Listening to someone who is seated next to you in a silent room is not the same as following a lively conversation around a busy restaurant table. Most digital hearing aids can adapt to different conditions like these by using a range of “listening programs”. These listening programs give your hearing aid the flexibility to help you hear at your best in a wide range of situations.
After you receive your hearing aid, your hearing care professional will use a computer running specialized software to program it based on your unique needs. The software will give him or her the ability to “fine-tune” the way your hearing aid processes sound and to create a series of distinct listening programs for different scenarios. When you start wearing your device, these programs can be accessed manually or automatically to match whatever situation you find yourself in.
Today’s hearing aids are quite powerful, and many are capable of running a wide variety of listening programs. You can access programs that reduce feedback, help shift high frequencies to lower ones (making them more comfortable to hear), help block out unnecessary background noise, and help make speech patterns in quiet environment clearer. Your hearing professional can work with you to help determine which programs are most appropriate for your individual situation.
The way you activate one of these listening programs can vary from hearing aid to hearing aid. Some models include a small fob (much like a remote control) that allows the user to choose a program or to select or adjust other features of the hearing aid. You may be able to switch from program to program via a small switch, or your device may determine the best program for the situation without requiring your input.
Having multiple listening programs available may be particularly helpful for younger children with hearing issues. Having a number of available programs allows parents to quickly find a setting that is most comfortable for their child. This can help audiologists determine what settings will lead to the best hearing experience for the child.
The multiple listening programs feature in hearing aids can play a significant role in allowing the hearer to enjoy a more natural listening experience.