5 strategies for using the myPhonak Junior app to help children learn self-advocacy

Features in the myPhonak Junior app allow children to participate in their hearing healthcare with support from their parents and audiologist.

Do you have children in your practice who are learning how to manage their hearing aids?

Preparing children to advocate for their hearing needs is a process that takes place over several years. It begins early as toddlers hand their parents their hearing aid to let them know that it’s not working.

Later, as children gain dexterity, they want to learn how to put the hearing aid on themselves, and can help with simple care steps such as putting the hearing aids in the charger at night. When children enter school their advocacy needs expand, and they take on more responsibility.

Of course, children’s views about their hearing and devices should be shared freely and should be respected and given due weight given age and maturity of the child.1

There are different ways to support learning these self-advocacy skills. We recently trialed the myPhonak Junior app and believe that it can be a valuable tool in at least these five different ways:

  1. Monitor hearing aid use – the app provides average hours of daily use. Provide a goal, and children can monitor how they are doing as they work towards reaching the target number of hours. Consistent audibility is important for success in school2 and engaging children in managing use can help them practice problem-solving challenges that arise.
  2. Plan for battery charge – the app provides the percent of battery charge. Children can plan for when to charge their hearing aids to make sure the hearing aids are charged and ready for their day. Monitoring battery usage can help children learn hearing aid maintenance skills.
  3. Notice listening environments – the app includes information about noise reduction and speech focus to help children understand which environments may be difficult for them and how to adjust the speech focus slider in the app.
  4. Customize for difficult listening environments – the app allows for adjusting volume, noise reduction and microphone directionality so children can take initiative when they need to make adjustments in those environments.
  5. Learn quick tips & how to use remote support— the app provides tips for children to ensure they are maintaining their devices and learning how to troubleshoot appropriately.

Other quick tips in the app include: “How to use your hearing aid the right way”, “How to maintain your hearing aid the right way”, “Troubleshooting tips if there is no sound coming from your hearing aid”, and “Troubleshooting tips if your hearing aid whistles”.

If more help is needed, parents and children can connect to the audiologist remotely through the app for real-time support.

With our support, children can become strong self-advocates

Parents and audiologists play a critical role in supporting children in learning advocacy skills that are important for effective hearing management. This also supports the idea of Child-Centered Care (CCC) and allows the child to participate in their hearing healthcare with support from their parents and audiologist.

Learning self-advocacy is a process that works towards children being able to:3
·       Describe their own skills and needs
·       Set their own goals and create a plan to reach them
·       Know the how, who, and when to ask for assistance
·       Make decisions and then take the responsibility to deal with the consequences of them.

Resources to help you support parents and children

There are many resources available that promote advocacy.

• Hear to Learn – Help children use and care for hearing devices
• Hands & Voices – Self-advocacy for Deaf and Hard of Hearing students
• Ida Institute – Growing up with hearing loss
• Supporting Success for Children with Hearing loss – Self-advocacy skills for students with hearing loss
• Phonak – Hearing and me templates to talk about hearing loss, Guide to Access Planning (GAP) for teensSelf-advocacy checklist for teens

To learn more about the myPhonak Junior app, please visit www.phonakpro.com.

Phonak releases new Virto Paradise hearing aids

Phonak’s latest product, the Virto Paradise, is a custom-made hearing device which resembles a modern earbud. This revolutionary in-the-ear aid gives you all the benefits of the Paradise line, with customizable features and hands-free communication.

Phonak Virto Paradise

The Phonak Virto Paradise is the most recent hearing aid to join the Paradise platform. In August 2020, Paradise (P) was released for receiver in canal (RIC) wearers with the Audéo hearing aid. A year later, people with single sided deafness were able to get CROS P. Now there’s the Virto P.

The Virto P product line includes:

  • Virto P-312 (including Virto P Black)
  • Virto P-10 NWO – in the ear and invisible

Read more: Phonak announces Audeo Life waterproof hearing aids

Made for All Connectivity

The biggest difference with the Virto P 312 from other in-the-ear hearing aids on the market is that it has made for all (MFA) connectivity with two active pairings. It is actually the only Made For All [MFA] hearing aid currently available on the market. This means it offers hands-free communication.

“It is actually the only ‘Made for All’ hearing aid currently available on the market.”

“If your personal phone is an Android and your work device is iOS, you’re covered,” said Whitney Spagnola, Phonak U.S. Marketing Manager. “If you have a smart TV, Bluetooth compatible computer, an older flip phone, etc., any of these Bluetooth capable electronics can pair to your hearing aids. It may sound simple. But for hearing aid manufacturers, it’s not. The real estate of your ear is really small. As a result, it takes quite a bit of development time and forethought to provide MFA in hearing aids.”

Now with the Virto P, you can put your phone down on your kitchen island while cooking dinner and go about your various tasks all while still on the phone call. And it will be clear on both ends.

Customization

Audiologists use special software from Phonak to program hearing aids. Hearing aids are programmed by audiologists to fit the hearing loss of each individual, as everyone’s hearing is unique. Virto P brings additional customization at your fingertips via the myPhonak app,  which allows you to make your own adjustments based on the fitting provided by your audiologist. But until now, every Phonak Paradise hearing aid was built the same way and looks the same. Virto is different.

Virto P hearing aids are custom-built using special software that takes into account the patient’s individual ear anatomy. It extracts over 1,600 unique data points from the ear.

“We use this to refine the way the directional algorithms in the hearing aid help you hear,” Spagnola explained. “Each ear is unique. Look at your Grandpa’s, your nephew’s, your neighbor’s. They’re all different. The inside and outside are all there to help you hear better. And with the ear impression information, our Rapid Shell Modeling Software can actually extract your anatomical structure to change the way the device performs.”

Virto P-312

This is a fully-connected in-the-ear (ITE) hearing device that resembles a modern earbud. It can distinguish between streamed speech and music. The Virto M Black was first unveiled at CES 2020 (Consumer Electronics Show), where it received multiple awards and accolades for its “stigma-busting design that blurred the lines between a hearing aid and a hearable,” according to the Phonak press release. This is the second generation version. It comes in several colors, including the highly anticipated color of black.

Read more: Is an in-the-ear hearing aid right for me?

Virto Paradise hearing aids come in a variety of colors, accessories, and user options. They are now available in the U.S. Select markets worldwide will have them in the coming months.

Watch how a Virto P hearing aid is made (Note: this is meant for audiologists, so don’t fear the jargon!)

Holidays with Hearing Loss: 12 Tips for Families

The holidays can be the most wonderful time of the year – or the most stressful! For people with hearing loss, the season’s gatherings often mean struggling to connect with friends and family through tables of competing conversations and clattering dishes.

Whether you have hearing loss or are hosting someone who does, there are a number of things you can do to help everyone stay connected during festivities. Read below for 12 survival tips guaranteed to keep the holidays merry and bright.

If you have hearing loss…

  • Wear your hearing aids, if you have them! It should go without saying, but this step is often forgotten. Also considering paying your hearing specialist a visit for a hearing aid tune-up before heading out for the holidays and be sure to bring extra batteries to all holiday events.
  • Don’t be shy about your needs. Let your loved ones know that you want to make sure you’re a part of conversations. Ask them to keep background noise such as music or television to a minimum and speak clearly.
  • Team up! Partner with a friend or relative ahead of time who can help keep you in the loop by filling you in on any bits of conversation you may miss.
  • Stay rested. It’s a lot of work trying to keep up with conversations when you have hearing loss. Be sure to get rest the day before and take a few minutes away from the crowd to refresh as needed to avoid hearing fatigue.
  • Go one-on-one.  Find chances to connect with individuals in a quiet room. Take the grandkids aside for some playtime or help the cook out in the kitchen.
  • Be strategic with your seating. Try to sit against a wall, in a position where you will be able to see as many people as possible. If you have a “good ear” position yourself to maximize its use. Seat those with quiet or high-pitched voices (such as children) closest to you.
  • Clear your view. Visual cues are critical for keeping up with the conversation, so make sure you can see everyone at the dinner table. Keep the room well-lit and remove any excessive centerpieces.
  • Go easy on yourself! Group settings are a challenging hearing situation. Even people with no hearing loss may have trouble following every conversation. Have your best holiday by having realistic expectations and celebrating the positives.

If you’re hosting a guest with hearing loss…

  • Get their attention. Before you start speaking, say the person’s name or touch their arm so they can “tune in” to what you’re saying.
  • Reduce excess noise. Turn off background noise like TV and music.
  • Speak naturally, but clearly. Shouting or over-emphasizing your words can actually make them harder to understand. Make lip-reading easier by refraining from chewing while talking.
  • Have the conversation, one-on-one. Holidays and family gatherings are often the moment when the difficulties of hearing loss become most apparent. If you’re ready to approach a loved one about treating their hearing loss, wait until after the big gathering has died down so you can talk one-on-one. Use our tips for helping a loved one with hearing loss to address the issues and see if they’ll take the first step toward better hearing through an easy online hearing test.

 

Phonak Audeo V Review

The following is a guest post comes from Kelly Wycoff, a longtime hearing aid wearer and Connect Hearing Hearing Care Professional. With her personal experience and professional expertise, we thought she was the perfect person to kick off our new series of hearing aid reviews. Thanks, Kelly!

Having worn hearing aids since age 4, I’ve seen the advances in hearing technology firsthand and have been really impressed by what’s come out of the last few years. The new Audeo V line from Phonak is no exception. I’ve been wearing Phonak Audeo V90s since January, after 5 years with wearing different manufacturers’ receiver-in-the canal (RIC) hearing aids and have found them to be truly different level of hearing aid technology than what I’ve worn in the past.

About the Phonak Audeo V

Before I get started on my experience, let’s take a quick look at the technical details!

First off, the V in Audeo V stands for Venture, the newest technology platform from Phonak. The keystone of this platform is its operating system, AutoSense OS. The “brain” of the hearing aid, it automatically senses your listening environment and instantly changes to the best of 200 pre-programmed listening modes. The platform also uses new chip technology which aims to increase battery life by 30 percent or more.

All hearing aids in the Audeo V line are receiver-in-the-canal (RIC) models. They are designed for people with mild to severe hearing losses and come in four performance levels: basic (V30), economy (V50), advanced (V70), and premium (V90). The models differ both in price (there’s around a $1,000 per two hearing aids increase in cost each time you increase performance levels) and the number of programs and channels they offer.

My Experience Wearing Phonak Audeo V90 Hearing Aids

I’ve been wearing Audeo V90s for the last four months and long story short: I love this technology – I’m hearing things I was never able to before and think about my hearing aids a lot less.

To give you a little background, I have about a 32% hearing loss. It’s a sloping hearing loss, meaning it is worse in the higher frequencies. In everyday terms, this means things sound muddled, and I have the most trouble with high-pitched noises, like female voices.

Here’s what I’ve noticed:

Sound Quality

The first thing I noticed when I put them in is how there was no white noise within a quiet room.  There is very little feedback with these hearing aids. Just the crisp sounds of speech were a little overwhelming!  I’ve simply never heard these sounds before.

Overall, the sound quality is great. I’m hearing a lot more high pitched noises and consonants like t and s come through more clearly. It’s a lot easier to hear in busy, noisy places like when I’m out doing hearing screenings in the community. My own voice sounds more natural too – not “barrel-like.”

Listening to music with these in is also a whole new experience. The instruments sound clearer and more distinct.  I’ve been re-listening to songs from the 80s and 90s and am just amazed at what I’m hearing. Sometimes they sound like entirely different songs!

Automatic Programs

You know how people say they take their hearing for granted? Lately, I’ve started saying I take my hearing aids for granted.  I hardly ever touch them, except to insert them and take them out. They really do automatically adjust to the listening situation seamlessly. With other hearing aids I’ve worn, I’ve noticed the programs changing and it was really annoying.

Comfort & Insertion

I find these hearing aids very easy to insert and comfortable to wear.  There are a variety of custom earmolds to suit different patients. I opt to wear them with the domes, which I find more comfortable than acrylic hard shells, while patients with dexterity issues may want to look at the cShells.

Battery Life

In my experience, claims about battery life have stood up. I’m getting 8 or 9 days per battery vs. 5 or 6 days from my old hearing aids.

Technology Compatibility

You can stream your phone, computer or TV directly to your hearing aids through the ComPilot II. The new smartphone app from Phonak also lets you control volume and programs with new precision, including the ability to adjust volume in the right or left ear separately.

Is Audeo V Right for You?

From a professional perspective, one of the best things about this hearing aid is the wide range of people it works for. It will fit patients with mild to severe hearing loss and can be reprogrammed should your hearing loss change. It’s easy to use for people who want something simple, but has a lot of advanced features for people who are technology savvy. And should you ever run into trouble with it, many repairs can be done in the center, meaning you won’t have to have it sent away.

Choosing Between the Audeo V90, V70, V50 and V30

The biggest difference between the performance levels is the different number of channels each offers. I tell patients it’s like shopping for a TV: For better resolution, choose a television with more pixels per inch. For clearer hearing, choose a hearing aid with more channels. (This can be especially important for people with “ski slope hearing loss” because some areas that might sound too loud or not loud enough with fewer channels.)

I’ve been lucky to wear the premium V90s and that’s what I’d recommend if you want the best sound. The V90 does amazing in the car or in places that echo like the museum even when compared to the V70. There’s still a lot to offer in the lower performance levels for patients looking for something more in-budget though. I recommend trying the different models out to see which performance level works best for  you.

Try Audeo V Hearing Aids Free

You can try the Audeo V line of hearing aids absolutely free by calling us.

Phonak Bolero V: A Patient’s Review

Patient Dick Riddle of Wisconsin recently contacted Connect Hearing to share his experience wearing the new Phonak Bolero V-50 hearing aid. After wearing hearing aids for more than 30 years, Dick says he’s never been as impressed with technology before. We’re honored to be able to share his words below.

I’ve been wearing hearing aids for more than 30 years and have never had one help as much as this one. I call it “my new best friend” – the first thing I do is put it on in the morning and the last thing I do at night is take it out.

I really have to thank the staff at your Oconomowoc hearing clinic. We looked at a few options, but the second I tried this new hearing aid, I knew it was the one for me! I’ve heard sounds I haven’t heard since I started wearing hearing aids. I think of it as “the Cadillac of hearing aids.”

Having a great hearing aid is something of a safety issue for me. I completely lost hearing in my left ear after having a mastoidectomy in 1957. Without my hearing aids, I wouldn’t drive very often – imagine not being able to hear an ambulance coming up behind you. It would be dangerous to everyone on the highway.

For anyone considering getting trying hearing aids for the first time, my advice is to remember everyone is different. Look at all your options and work with your hearing professional to make sure you’re getting the best aid for your situation You can’t expect hearing aids to replace your natural hearing – but today’s technology is as close to a perfect replacement as I’ve ever had!

Try Bolero V Hearing Aids Free!

You can try the Bolero V line of hearing aids absolutely free by contacting us.