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How Hearing Aids Help with Speech Recognition
Conversation is the basis of human interaction. The back and forth of sentences between people is the key to building and maintaining relationships. During a conversation, understanding other people and responding appropriately is key. So if the ability to understand the other person is lost, conversation breaks down and sufferers usually feel disconnected from their family and friends. From this we can see that understanding speech is a crucial ability for any person. For those with hearing loss, hearing aids have been designed to improve speech recognition.
When hearing loss affects speech recognition
When sufferers report a difficult in understanding conversation, they usually have what is called sensorineural hearing loss. This is caused by damage to the inner ear or the nerve pathways running from it. The effect is usually a loss in the clarity of sound.
This causes problems in crowded places as sufferers find it difficult to understand their own conversation against the speech sounds of other conversations in the same area. Those affected may also find it difficult in one-on-one conversations as similar-sounding speech sounds are often confused. For example the name ‘Paul’ might be confused with ‘ball’ as ‘p’ and ‘b’ are phonetically similar.
Recommendations for speech hearing aids
Sensorineural hearing loss is permanent, but it is often successfully treated with hearing aids. Luckily, there are many hearing aids that purport to manage or even eliminate problems with speech recognition.
One of the latest advances in hearing science is called Binaural Technology. It mimics a human’s use of both ears ability to determine the source of specific sounds. This is called binaural redundancy. Another feature of this tecnology is to be able to differentiate between background noise and speech sounds. Finally we have binaural directed listening: the ability to tune out competing conversation to focus only on your own conversation. The first company to leverage this technology is Siemens. Named ‘Binax’, you’ll find it on their Ace Binax, Pure Binax, Carat and Carat A Binax model hearing aids. Recently, Signia (co-branded with Siemens) introduced the Primax, which is currently the most advanced hearing aid produced, with excellent speech recognition.
Other companies to use binaural technology include Miracle Ear, who claim a 25% better speech recognition in challenging environments with their devices.
The company Oticon recently announced a new innovation called BrainHearing. This works by making it easier for the brain to identify desired sounds. Their Speech Guard E feature makes it easier for the user to dip in and out of different conversations. Another feature of BrainHearing is called Spatial Sound. This helps the user find and identify the location of different sounds in their immediate environment. This can really help the user’s safety and composure in noisy and chaotic environments like the downtown area of a big city.
In addition, we offer hearing aids with a myriad speech recognition features from Widex, Unitron, Starkey, and ReSound. Interested in improving speech recognition? Contact us at Hearing Aid Associates.
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