People with hearing loss need better technology to overcome background noise, report reveals

A new report from Action on Hearing Loss has showed that there is a real demand for better technology solutions to help people with hearing loss overcome communication challenges when confronted by background noise. The report released as part of the charity’s Technology Initiative for Hearing Loss also identified the lack of awareness of available solutions as an additional barrier.

The charity conducted a survey of 800 people, 88% of whom have hearing loss, to ask about the technologies people are using to help them communicate better and to understand how well these are meeting their needs. The majority of respondents said that the biggest difficulty they have is to be able to hear on their phone when in noisy environments and listening to conversation in bars, cafes and restaurants.

The majority (96%) of those surveyed said they struggle to hear in noisy situations, with only 12% of hearing aid users and just over a quarter (27%) of cochlear implant users being satisfied with the technology currently available to help them listen better. The findings surprisingly also showed that only half (51%) of hearing aids users were using a specific background noise program to help reduce difficulty in hearing in noise.

Jesal Vishnuram, Action on Hearing Loss Technology Research Manager, said:

Our research shows that there is a real need to find solutions to help people with hearing loss to communicate better in noisy situations and we are calling for manufacturers to continue to invest in new technologies while making improvements to existing ones to make them easier to use.

These include the greater use of visual indicators of battery life and connection status on remote mics, FM systems, Bluetooth streamers and apps used to control hearing aids. Also better sharing of information about assistive technologies that are available would really help as a lot of people simply don’t know what is available right now to help them hear better.

The findings also showed that cochlear implant users had a higher level of knowledge of assistive technology than hearing aid users.

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