jacket to put that thing around their neck. But conference, is really a nightmare for me: I will hear 75% of what a person says.. 3 words in 30 minutes from another, and nothing from the round table except when the guys immediatly on my side is talking. The last time I went to a museum, I took a guided tour given by a girl with a huge german accent. I missed 3 words in an hour, as they decided to buy FM systems to distribute to the audience. Maybe I am trying to solve too many problems at once... anyway, if I have to pay, the FM system will have to wait.

It's a good idea to take other phonology courses [maybe with the rehabilitation center] again. If my brain doesn't make sense of a sound, or worse suppress it, I'm not better. and, beside, I know it has proven to be benefic by the past, so I should dedicate some time to that. It's funny that you talk about the spectogram. I took a russian course where we used a program where I had to repeat words, trying to reproduce the same "wave". I was thinking about asking my doctor for tools like that, but didn't quite know what to ask for. I am a scientist (programmer), so I'm really inclined to using technologies, but health professionnals aren't always inclined to share these tools.
To quickly throw out a couple things that came to mind when reading this comment:

Pitch matching software is something used in music, and sounds to me, similar to what you're describing. I used this exactly once in high school choir... so perhaps inquire with a local choral music instructor. Alas, it's probably niche software, and thus not free or cheap :/

This second not is related to the bluetooth stuff above. What I neglected to mention is that the Naidas can be programmed to have a mode where they take audio input directly (from add-on 'boots' for the DAI connector style), and turn off the hearing aid's microphone. It's like those noise-cancellation headphones... It's great for music, and works great for phone conversations in non-quiet places.

Also, thank you for posting the frequency losses chart... first time I've had a chance to compare my own with someone elses! (I'm at about 35 across the spectrum, as of 3 years ago)
There was [few] developments in my case. I decided to phone the foundation, simply to ask what are the normal delays to process a financial aid request. They realized mine was lost, which but itself is quite insulting... but they have lost my income tax report containing sensitive information. I was promise the request will be process rapidly, but it won't be until their concil's next meeting in November (the director even advised me to ask other foundations). They don't quite seem to understand the effect these huge delays can have on people (more than 6 months now). They called my audiologists, only to ask plenty of financial questions about me, which I find a bit suspicious, since they didn't ask me those questions. I just found out for 63000$ of mistakes in my Equifax report, and find their behavior to be a little disturbing.
Anyway, I decided to buy the Naida V... it will give me a little more help to wait for their decision and try to do at least another financial help application. I'll get a 3 months trial, before to change for Naida IX. I finally got a prescription for the readaptation center... maybe I'll get some help there.