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DEC 2012 -MAR 2013


For all your hearing options


A comprehensive information & services directory



ASK THE EXPERTS ~ Stop hearing aids whistling ~ Genetics of otosclerosis

Now you can hear while you shower, surf and swim!

The latest digital advances to enhance your summer entertainment How to avoid Swimmer's Ear & Surfer's Ear

Invisible hearing aids




Images: Beach - HerryLawford; Cover Halle Berry - Helga Esteb /






CAN YOU KEEP A SECRET? An exposé on the exciting world of invisible hearing aids.


GET THE MOST OUT OF SUMMER Technology to help you embrace the joy of summer.



12 TECHNOLOGY Captioning for cinema and theatre lovers.


BOOKS ‘N BLOGS Great books for kids with hearing loss.

HQ hearing

Editor Helen Lowy Sub Editor Simone Wheeler Contributors Daniela Andrews Yvonne Keane Roberta Marino Dr Celene McNeill Experts Assoc Prof Melville da Cruz Emma Scanlan, Audiologist Roberta Marino, Audiologist Advertising Sales Executive Julia Turner 0414 525 516 Publisher Lucinda Mitchell Printed by Offset Alpine

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ED’S LETTER What’s happening in the Hearing HQ world. NEWSBITES Research, innovations and things you need to know. ALL ABOUT… Focus on a specific hearing loss condition or issue. ASK THE EXPERTS Professional advice on reader questions and concerns.


REAL PEOPLE REAL STORIES Inspiring, life changing stories. LIFE IS GOOD A mum’s perspective on hearing loss.


DEAFINING MOMENTS The funny side of living with hearing loss.


PRODUCTS & SERVICES Information at your fingertips.


HERE TO HELP Organisations providing hearing health advice and support.

The Editorial Advisory Board provides guidance and expertise on a voluntary basis. They may not review every article and make no warranty as to the scientific accuracy of the magazine. They are not responsible for any errors published and do not endorse advertised products. If you have any questions about editorial content, please direct them to

Assoc Prof Robert Cowan, CEO HEARing Cooperative Research Centre

Alex Varley, Chief Executive Media Access Australia

Sharan Westcott Clinical Manager, SCIC

Dr Neville Lockhart

Former principal audiologist for Australian Hearing, Sharan Westcott has provided audiology services to children and adults for more than 40 years and now coordinates a team of surgeons, audiologists, speech pathologists and social workers at SCIC.

After 45 years of profound deafness Dr Lockhart received a cochlear implant in 2005. His involvement in the cochlear implant support group CICADA and his technology background (retired senior CSIRO scientist) led him to become editor of CICADA Magazine (now Hearing HQ).

Adjunct Prof Harvey Dillon Director of Research, NAL

Olivia Andersen, Founder/Director Hear for You

Principal Research Fellow of Melbourne University, A/Prof Cowan has researched and published extensively in the fields of audiology, cochlear implants, sensory devices and biomedical management. He holds the '06 Denis Byrne Memorial Orator Award.

Dr Dillon has researched many aspects of hearing aids, effectiveness of rehabilitation, auditory processing disorders and methods for preventing hearing loss. He has designed hearing aids, authored over 160 articles and his text on hearing aids is used worldwide.

MAA focuses on identifying practical, realworld solutions for people with disabilities to access audiovisual content to empower people to be independent. They provide advice to government, industry, educators and individuals.

Profoundly deaf from birth, Olivia Andersen started Hear For You, a not-for-profit organisation to help young deaf people achieve their life dreams. The birth of her first child prompted her decision to have a cochlear implant.

If you have questions about product suitability for your specific needs, we recommend you consult an audiologist or doctor. Any person with health issues or medical concerns should first take advice from a health professional. Hearing HQ Magazine is published by The Tangello Group Pty Limited (ABN 38 155 438 574) PO Box 649 Edgecliff NSW 2027 and is subject to copyright in its entirety. The contents may not be reproduced in any form, either in whole or part, without written permission from the publisher. All rights reserved in material accepted for publication unless specified otherwise. All letters and other material forwarded to the magazine will be assumed intended for publication unless clearly labelled “not for publication”. Text, photographs and illustrations received in hard copy must be accompanied by a self-addressed envelope stamped to the appropriate value (including registered or certified mail if required) if return requested. The Tangello Group Pty Limited does not accept responsibility for damage to, or loss of, submitted material. Opinions expressed in Hearing HQ Magazine are those of the contributors and not necessarily those of The Tangello Group Pty Limited. No responsibility is accepted for unsolicited material. No liability is accepted by the publisher, the authors or members of the editorial advisory board for any information contained herein. All endeavours are made to ensure accuracy and veracity of all content and advice herein but neither Hearing HQ Magazine, its publisher, contributors or editorial advisory board members is responsible for damage or harm, of whatever description, resulting from persons undertaking any advice or purchasing any products mentioned or advertised in Hearing HQ Magazine or its website.

Hearing HQ Dec 2012 - Mar 2013


ed's letter

To have your say contact me at: or PO Box 649 Edgecliff NSW 2027 Please include your full name, suburb and state. Letters may be edited for space.


HQ Magazine Aug-Nov 2012

By the time this issue reaches your hands I hope that summer, in all its glory, will have arrived and finds you enjoying fun in the sun and water, festive celebrations with family and friends and some well-earned holiday relaxation. It has been an exciting few months at Hearing HQ preparing for this second issue and thanks to everyone for the wonderful feedback on the last issue. We welcome a new columnist Daniela Andrews from Melbourne, who lost her hearing at 27 and has bilateral cochlear implants. A soon-to-be mum of two, we hope you love her quirky anecdotes as much as we do. For those who don’t have internet access, thanks to reader feedback we’ve now added phone details to our HERE TO HELP directory, but you can still find full contact info and links at Talking about the website, make sure you drop by regularly as we constantly add content that we can’t fit into the magazine including a table of all the invisible hearing aids and their features (which we discovered hasn't existed until now!). You can also comment on articles via the website and for our professional readers, look out soon for a JOB BOARD to post and find hearing industry jobs. Our Facebook page is growing too, so drop in and ‘like’ us to share in the conversation. We also want to hear your suggestions, comments and questions for our experts by post or email and look forward to hearing from you. To your hearing health! Helen Lowy Editor

newsbites Improve Your Auditory Processing Auditory processing is the ability to make decisions about what we hear and to comprehend what is said to us. But this diminishes with an ageing central nervous system, because we are generally less active and have poorer cardiovascular health. While hearing loss can occur at any age, processing what we hear doesn’t have to get old. Hearing aids can help our ability to hear better, but they don’t help us process what we hear according to research conducted by Ray Hull, audiologist and Professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders at Wichita State University. Hull says, "There is good news though as it doesn’t seem to matter at what age we begin to improve our cardiovascular health and engage in a more active lifestyle. Even moderate cardiovascular exercise in your late 80s or early 90s can improve your ability to process what you hear and speed your decision-making process.” Source:

A free hearing check - just a phone call away Think you might have a hearing loss? Telscreen is one of the most sophisticated self-check telephone hearing services in the world. Although not a replacement for testing by a qualified practitioner, it is particularly useful in rural and remote parts of the country. Developed by the National Acoustic Laboratories, the test is available in English, Mandarin, Cantonese, Italian, Greek, Arabic, Turkish, Serbian, Macedonian, Spanish and Vietnamese. To take the test call 1800 826 500 toll free anytime, anywhere in Australia and follow the voice prompts. TM


A first-of-its-kind software that translates sign language into written text has been created by scientists at the University of Aberdeen. It is hoped it will help young deaf people overcome the communication disadvantages they experience, allowing them to fulfil their education potential, find work and communicate with colleagues. Signing into the standard camera integrated into most portable computer devices, the signs are immediately translated into text that can be read by the person the user is conversing with. Expected to be available by late 2013, the intent is to develop an easily accessible app. Recognising a range of sign languages, one of the most innovative and exciting aspects of the technology is that it can be personalised so users can develop their own signs for jargon or technical concepts and terms they need to have in their vocabulary that don’t exist in sign language.


Deep in the inner ear of mammals is a natural battery — a chamber filled with ions that produces an electrical potential to drive neural signals. A team of researchers from MIT, the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary and the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology have shown for the first time that this battery could eventually power implantable electronic devices without impairing hearing. The ear converts a mechanical force, the vibration of the eardrum, into an electrochemical signal that can be processed by the brain; the biological battery is the source of that signal’s current. Located in the cochlea, the battery chamber is divided by a membrane, some of whose cells are specialised to pump ions. An imbalance of potassium and sodium ions on opposite sides of the membrane, together with the particular arrangement of the pumps, creates an electrical voltage. Devices powered by this natural battery could monitor biological activity in the ears of people with hearing or balance impairments, or responses to therapies, and may eventually deliver therapies themselves. Current cochlear implants however, lose a lot of their power in transmission across the skin to the implanted device, so require much more power than the cochlea could supply. Cliff Megerian, Chairman of Otolaryngology at Case Western Reserve University and University Hospitals Case Medical Center, says he sees possible future applications in cochlear implants, diagnostics and implantable hearing aids. Source:

Hearing HQ Dec 2012 - Mar 2013


newsbites New mobile device LightOn, a unique stand that fits all brands of mobile phones, converts the vibration signals of calls, messages and emails (in the case of smartphones) into a brightly flashing LED alert light that's strong enough to wake sleepers when used as an alarm clock. It’s also useful for people with partial hearing loss who may not hear their mobile phone ring at home when they remove their hearing aid or have the television up loud. Borrowing from the concept of a blinking light on landlines and doorbells already used by the hearing impaired, Israeli medical device start-up DreamZon co-founder Eli Padan created LightOn out of frustration that his hearing-impaired parents would not see his text messages saying he was in the area and wanted to drop to in to visit. Available in Australia via The Deaf Club Sydney online shop for $79.95 or direct from with free shipping.

It’s 3am and your GP is closed.

Queensland Police have introduced an SMS and email service for the deaf and hearing impaired to report non-urgent matters through their contact centre Policelink. To report theft, break and enter, a stolen vehicle, lost property or wilful damage to property, you can now send a text message to 0437 131 444 or email PolicelinkDS@police.qld. Urgent matters must be reported through 000 or via 106 through the National Relay Service.


Who can answer your questions? Help is now a phone call away with a new government-funded after-hours medical helpline. A registered nurse or GP can give you reassurance and practical medical advice about how to treat the condition at home until you can see your regular GP. Information is provided on after-hours services in your local area and whether you need to go to your local hospital emergency department. With your permission, a record of your phone consultation can be sent to your GP. The helpline operates from 6pm to 8am Monday to Saturday, 12-noon Saturday to 8am Monday and on public holidays. Landline calls to 1800 022 222 are free, but charges may apply from mobiles. In Queensland the helpline can also be accessed by calling 13-HEALTH and in Victoria through NURSEON-CALL services. In Tasmania the service can be accessed through GP Assist on 1300 780 011.

The National Acoustic Laboratories (the research division of Australian Hearing) and the HEARing CRC need the help of 18 to 35 year olds, with and without hearing loss to complete a written survey investigating the hearing status of a large group of adolescents and young adults in the general community. The study aims to understand attitudes and beliefs about hearing loss prevention and to estimate exposure to leisure sound. It will also review the hearing status, leisure activities, attitudes and beliefs of a large group of young people already known to have some degree of permanent hearing loss to find out if there are special issues for young people who wear hearing aids and/or cochlear implants. The study hopes to identify potential risks and provide strategies to reduce preventable hearing loss. To take part email or call Lyndal Carter, Senior Research Audiologist on 02 9412 6962.

Hearing HQ Dec 2012 - Mar 2013

Race to develop hearing protection pill If you could take a pill to prevent hearing loss, would you? The developers of a handful of experimental compounds currently in human trials say a drug for noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) will likely be approved by the US Food and Drug Administration in the next five to 10 years, making them the first of their kind, replacing earplugs with a pill. NIHL is of particular concern to the military, so it's not surprising that three of the potentially protective chemicals – D-methionine (a naturally occurring chemical in cheese and yoghurt), ebselen and N-acetylcysteine – are being tested on military personnel first. All three give a boost to an enzyme called glutathione, a natural antioxidant produced by the body to protect the ears from damage. In the case of noise stimulation we deplete glutathione and these drugs hope to speed up the rate at which it is replenished. Each has been shown to be relatively safe in preliminary human studies. D-methionine may also have the ability to protect cancer patients from hearing loss caused by certain chemotherapy drugs like cisplatin. One of the developers predicts that outside the obvious benefit to the military, the drugs will have a place for treatment of occupational and recreational noise exposure with people taking a pill before going to a concert or to mow the lawn! Source:

Turn your iPhone into a makeshift hearing aid Currently in the top five medical apps on iTunes the SoundAMP uses the iPhone’s built-in directional microphone hardware and headphone output to take environmental sounds, run them through a filter and amplify them so you can better understand a conversation in noisy environments. It’s smart enough to identify main sounds and ambient noises, filtering environmental commotion while increasing the volume of what you need to hear. You can boost selected frequencies with the equalizer and adjust background sound levels for each situation making it perfect for restaurants, lecture halls and watching TV. Adjustments can be customised and saved for each ear. The Lite version costs $0.99 and for $5.49 you can also record presentations or even important information at a doctor’s appointment. Recordings can be bookmarked and exported to your computer. Another iTunes app, EARs from Ear Machine LLC, also uses intelligent audio software to allow you to discover what sounds best to you.

hear together

with Australia’s most experienced cochlear implant program

In November the HEARing CRC launched The Hearing Education and Research Network (, a new website for hearing health professionals and consumers. It provides upto-date information on hearing health, technology, innovations and how to protect your hearing. A clever interactive ear diagram shows how the different kinds of hearing technologies interact with the ear. For professionals there is an extensive digital library of studies, reports and other resources, as well as an accredited online training centre.

‘NO GAP’ services*

✓ implant assessment ✓ medical care ✓ rehabilitation ✓ lifelong care ✓ public & private clients

from 4 months to 95 years *subject to your Health Fund rules

1300 658 981


CAN YOU KEEP A Given only 25% of those who should wear a hearing aid wear them, Helen Lowy goes undercover, with the help of independent audiologists Dr Celene McNeill and Roberta Marino, to investigate why and discovers an exciting specialised subcategory of hearing aids that allow you to keep your hearing loss a secret.

There are many reasons people put off seeking help for hearing loss. It may be from fears about the cost, vanity or often outdated ideas about how much hearing aids can actually help. And, for those in their prime earning years there is a very real fear that a hearing aid will reflect poorly on their capacity to do their job. And, they’re not alone. Voted one of the “world’s sexiest” women, Halle Berry is the poster girl for people who really don’t want to publicise their hearing loss. We celebrate high profile celebrities and powerful business leaders like Bill Clinton, who willingly admit to their use of hearing aids and openly support organisations trying to change negative attitudes. But, we also have to acknowledge that they don’t usually do this until they no longer fear any personal impact. Continued advances in miniaturisation of computer chips, computer-aided shell design and 3D ear impression scanning means hearing aids are now so small and sit so deep in your ear canal that they are invisible to the naked eye. All this without compromising performance. And before you say 'miniature' must mean 'expensive', some of these “invisible in the canal” (IIC) hearing aids are surprisingly affordable when compared to other styles. Although very new to the market, most manufacturers now include an IIC in their


Hearing HQ Dec 2012 - Mar 2013

range, in different price brackets from standard through to premium depending on their performance level and features. So, now no one needs to know you’re wearing a hearing aid! Of course there are some challenges and compromises with hearing aids this small: • Their size and deep placement requires specific ear geometry to sit tightly and comfortably. • Some ear health issues may mean this type of device is not suitable. • The tiny battery, which needs to be replaced every three to four days, means limited power capacity so these devices are only suitable for hearing loss no worse than moderate severity (60 to 65dB in the low frequency and up to 70 to 75dB in high frequency). • Because they are so deep they cannot utilise directional microphones, the most effective way currently of improving speech audibility in background noise. • Although miniaturisation can accommodate most of the advanced features now expected of a hearing aid, battery-hungry wireless connectivity to external audio sources is not one. But there are benefits too: • Sitting almost against the ear drum provides good spatial directional awareness due to the natural acoustic amplification that is present in the normal external ear. • Being so deep inside the ear there is almost no wind noise, whistling feedback or occlusion (bone-conducted sound vibrations of a person’s own voice or chewing caused when the ear canal is blocked by an ear mould). • They are more comfortable to use with the

telephone or headphones as there is no external device, although they don't include a telecoil to directly connect to an audio source. • For the physically active, they are reassuringly safe from falling out or damage. The IIC category emerged with the launch of American manufacturer Starkey’s SoundLens in 2011 and it didn’t take long for all the other major brands to introduce their own IIC model. The SoundLens is the world’s smallest custom, invisible, digital, programmable hearing aid and incorporates Starkey’s PureWave feedback cancellation and IQ speech preservation/ noise reduction technologies. Because IIC hearing aids sit deeply inside the ear canal where they are subject to moisture and ear wax, most brands have been treated with a special water-repellent coating. Although not able to be used under water, most can be worn in the shower or while swimming above the surface if suitable precautions are taken, like wearing a swimming cap or ear plugs to protect water getting into the ear canal. IIC aids are custom-made from an impression taken of your ear canal to ensure they fit snugly and comfortably. They are then fitted and programmed by an audiologist, after which you are able to insert or remove them yourself on a daily basis. Because of the moist ear canal environment, this type of hearing aids requires diligent daily maintenance to ensure the receiver and microphone don’t get clogged with ear wax. Does the thought of having to handle something so small and so delicate fill you with dread? Do you worry changing Phonak's Lyric disposable IIC hearing aid

Halle Berry image courtesy MGM

SECRET? the tiny battery every few days will be a challenge for less-than-nimble fingers or poor eyesight? Or, do you just know you’ll lose something so small? Then, Swiss company Phonak has the answer with Lyric, the first and only disposable extended wear IIC hearing aid. Designed to stay in the ear for up to four months, the battery lasts this entire time. The device needs to be inserted and replaced by an audiologist with specialised equipment. A ‘one-size-fits-all’ modular aid with varying sized domes for different sized ear canals, there are some ear structures the Lyric won’t fit. And due to the length of time it stays inserted inside the ear, it may not be appropriate for those with high wax secretion or a tendency for ear infections. This is where your audiologist will help assess its merits and limitations in relation to your specific hearing needs and ear canal anatomy. The Lyric uses analogue technology that amplifies sound waves to make them louder, compared with digital aids that convert sounds into digital format allowing them to be programmed. Although analogue is an older technology, the Lyric is said to deliver a higher quality sound than a budget digital device. Do keep in mind that while you can remove your Lyric once the battery dies or if it troubles you, a new aid can only be inserted by a clinician. So, if the battery dies on a Friday afternoon, you’ll be left without a hearing aid until you can get an appointment to replace the device, which may well not be until the Monday. The fact the Lyric is a leave-and-forget device appeals to some who like to be able to hear when they wake in the morning and go to bed at night. If you play sport you don’t need to worry about them falling out and if you live in a humid climate where

Bond girl Halle Berry lost about 80% of her hearing in one ear after being physically abused by a former boyfriend. Although she does not publicly discuss the hearing loss that resulted, she has not let it stand in the way of her performance as an actor. Her latest movie Cloud Atlas hits cinemas on 21 February 2013.

Halle Berry as Giacinta 'Jinx' Johnson who emerged out of the sea Ursula Andress style in the James Bond movie Die Another Day.

sweat causes problems with your hearing aid, the Lyric could be a good option. In noisy situations, like an exuberant family gathering or seeing a rock band, it can be turned off or to sleep mode, effectively becoming an ear plug. The volume can also be adjusted using a special magnetic tool. Like any type of hearing aid or for that matter any prosthetic device (think orthodontic braces), an IIC hearing aid, and particularly the Lyric, may take some getting used to in terms of comfort and feel. Some wearers say theirs drove them crazy during the first week or so, but now they hardly notice them. And, as with all hearing aids, hearing in background noise with an IIC hearing aid may still be a bit challenging. If you are used to wearing digital hearing aids and move to the analogue Lyric you may find it takes some time to adjust to the sound – this may be more of an issue for you than the initial uncomfortableness. Because analogue treats all sound equally and there is no digital noise reduction or fast acting transient compression system, it may take a while to acclimatise to clanging cutlery and other sounds that seem more pronounced than normal. Because the Lyric needs to be replaced every three to four months, it is sold on a subscription basis. The cost is around $2,400 per year for a single ear. As the cost is broken down into a monthly fee, there is no big initial outlay. Plus you don’t need batteries or repairs, as the device is replaced every four months, and technology upgrades are guaranteed. When it comes to the self-inserted IIC ranges available in Australia, aside from Starkey’s SoundLens, consumers can choose from Phonak’s Nano range; Unitron’s Quantum Micro CIC range; Widex’s

MENU and Mind range; Oticon’s Intiga i range; Siemens’ Eclipse XCEL range; Sonic Innovations Groove; the OLE Persona Medical from Evertone; and GN Resound’s Verso IIC, the latest to be released in Australia. Every manufacturer advertises a range of features that differentiate their product. For a detailed comparison of the IICs mentioned here go to

Phonak’s Nano range includes SoundRecover, a feature that restores high frequency sounds otherwise inaudible like the consonants ‘f’, ‘s’ and ‘th’ and higherpitched female and children’s voices. They also claim some very clever underlying technology to improve the contrast between speech and noise in different listening environments. Canada’s Unitron, which is now owned by the Swiss company Sonova that owns Phonak, has always been a leader in producing value for money hearing aids. They have a reputation for selecting the best technologies on the market and packaging them into a lower cost, well-performing hearing aid. Unitron’s Quantum Micro uses the ERA microchip that has 16 million transistors capable of over 200 million processing calculations per second, essentially the heavyweight of the digital sound processing world. The Quantum Micro 6 is also one of the most affordable IIC hearing aids on the market today. Providing automatic performance and speech understanding in noise, the Micro range is aimed at first-time wearers. Germany’s Siemens is the largest hearing aid manufacturer in the world and has a local manufacturing


Premium $3,800 - $4,750 All available features with maximum number of channels. More automatic functions, smoother transitions, faster signal processing.

facility in Brisbane. The Eclipse range features their latest processing platform XCEL that de-couples channels for precise fine tuning so that sound quality and features can be tailored to suit specific hearing needs in multiple listening environments without over or under amplification. In the past Widex from Denmark has not focused on the budget-conscious end of the hearing aid market (although they do offer them), concentrating more on the premium end. But the newly released MENU range seems to be an effort to address this side of their portfolio. Their unique sound processing platform includes noise reduction, high-level compression and state-of-the-art feedback cancellation. Oticon from Denmark is also one of the world’s largest hearing aid manufacturers and operate their own chain of Audioclinic retail stores. The company has won several design awards and is known for sound quality, sleek appearance and durability. The technology inside the Intiga range is based on the latest RISE II hearing aid chipset and the most advanced Intiga 10 hearing aids feature Floating Linear Gain for enhanced sound quality. Sonic Innovations is an American hearing aid company and operator of the HearingLife clinics in Australia. It was acquired in late 2010 by the Danish company that also owns Oticon and Bernafon. Sonic Innovations' technology development has always focused on producing the best electronics noise reduction algorithms, but due to the small size of the company they had not released dramatically new technology for a number of years. With the acquisition, they have started to share technology with Oticon’s much larger research

Siemens’ Eclipse XCEL Advanced Standard $2,900 - $3,750 $2,150 - $2,850 All Standard features with All Basic features plus more more channels. channels for finer tuning, more listening programs, more automatic speech clarity, better noise reduction, some wireless and bluetooth connectivity. Minimum number of channels.

Basic $1,450 - $2,100 100% digital, reduced background noise, at least 3 listening programs, automatically increases soft speech sounds and reduces annoying loud sounds, reduces listening effort.

* The above prices are only a guide of what you should expect to pay for the hearing aid excluding your audiologist's fees and services. Prices vary significantly from clinic to clinic. Most clinics bundle the cost of the hearing aid with their clinical services and warranty. This is because hearing aids need to be fitted and programmed for your individual hearing loss and tested on a regular basis. Some clinics itemise all services and unbundle the costs.


Hearing HQ Dec 2012 - Mar 2013


Phonak's Lyric


Phonak's Spice Nano



Logically, the more able you are to communicate with confidence and ease the greater the positive impact on many aspects of your life, both professional and personal. Studies indicate wearing a hearing aid has a positive impact on your emotional stability and sense of control over life events, the intimacy and warmth in your family relationships, as well as people’s perception of your mental functioning and your overall physical health. The effects of hearing loss are cumulative. Just as muscles grow weak from lack of use, our brains forget how to process sounds and recognise speech without regular auditory stimulation. So the sooner you do something about your diminishing hearing (and that means before it becomes a real problem), the better your long term quality of life.

Lyric, the world’s first and only 100% invisible, 24/7 wearable, sweat-proof, shower-proof, for-months-at-a-time* hearing device, can. Finally, effortless hearing

Clear, natural sound quality

Even showerproof **

Lyric is the world’s first invisible extended-wear hearing device. There are no batteries to change, no daily maintenance is needed and no daily insertion and removal is required.

Lyric’s unique design and placement works with your ear’s anatomy to deliver exceptional sound quality in quiet and noisy environments.

Unlike many hearing aids, Lyric can be used during almost all your daily activities, such as exercising, showering, talking on the phone and sleeping.

*Individual patient needs may vary. **Lyric is water resistant, not water proof, and should not be completely submerged under water. Lyric is not appropriate for all patients. See an authorised Lyric provider to determine if Lyric is right for you. ©2012 All rights reserved.

To find an authorised Lyric provider near you call

1 8000 LYRIC or for more information:


Oticon's Intiga i



Siemens’ Eclipse XCEL

and development department, combining superior hardware with their market leading noise reduction. The Groove is only available in the top of the range premium level and features adaptive feedback cancellation, automatic noise reduction and patented 24-channel SonicSound digital processing. Only just launched in Australia, is the Verso IIC from Denmark’s GN ReSound featuring their unique sound processing strategy Surround Sound. IIC hearing aids are without doubt the most discrete of all hearing aids provided you have the right ear anatomy. But, for men with a bit more hair coverage behind the ear and women who wear their hair down, the new generation of miniature behind the ear (BTE) hearing aids are strong contenders for consideration. Many feature wireless functionality, telecoil, advanced directional systems, latest generation chips and are suitable for all losses, even profound, as the speaker can be upgraded. Manufacturers describe these as receiver in canal (RIC), canal receiver technology (CRT) or receiver in the ear (RITE). They feature a tiny main body that sits discretely behind the ear and is connected by a very thin transparent wire to a receiver (speaker) on a soft dome that fits inside the ear canal. In most cases all that can be seen is the very fine wire and only if you look very closely. So, if you suspect you have hearing loss don't wait to get tested. Your secret will be safe with your audiologist!



To help you make the most of your summer entertainment options, Helen Lowy investigates the latest advances in digital technology enhancing choice for deaf and hearing-impaired Australians.

ACCESSIBLE CINEMA In an ideal world, every cinema would have a screen or two that permanently shows open captioned movies for those with challenged hearing – similar to onscreen subtitles that caption foreign


Hearing HQ Dec 2012 - Mar 2013

films. But this is not an ideal world. With the global transition from analogue to digital projection systems, the cinema industry around the world is now embracing closed captioning as the win-win solution for their business and patrons. A win for movie goers who require access to captioned sessions, because they can now attend every day of the week, at various times and watch a much larger range of movies. A win for cinema operators because hearing patrons who don’t require the technology can still enjoy an accessible session because closed caption technology is personalised, so the hearing patron’s experience is no different to a nonaccessible session. To caption a movie for the older style analogue technology (still used by a handful of Australian cinemas), the movie distribution companies provide a separate CD-ROM that is played simultaneously with the movie. The system projects the captions onto the screen using a separate projector. Over the years only about 25 cinemas across Australia provided open captioning on a limited number of movies, days and session times. So, the transition to a digital platform means there will more

and more choice for hearing-challenged patrons. In the not too distant future, the analogue system will become obsolete as the industry worldwide goes digital. Most new films produced for digital cinema automatically include a digital file containing captions, so now the range of captioned movies available is bigger than ever. In cinemas that have converted to digital, to view closed captions patrons are provided free-of-charge by the cinema with a small individual portable LED screen attached to a flexible arm that sits in the chair cup-holder. The screen displays the captions as three lines of high contrast, easy-to-read text. The most common closed caption system used in Australia is CaptiView, as it is compatible with the digital movie file servers the major cinema groups are installing. Because the technology does not need to be in the line of sight of a receiver, patrons are not restricted on where they can choose to sit. Most of the major cinema groups in Australia – Events (Greater Union, Birch Carroll and Coyle), Hoyts and Village – have been rapidly undergoing a digital rollout. By early 2013 they should all be fully digital and offering CaptiView. Depending on the size of the cinema, at least one screen will offer captions with up to three screens in larger complexes. This means you’ll be able to view captions for any movie being shown on that particular screen for every session, assuming that the movie is digitally captioned. Given that nearly all Hollywood movies and most Australian feature films are captioned, your choice suddenly becomes quite large. Also compared to the small number of cinemas nationally that offer open captions, with closed captions patrons will now be able to view a captioned movie at a lot more cinemas across the country. Currently there are 60 cinemas and 110 screens offering closed captions and more going live weekly. For updates visit the Media Access Australia (MAA) website. On average a cinema will stock five

Images: film strip bill2499 - Fotolia; Cinema seats - CaptiView

Summertime is all about taking it easy, long light evenings, enjoying the outdoors, festive celebrations, holidaying and time spent with family and friends. It’s also the time of year for entertainment - blockbuster movies, new TV series and theatre festivals – all in the spirit of summertime fun and relaxation. And while in the past being hearing impaired limited your choices, smart technology is now vastly improving the access and enjoyment of a night at the cinema, catching up on a favourite TV program you’ve missed or the joy of live theatre.

(D I G I T A L )

Entertainment !

Image: Aaron Amat -

CaptiView units per screen offering captions, so if you are going to see a movie with a group of hearing-impaired people it would be wise to warn your local cinema in advance to avoid disappointment. Due to the value of the CaptiView screens, although policies may vary between cinemas, patrons will be asked to leave their driver’s licence as security. For those that are into non-mainstream cinema you may have to wait a while to access closed captions. At least you have the option of subtitled foreign films! Although most new films for digital systems incorporate caption files, many of the smaller regional cinemas and independent groups still operate analogue systems. Due to the cost of upgrading to digital it may be some time before these cinemas are able to offer closed captions. Open and closed caption cinema sessions, advertised in newspapers and online, are indicated by the symbols OC and CC respectively. CATCH-UP TV / VIDEO ON DEMAND If you are out and about enjoying the summer and miss your favourite current affairs program or television series, what do you do? While broadcast captioning is fast approaching 100% on free-to-air and pay television (a requirement of legislation) and most DVDs include captioning, providers of catch-up TV and video-on-demand have been slower to deliver on captioned content online. Few people realise that both ABC iView and SBS on Demand carry captioning, while their commercial counterparts do not. For ABC iView (website and app for iPhone/ iPad), captions are provided for all primetime programs on ABC1 and ABC2. SBS on Demand provides captions for all non-live programs and most live programs. You can record captioned broadcasted television programs if you have the right equipment, so if your favourite missed program is on a commercial station

there’s no need to despair. However, not all recording equipment is able to capture the caption data as it depends on whether the device picks up the complete television output or an independent signal. If shopping around for a new recording device, make sure you check with the retailer if it records captions. If you are unsure about your current device, visit the Television Frequently Asked Questions section of the MAA website or contact them directly.

Media Access Australia is a useful resource. You can contact them via phone 02 9212 6242 web or email Traditional video formats such as DVD are quickly being outpaced by internet video download services such as iTunes, Google Play, Telstra Bigpond and FOXTEL on Demand. These allow users to purchase TV shows, movies and other content and play them on a computer, mobile device or smart TV. In Australia, access to this content for people with a sensory impairment is patchy. Currently, iTunes is the only service that makes closed captions available. Unlike broadcast television, there is no legislation to ensure captions are provided for online video. MAA estimates that 15% of videos available on iTunes offer closed captions. Internationally, the picture is much brighter. A recent court decision means that captioning of online video in the US will soon approach 100% and it is hoped that this will have a flow-on effect to Australia.

NEW APP FOR THEATRE GOERS Earlier this year an exciting innovation and world-first was released by Adelaidebased The Captioning Studio that will revolutionise the live theatre experience for those with hearing impairment. Their new app allows patrons to access theatre captions on their iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch in over 20 selected theatre venues around Australia. The app gives deaf and hearing impaired theatre goers the freedom to sit in any seat in the theatre to enjoy a captioned performance. GoTheatrical!™, the only theatre captioning technology offered across Australia, can be purchased for $1.99 from the Apple iTunes Store, allowing patrons to select the captioned performance they’re attending from a list of shows. The app means that theatre patrons now have a choice of watching traditional open captions on plasma or LCD displays fixed to the side of the stage, or closed captions on a personal device. Patrons can either bring their own device with the app already installed or borrow one from the theatre. In theatres providing iPads, these can be attached to the rear of the seat in front. For a list of GoTheatrical!™ performances and venues visit or the MAA website.


Every year technology improves by leaps and bounds and 2012 didn’t disappoint with new high performing, reliable and discreet devices that defy the laws of nature (that is moisture and electronics don't mix!) So, rather than planning around what you can't do this summer, Helen Lowy investigates the technology that give you the freedom to embrace the joys of summer living.

SUMMER Get the most out of


Hearing HQ Dec 2012 - Mar 2013

just reading the manufacturers marketing materials. There will always be differing definitions of what is waterproof versus water-resistant or splash-resistant, so it always pays to research the device that best suits your lifestyle and discuss options with your hearing professional. An independent international testing system rates equipment performance under various dust and water conditions to create a standardisation against which they can be compared. As hearing instruments are small and very delicate electronic devices, it should be noted that this rating system treats them in the same way outdoor furniture would be tested and rated. The scale that is used is the International Protection or Ingress Protection (IP) rating – the first digit evaluates ability to protect against solid particles like dust and the

second digit rates protection from liquids. The highest waterproof rating is eight, where the device has been tested against continual submersion in depths greater than one metre. A rating of seven means the devices has been tested for immersion for 30 minutes at a depth of up to one metre. A rating of four means it is splash-proof. (In terms of water protection, ratings of five or six are not relevant to hearing devices as this rates protection from water jets.) In terms of dust protection, a rating of five means the device is dustproof where insufficient quantity can enter to interfere with operation, while a rating of six means no dust can enter. On this basis, if you are water mad and want to have total peace of mind when swimming, there are two devices available in Australia that have an IPX8 rating.

Image: Surfers - Tai Gray

A hearing device that you can put on and forget about can be life changing, especially as moisture-related problems are the main reason for hearing instrument repairs and user frustration when they “die” unexpectedly. Developing more robust, waterproof devices is the obvious challenge for manufacturers as these take the stress out of the many situations faced daily where a device might get damaged by contact with unwanted moisture from the environment (humidity, rain, snow), perspiration, condensation from temperature changes and “accidental” water incidents. They also, importantly, provide parents with peace of mind. When thinking about a device to suit your hearing needs and lifestyle, it is important to understand that you may not be comparing apples with apples by

If you are considering a cochlear implant then Advanced Bionics’ IP68-rated Neptune will have you excited. Launched in August 2012, it has the world’s first fully waterproof, swimmable cochlear sound processor. Revolutionising the way a cochlear implant can be worn, the processor can be clipped to any accessory or put in a pocket and does not have to be worn behind the ear. In hearing aids, Siemens released its updated IP68-rated Aquaris in November 2012 (the original model, released in Australia in mid-2011, has an IP57 rating). The new model is completely waterproof, dustproof and shock resistant – perfect for mountain biking, walking in the rain, sailing, swimming or showering. If you want to swim with either model of the Aquaris, a custom ear mould designed specifically for that purpose is required. But, if you want to dive, Siemens recommends removing the device as even though the latest model has been designed for continuous immersion in water, sound needs air to travel and so Siemens Aquaris transmits very differently through water. Simply, the device won’t amplify when submerged. The Aquaris is offered in two performance levels suitable for mild to moderate hearing loss. When we look at water-friendly devices with an IPX7 rating, this is where definition becomes interesting. A case in point is the different position Siemens and Phonak take on what is “waterproof”. Siemens promote their original IP57 Aquaris as the “first truly waterproof digital hearing aid”. Phonak’s H2O series (in models for mild to profound hearing loss) all have an IP67 rating, yet are promoted as “water-resistant solutions” that can be safely worn to splash around in the bath or at the beach, but are not suitable for swimming. Because the IP rating is not really designed for devices like hearing aids, Phonak prefers to be conservative about the capabilities of their H2O series. While the devices will still function effectively after submersion, they prefer to take the definition of Phonak H20 Ambra

waterproof as meaning full functionality under water. Zinc air battery technology relies on oxygen to operate and it doesn’t take long for the battery to become oxygenstarved under water. So, the device will not function for long when submerged. While both devices use membrane technology that keeps water out and lets air in, Phonak describe their membrane as like a sponge that eventually gets saturated, preventing air getting through. With no air, there will be no power and no amplification while under the water (even though the device will not be damaged). Cochlear Limited’s Nucleus 5 sound processor has an IP57 rating and although not suitable for swimming it is splashresistant and features a water-resistant rechargeable battery. But, if you have a CP800 Series processor with rechargeable battery (not zinc air) you can use the new IP68-rated Nucleus Aqua Accessory for swimming. This plastic zip lock pouch protects your processor, cable and coil. Regardless of their water rating, all hearing devices need to be treated with care and properly maintained to keep them in optimum working order and prolong their life. The external casing of waterproof and water-resistant devices still need to be dried, any excess moisture shaken out, ear tubes cleared and a dehumidifier used overnight. The exciting thing about these waterfriendly devices is that despite the challenges of overcoming the battle between moisture and electronics, they don’t compromise on advanced functions and provide a variety of price and performance options. Aquaris includes Siemens’ BestSound Technology and the H2O series incorporates Phonak’s SoundRecover technology, plus a host of features for different hearing environments.

inexpensive insurance you can buy. The soft material makes your hearing instrument more comfortable to wear, protects from chaffing and minimises the effect of wind noise, as well as prevents damage from clogged microphones and corroded batteries. Ear Gear models are available in a variety of designs for different types of hearing aids, as well as cochlear implants and bone-anchored hearing aid systems. Two other products from the US are also only available online. The Hearing Aid Sweat Band™ is like a sock for behind-the-ear hearing aids that protects them from dampness, humidity, condensation, wetness due to perspiration and light rain. This inexpensive product is made from a specially designed highlyabsorbent, hypoallergenic fabric that wicks away damaging moisture, allowing it to evaporate before it is able to infiltrate the hearing aid. It also protects against damage from hairstyling products. Super Seals, made from flexible natural latex rubber, are designed to protect the hearing aid amplifier, case, controls and battery compartment from humidity, sweat, hair products and dirt, while leaving an opening for the sound to enter the microphone. It is applied with a special tool and removed when the hearing aid battery needs replacement. An alternative is to experiment making your own by cutting off the lower part of a balloon and rolling it over your hearing aid. But make sure you use a dehumidifier at night so any moisture


For the active person with hearing loss there are several accessories and techniques to make enjoying the water safer for hearing aids and cochlear implants and to help prevent moisture from becoming a barrier to better hearing. Only available for purchase online, Ear Gear sheaths for adults and children are made from water-resistant double wall spandex nylon that protects hearing instruments from dirt, sweat, moisture, as well as loss, and may be the most

that does get in doesn’t cause damage to the hearing aid. Sometimes these are not enough to keep moisture out of the microphone, like when you sweat heavily from sport, gardening or work. For those situations, wearing a terry cloth headband favoured by tennis players is recommended. Make sure it is positioned

Hearing HQ Dec 2012 - Mar 2013


Swimming with Siemens Aquaris optional custom ear mould

like calcium chloride found in products like DampRid. While more expensive initially, an electronic dehumidifier (popular brands include Cedis and Dry & Store) will provide much better moisture extraction performance. This not only helps extend the life of your hearing aid or cochlear implant, but can often save it if it accidently gets saturated or submerged. Moisture is drawn out by gentle circulated heat and absorbed by a desiccant. Select a model that allows you to dry out the desiccant in an oven or microwave so you don’t need to purchase fresh desiccant. Some models use ultra violet light to kill odour-producing bacteria.



Hearing HQ Dec 2012 - Mar 2013

over the top to hold everything in place. While this method allows for swimming and hearing at the same time, your warranty would likely be voided if it failed!


Leaving aside accidents, hearing devices are vulnerable to damage from even the smallest amount of water, even from humidity in the air and sweat, particularly in the summer. Dehumidifier kits are one of the best ways to remove moisture and prevent damage - an inexpensive investment to extend the life and reliability of your device. Audiologists recommend dehumidifiers be used nightly. Dehumidifiers, both simple and high-end, work with a desiccant like silica gel that absorbs moisture. The least costly versions (like Dri-Aid, Super Dri-Aid and Dri-Eze) consist of a sealed container, usually a pouch or jar, into which you place your device (don’t forget to remove the battery to avoid shortening its life). Sometimes the low water extraction rate may not be sufficient in very humid conditions. When selecting this type, make sure the crystals can be regenerated by heating when they are saturated and replace frequently. You can improvise and make your own dehumidifier by using a small container with a tight sealing lid. Fill with five centimetres of silica gel crystals (found in craft stores or pharmacies), cover this with a one centimetre piece of foam cut to size (this protects your device from contact with moisture and the crystals). Select a jar that is as small as possible without crushing your device. Never use a caustic desiccant

What to do if your hearing device gets soaking wet? Act quickly to minimise the damage, but never use a hairdryer or microwave! Dry the outside of the hearing aid, remove the ear mould and tube/hook and set aside. Remove the battery and leave the door open. If there are any other doors, and you know how to open them without damaging them, open them. Gently shake out any liquid still inside the hearing aid. Use an air puffer to blow out any liquid inside the ear mould and tube/hook. Place inside a dehumidifier as soon as possible. Use a similar procedure for a cochlear implant – remove what you can, open up what you can and put as much as you can into the dehumidifier. When your device dries out take it to your audiologist to have it checked. If you don’t have a dehumidifier, go to a nearby pharmacy and ask if they can give you some silica packets found inside most medicines. Prepare your device as above, place in a zip-lock bag with the silica packets (you’ll need quite a lot).


Image: Little girl - KOMUnews

so that it sits above the top of your hearing aid so it absorbs any sweat that runs down the side of your head. Cochlear implant wearers might find a headband created from a folded bandana works well against moisture as you can slide the microphone into the folds. High humidity can cause moisture to collect inside the thin ear mould tubing of your hearing aid. This will affect the acoustics of the sound entering the ear and change the pitch of what you hear. It doesn’t take much moisture to completely block the thin tubing preventing sound from entering the ear altogether. To evacuate this moisture use a small air puffer to blow it out or ask your hearing professional about tubing with a special coating inside that is designed to resist this build up of moisture. Waterproof armbands, often used for iPods or other music devices, perform wonderfully for carrying hearing aids or cochlear implants in situations where you may be soaked with water. They’re a great idea when hiking, on a snorkelling trip or at an amusement park – on a water ride just take off your hearing device, safely store it as the deluge hits and then put it back on when the ride is over. Amphibx makes an armband that is 100% waterproof to a depth of 3.6 metres. Although not entirely without risk, some cochlear implant users have created a homemade method to protect their external cochlear components when they swim. They use a waterproof zip-lock bag and then place the sealed coil and speech processor on their head with swimming cap

Hearing HQ Dec-Mar 2013



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Get the most out of summer - now you can hear while you shower, surf and swim!

The latest digital advances to enhance your summer entertainment How to avoid Swimmer's Ear & Surfer's Ear

ASK THE EXPERTS ~ Stop hearing aids whistling ~ Genetics of otosclerosis




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all about... SWIMMER'S EAR

While most ear infections during the winter are caused as a complication of a cold, summer’s hot and humid conditions and our love of the beach and pool makes painful Swimmer’s Ear (otitis externa) one of the most common summertime ear complaints. Children and teenagers typically get otitis externa as they routinely spend more time swimming and in chlorinated water during holiday periods than adults, leading to the alternative name Swimmer’s Ear. However, water from bathing and other activities can also trigger the condition. Unless you have reduced immunity or diabetes, it is rare for otitis externa to require more than antibiotic ear drops at the most. With commonsense and preventative action it can often be avoided altogether. Triggered by a combination of moisture and heat that create the ideal conditions for bacteria or fungus to grow, inflammation or infection can occur if the delicate skin of the ear canal (the passage that leads from the outer ear to the eardrum) breaks. A wet ear canal is more prone to tiny splits in the skin, particularly when combined with overzealous attempts to clean or scratch the ears using fingernails, cotton buds or other objects. Excessive moisture also alters the acidic environment of the ear canal created by earwax that protects from infection, allowing for the invasion of microorganisms. Otitis externa can also be caused by irritants like soap, bubble bath, hairspray, shampoo, hair dye or even the turpentine in wax-softening ear drops; prolonged use of earplugs and in-ear headphones; eczema

or dry skin in the ear; living in a humid climate; having very narrow ear canals that trap water; an infected hair follicle; too little earwax; or, irritation from hearing aids. The most common symptom is pain, which gradually begins over a day or two, and almost always involves only one ear. The pain is more intense when the ear is touched or pulled and when chewing. The ear canal may itch and the outer ear may be red or swollen. There may also be a discharge, which may crust at the opening of the ear canal, but fever is uncommon. Pain can be controlled with over-thecounter medications and applying heat to the affected ear, as well as staying out of the water for 5 to 7 days – something more easily said than done with children! If symptoms don’t reduce, then antibiotic ear drops may be required.


When the surf’s up and there are waves to catch it’s hard to keep a keen surfer out of the water. Seasoned surfers will no doubt know someone who suffers from Surfer’s Ear (exostosis of the ear canal). Exostosis is a benign bony growth projecting outward from a bone surface. When ears are exposed to wet, windy weather, a refrigeration effect occurs inside the ear canal promoting blood flow to the area that can result in the bony ear canal lining developing abnormal lumps of bone over time. As the ear canal narrows, water and debris get trapped behind the growths causing a feeling of fullness, a difficulty clearing water from the ear and painful recurrent, hard to treat ear infections. In severe cases the blockage created by the

Image: Mother and child by Philms

Preventing Swimmer’s Ear

• Thoroughly dry the head and ears after swimming or bathing. Tilt the head to each side allowing each ear to drain completely. Dry the ear canal with the corner of a soft towel or a hairdryer on the lowest heat and speed setting. • Both as a preventive measure and treatment non-prescription alcohol-based eardrops help to dry out the ear canal by speeding up the evaporation process. Some also contain acetic acid to create an inhospitable environment for bacteria to grow. Discuss alternatives with your pharmacist. Be aware drops are generally not recommended for children with grommets. • Never stick anything that may cause trauma into the ear canal, especially fingernails, cotton buds or sharp objects! This avoids breaking the skin, transferring infection-causing microorganisms and removing the naturally protective earwax. • Use a shower cap for bathing and earplugs while swimming to keep the ear canal dry. Cotton wool coated with petroleum jelly creates a simple and effective ear plug. • When using ear plugs ensure they are cleaned after every use so you don’t inadvertently transfer bacteria, fungi or debris that can lead to recurrent infection or transfer the infection to the other ear. • For children, insist on mandatory ear drying every 1–2 hours they are in the water.

lumps can cause conductive hearing loss. The bony growths can be surgically removed using a drill or chisel inserted via the ear canal or by making an incision behind the ear. Healing can take several weeks to months. Any further unprotected exposure can lead to regrowth of bone. Common, preventable and progressive, exostosis is not limited to surfing, affecting those who enjoy other sports like kayaking, sailing, jet skiing and diving. Nor is it restricted to cold water climates, as warm water conditions create the same evaporative cooling effect caused by wind and the presence of water in the ear canal. And, as modern wetsuit design means you can stay in the water for longer, the incidence of exostosis has increased. Exostosis generally becomes apparent around the mid-30s to late 40s, but it can develop at any age as it is directly proportional to the amount of time spent in wet, windy weather. Prevention simply involves using ear plugs to keep the ear canal as dry and warm as possible. Mouldable silicone wax ear plugs aren’t popular as they reduce hearing and impact balance. Some people swear by BluTac, but this also blocks hearing. For the best results try special vented pre-formed earplugs like Doc’s Proplugs or hi-tech custommoulded Surfplugs that create a warm pocket of air in the ear canal and keep cold water out without interfering with hearing or balance.

Hearing HQ Dec 2012 - Mar 2013


What makes HABEX Australia’s preferred supplier of hearing aid batteries and accessories?

ask the experts Do you have a question? This is the place to seek expert answers!


Can you please explain the difference between a hearing aid and a personal audio amplifier? Why would you choose one over the other? Emma Scanlan: A personal amplifier contains a microphone that picks up sound and an amplifier to make the sound louder. It usually consists of a box slightly larger than a matchbox with the components enclosed. A general rule of thumb is the larger the box, the more powerful the device. The box is usually connected to ear-bud headphones through which the amplified sound is heard. They can be useful for people who have difficulty wearing or managing conventional hearing aids or who are unable to tolerate anything inside the ear canal. They are also a good option when the device is managed by another person as the controls are large and headphones are easy to place over the ears. Usually a personal amplifier will have a volume control that can be adjusted by the wearer – but unlike hearing aids they are not set up to match the individual’s specific hearing loss. Often personal amplifiers can be plugged directly into other devices such as the television. They can be a good solution if a simple, easy to manage device is required. They are usually fitted instead of hearing aids but can also be used with hearing aids via the telecoil*.


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* A telecoil is a special circuit inside some types of hearing aids. It is designed to turn off the hearing aid microphone, pick up an electromagnetic signal and convert this to sound, cancelling out any background noise. Also known as audio induction loops, they can often be found in public places like churches, railway stations and theatres.


I have a family history of otosclerosis and am hoping you can shed some light on the genetics of the condition for my descendants. Melville da Cruz: Otosclerosis is one of the most common causes


of acquired hearing loss. The incidence of histologic* otosclerosis (that seen at post mortem or on CT scanning) of 2.5% seems to be the same for most populations and with no difference between the sexes. However, the incidence of clinical otosclerosis (causing hearing impairment that requires stapedectomy surgery, a hearing aid or in very extreme cases, a cochlear implant) is much lower and differs between different ethnic groups, races and the genders. It is rare in Africans, Orientals and South Americans, and more frequent in populations of European origin where the prevalence is about 0.4%. It is more frequent in women with a female to male ratio of 2:1. In about 85% of people with clinical otosclerosis the hearing loss is bilateral with the remainder having hearing loss in only one ear. The familial nature of clinical otosclerosis was first reported in 1861. A twin study reported in 1966 found the presence of clinical otosclerosis in nearly all 40 pairs of identical twins, supporting the early hypotheses that otosclerosis had a genetic basis. Numerous studies on families with otosclerosis suggested that the pattern of inherence was autosomal dominant (meaning you only need to get the abnormal gene from one parent in order for you to inherit the condition). But with the proportion of individuals carrying the abnormal gene ranging from 25-40% the impression was given that hearing loss in otosclerotic families might skip a generation. Although a strong family history exists in many patients with otosclerotic hearing loss, about 4050% of cases are sporadic with no family history. When all past and new data concerning the occurrence of clinical otosclerosis is examined, it seems like the genetic basis of the disease is complex and the expression of the associated hearing loss is dependent on multiple factors including those in the environment

Emma Scanlan Principal Audiologist Australian Hearing

(oestrogens, fluoride, viral infections). Studies are underway to shed light on the genetic base diseases that are associated with hearing loss and the various forms of inheritance that lead to both histological and clinical otosclerosis. Hopefully this will allow individuals, families and their treating doctors to further understand the risk to both this generation and their children of developing otosclerotic hearing loss in one or both of their ears. * Histology is the study of the microscopic anatomy of cells and tissues of plants and animals.


How can I access a volume control phone? I have a phone where I can increase the volume of the ringtone but I would like to be able to increase the volume of people’s voices when they call. Roberta Marino: As a start, if your phone has a speakerphone option try using that instead of holding the phone close to your ear – many people find they hear the caller better that way. Also talk to your audiologist about options that could work with your current hearing aid or implant system. Many modern hearing aids are Bluetooth-compatible and can be configured to communicate directly with your landline phone and mobile phone so that the voice of the person you are speaking with can be transmitted directly to your hearing device/s. If you are a Telstra customer, you may be eligible for a free volume control phone through their Disability Equipment Service. They offer a variety of equipment for the hearing


Associate Professor Melville da Cruz Cochlear Implant Surgeon

impaired including phones; teletypewriters (TTYs) for text-to-text conversation with other TTY users or text-to-voice calls using the National Relay Service (NRS); a visual ringer alert; and, a cochlear implant adaptor. Have a talk to your audiologist about the brilliant free National Relay Service that is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week via internet or TTY. An NRS officer will even visit you at home or work to train you. A volume control phone can also be purchased through an Australian company called Oricom. Their phone includes an inbuilt telecoil. A telecoil system can often assist hearing aid and cochlear implant wearers to attain a clearer signal on the telephone. As far as I know, they also have the one and only mobile phone with an inbuilt telecoil system. Your audiologist can give you more information about the telecoil system.


My friend has high-frequency hearing loss and wears a hearing aid in both ears. When I lean in to kiss her cheek, one or both of her hearing aids often whistle. She doesn’t notice it, but it drives me mad. What can be done to stop the whistle? Roberta Marino: The whistling or feedback heard when coming in close contact with the hearing aid is a normal phenomenon. It is a result of some of the amplified sound of the hearing aid leaking out from around the hearing aid mould that sits in the opening of the ear canal or the soft domes that are worn within the ear canal. This “leaked” amplified sound then bounces back into the hearing aid, especially when it is in contact with a nearby surface, in this case your face. There are a number of reasons why hearing aids can be prone to whistling. If there is excess wax in the ear canal the


Roberta Marino Senior Audiologist Specialist Hearing Services

amplified sound directed into the ear canal “hits” the wax and then bounces around the ear mould and into the hearing aid’s microphone. So, it may be worth having the ear/s cleaned by a doctor. If the fit of the hearing aid or the hearing aid mould is too loose, the amplified sound leaks out and bounces back into the microphone – often a new, better fitting mould can solve this problem. In some cases a longer mould is the solution and in others a shorter mould can be better. A temporary solution is the use of a non-allergenic gel such as Auragel that coats the hearing aid mould or hearing aid shell and can help reduce the whistling by reducing the amount of sound that can leak between the hearing aid and the skin of the ear canal. Do not apply the gel to the sound bore or mould opening where the sound is emitted, as this could damage the hearing aid, as well as block the sound. Although highly unlikely if the hearing aid has been fitted by an audiologist, whistling will occur if the hearing aid is over-amplified in the higher frequencies, so it is worth mentioning the problem to your audiologist/audiometrist. Also, if your friend has a severe or profound hearing loss, it can be very difficult to stop this whistling completely because she will require significant amplification and, often no matter how good the hearing aid feedback cancellation system is, there will be a greater chance that sound will escape back into the microphone. In general, the newer hearing aids available now have better feedback cancellation systems, so whistling is less of a problem than it used to be.

Send your questions to: Hearing HQ Magazine Experts PO Box 649 Edgecliff NSW 2027 or

Hearing HQ Dec 2012 - Mar 2013


column Yvonne Keane, Australia's Pocket Rocket, is passionate about family, community, early intervention and making a difference.

Summer is upon us! And with it comes sunshine, laughter and, of course, splashing around to cool down. Water safety always presents challenges to parents. How do you best introduce your child to the pleasures of swimming with both confidence and a healthy understanding of its dangers? For a mother of a child with a hearing impairment, there is the added element of just how you communicate with an unaided child while in the water? While I am fortunate that my son’s residual hearing is reasonable, I can only imagine how difficult it is for parents of children who have implants or a more severe hearing loss. One of my friends, whose son is implanted, has taught him sign language specifically to communicate while in the pool or bath. With waterproof technology fast emerging for hearing devices, it is my hope that soon our kids will be able to enjoy a swim or even a bath or shower without limitation. After a recent holiday highlighted the need to be able to better communicate with my 3 ½ year old son Asher while he’s in the water, I discovered that Siemens’ Aquaris is the first truly waterproof hearing aid. While it has great sound quality and is tiny enough for a preschooler to wear, it is not yet available as a fully subsidised option to parents. Currently one will set you back a couple of thousand dollars. While for many parents such as me this cost puts it out of our reach, I hope that one day very soon waterproof devices will become freely available. What a wonderful world it will be when all hearing impaired children can enjoy the full sensory experience of being immersed in a cool cocoon of water on a hot summer day! Life will be good indeed!


Hearing HQ Dec 2012 - Mar 2013



A PORTRAIT OF TENACITY Just when you are thinking life is too tough, take a moment to reflect on the extraordinary achievements of one humble Melbourne mother who, with profound hearing loss from birth and no formal schooling, has not only raised five daughters; but taught herself to read and write; earned multiple university degrees; represented Australia in swimming; is a champion surf life saver; teacher of the deaf; and, assistant school principal. Her next goal is a PhD! Joanne Davis was born in the early 1950s when any form of disability carried a stigma. Although she attended Australia’s first preschool for deaf children, the Princess Elizabeth Kindergarten in Melbourne, her hearing issue was never properly addressed and she got lost in the mainstream primary school system. She eventually attended a school for deaf children where she was “prepared for occupation”, learning to lip read and play sport, but never gained any formal education and had no literacy skills. At 15, her first work placement was as a typist, then for nine years she worked as a key punch operator with the RACV. A keen swimmer as a teen, Joanne would get up at 4am, ride her bike to the pool to train and then return after school. It was her way of coping with isolation. She recalls, “My mother had been trying to protect me from joining the Deaf community.” But at 16, she defied her mother after bumping into a deaf girl at the pool she knew from preschool. Her new friend took her to a deaf swimming carnival - her first introduction to the Deaf community. The carnival was a selection trial for the Australian Deaf Games. Joanne was selected for the Victorian team and won multiple medals, resulting in her selection to represent Australia at the World Deaf Games in Romania. So at 17 she learned sign language – her new friends “guided me to accept who I am”. On the weekends Joanne taught swimming and enrolled in courses to learn coaching in depth. “I didn’t even think about literacy, I just learned through visual demonstrations and the exams were open book.” One day a parent asked her if she had ever thought about teaching as a career. She approached a PE teacher for the deaf she knew but was told she’d never succeed. This negative prediction motivated Joanne to prove the teacher wrong. With the help of a social worker at VicDeaf, at 24 she applied for a Bachelor of Applied Science (Physical Education) degree. It took eight years to complete - she not only had to teach herself to read and write but to learn mathematics. Joanna says she has been blessed with support from wonderful people who encouraged her to follow her dream and never give up. Her motto has been to ask for guidance. But, one must also “try the advice and if it doesn’t work, try something else, but stay on your dream path”. The first week she started university, a fellow student helping her take notes in Philosophy class realised the challenges she was facing with comprehension. “I didn’t even know what the word ‘essay’ meant,” Joanne recalls. This friend helped her find a retired secondary school principal to teach her to read and write and aided by a dictionary she began to understand definitions. When she started Biology and Physiology her lecturer was “flabbergasted when I told him I had never learned maths”. He helped her find a teacher and she enrolled to study general mathematics at TAFE. “I ended up gaining Honours in Psychology and Statistics and a couple of Distinctions as well!” Today, Joanne has a Graduate Diploma in Secondary Teaching, a Graduate Diploma in Special Education (Hearing Impaired) and recently a Masters in School Leadership. The first to teach Victorian Certificate of Education Auslan when it was introduced into mainstream schools in the '90s, Joanne has taught sports to deaf/hearing impaired students in mainstream classes and extracurricular programs, and acted as an interpreter in PE, maths, technology and vocational education classes. For the past

STORIES... LEADING THE WAY three years she has been assistant principal of the deaf education centre at Mount Erin College in Frankston. When Joanne's daughters were at nippers she took up surf lifesaving and has been actively involved ever since taking up open water swimming in her 40s. “I love swimming in the ocean more than the pool.” She coaches nippers, does beach patrol, officiates at carnivals and competes in state and national competitions including the World Masters Surf Lifesaving Championship. “I always assumed hearing aids were the best thing to hear everything, but I was wrong,” says Joanne of her experience with cochlear implants. She had her first implant seven years ago and a second one three years later. “I’ve found so much confidence in being able to interact with hearing people and be part of the leadership team at work and more involved in community service.” She loves being able to hear the different kinds of waves and her dog panting, but especially the sound of her students writing on paper. “When I’m down at the beach, the first thing I do is listen to the waves and identify their behaviour before I take my speech processor off." HQ

No challenge has ever seemed to prevent Jack Kelly of Dicky Beach on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast from living a normal life. Profoundly deaf due to a viral infection, at two he was the youngest person in Australia to receive a cochlear implant and at 11, the first Australian to have bilateral cochlear implants. Never having been a nipper, Jack didn’t learn the basics of surf rescue as a little kid. But, at 18 he did become vicecaptain of his surf patrol – an impressive achievement given he also had to re-learn how to hear. A keen athlete, Jack joined Dicky Beach Surf Club when his family moved to the area. According to mum Sue, "The younger kids started nippers and Jack decided he wanted to do his Bronze [medallion]." So, after receiving the club’s approval, he quickly completed his training, began patrolling and attaining his first aid and inflatable rescue boat crew certificates and general boat and all-terrain vehicle licences. When Jack started patrolling, he was doing so profoundly deaf as he could not wear his slowly failing implants, one of which had been in his head since he was two and was covered in bone growth. Although implants had worked for him before, there were no guarantees replacement implants were going to work. "You can't tell if the operation is successful until the implant is actually switched on and that does not happen for about a week after the operation. Thankfully I could hear sounds immediately, which slowly turned into words." The new implants with more sophisticated technology made all the words sound different to those Jack had become used to. "I had to go back to doing a lot of listening exercises every day until I could understand what I was hearing, but it's all good now." Despite being warned of some balance issues after the operation, Jack learned to surf and loves hitting the water with his dad and siblings on the weekend. During the week he works as a carpenter and hopes to soon have his building licence. HQ

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Deafining Moments Daniela Andrews is a Melbourne writer who lost her hearing to an autoimmune condition at 27. She was fitted with two cochlear implants a few years later. I’m what I like to think of as Careful. When you’ve inherited a Klutz gene, you kind of have to be. Obviously, there are times when Klutz takes over. Like when I slam my shoulder into the same hallway door every night. Or fall down flights of concrete steps and need 12 stitches across my eyebrow. But generally, I try and over-ride Klutz by being Careful. Being Careful takes planning. We recently planned a trip to Hamilton Island. I bought a 48-page exercise book to contain all my lists. The ‘checked-in packing’ list. The ‘carry-on packing’ list. The ‘to-do’ list. The ‘list of lists I need’ list. The list goes on. (Did I just hear you groan?) I wanted to make sure I didn’t forget anything. I call this Careful. My husband calls it Anal. But with only two weeks to go, I realised that I hadn’t planned for a way to protect my sound processors around the water. And I very much wanted to be in the water with my toddler when he swam for the first time. Hear his squeals of delight. His splashes. Giggles. I scratched my head. I needed to find a way to be Careful around the water. I wear semi water-resistant Nucleus 5s but that doesn’t mean I’m comfortable with them falling off in the water. So I ordered myself a custom-made headband. The day it arrived, I put it on immediately to try and get used to it. My processors sat inside the head band, away from my ears, and were securely contained inside a small pocket. They weren’t going anywhere. I’d chosen a white band with small blue flowers on it, which I thought looked quite fashionable. My husband gave me a funny look when he got home. I gave him my best cheesy smile while I waited for his compliment. He paused, thinking madly, then settled for, “you look like one of those cartoon bears that’s had their head bandaged.” But never mind how it looked … it worked! I was able to confidently swim above the water, and I even got to hear all those toddler sounds! (Although there was more crying going on than giggling. Turns out I hadn’t planned on my toddler being afraid of the water.) But all was well. I sighed happily as I started to pack up my son’s bath toys on our last night on the island. I’d gotten through our holiday without any water mishaps. Being Careful had won out this time. I could relax now. And that’s when I accidentally squirted myself square in the face with his lion bath squirter. (Did I mention I’m a Klutz?)

books 'n blogs

Finding great books about children who are deaf or hard of hearing can be difficult. Many books are out of date with current technology or are targeted to an adult audience. Here is a great selection of books for children with hearing loss. Nobody's Perfect by Marlee Matlin and Doug Cooney is a companion to Deaf Child Crossing. Megan is deaf and attends a mainstream school with an interpreter. She is thrilled to have a "perfectly purple" birthday party. She is disheartened when the new girl in class, Alexis, declines her invitation. Megan soon discovers the truth behind Alexis' refusal to attend her party and uses her knowledge of sign language to help build a friendship with the new girl in school. Elana's Ears by Gloria Roth Lowell. Lacey is a very happy dog, but feels a little displaced when baby Elana comes home. When Lacey tries to teach Elana to bark, she soon realizes that Elana has difficulty hearing. Lacey vows to become the best "big sister" in the world-in addition to becoming Elana's ears.

Cosmo Gets an Ear by Gary Clemente. What happens when a little boy has trouble hearing? This book follows the young Cosmo through the hearing tests, learning about hearing aids, and the discovery of many new sounds with his new ears.

Rally Caps by Stephen J. Cutler and Jodi Cutler Del Dottore. A chapter book for slightly older children, ten year old Jordan is injured while trying out for his Little League team. Jordan is fearful of returning to baseball, until he meets an inspiring deaf friend at summer camp. Luca has a cochlear implant and has a wonderful "nothing is impossible" attitude. Can You Hear a Rainbow? The Story of a Deaf Boy Named Chris by Jamie Riggio Heelan. Chris is a ten year old boy and uses a variety of communication modalities. This realistic picture book describes how Chris uses speech reading, sign language and hearing aids to communicate.


Hearing HQ Dec 2012 - Mar 2013


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Hearing HQ Dec 2012 - Mar 2013


here to help

There are many not-for-profit organisations around Australia and government agencies that provide valuable support, advice and information on hearing issues. Please visit to find out more about any of these organisations and to link directly to their websites. INFORMATION & SERVICES ACT Deafness Resource Centre - Canberra Information, referral and advocacy services T 02 6287 4393 TTY 02 6287 4394 F 02 6287 4395 Audiological Society of Australia Inc Information on national audiological services T 03 9416 4606 F 03 9416 4607

Tinnitus SA Impartial tinnitus information and options T 1300 789 988

RIDBC Hear The Children Centre - Sydney Early childhood intervention for hearing impaired T 1300 581 391 F 02 9871 2196

Vicdeaf Advice and support for VIC deaf adults T 03 9473 1111 TTY 03 9473 1199 F 03 9473 1122

RIDBC Matilda Rose Centre - Sydney Early childhood intervention for hearing impaired T 02 9369 1423 F 02 9386 5935


Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children (RIDBC) Hearing and vision impaired education & services T & TTY 1300 581 391 F 02 9871 2196

Australian Government Hearing Services Program Government assistance eligibility information T 1800 500 726 TTY 1800 500 496

Acoustic Neuroma Association of Australia Support and information on treatment T 03 9510 1577 TTY 03 9510 3499 F 03 9510 6076

Australian Hearing Australian Government audiology clinics T 131 797 TTY 02 9412 6802 F 02 9413 3362

Aussie Deaf Kids Online parent support and forum

Better Health Channel VIC Govt funded health & medical information

Australian Tinnitus Association (NSW) - Sydney Support, information & counselling services T 02 8382 3331 F 02 8382 3333

Deaf Can:Do (formerly Royal SA Deaf Society) Services to SA deaf and hearing impaired T 08 8223 3335 TTY 08 8223 6530 F 08 8232 2217

Better Hearing Australia (BHA) Hearing advice by letter, email or in person T 1300 242 842 TTY 03 9510 3499 F 03 9510 6076

Deafness Foundation Research, education & technology support T & TTY 03 9738 2909 F 03 9729 6583

BHA Tinnitus Self Help/Support Group -TAS Support group for those with tinnitus T 03 6244 5570

Ear Science Institute Australia Help with ear, balance & associated disorders T 08 6380 4900 F 08 6380 4901

CICADA Australia Inc Support for people considering cochlear implants

Guide Dogs SA.NT Adelaide based aural rehabilitation service T 1800 484 333 TTY 08 8203 8391 F 08 8203 8332

Deaf Children Australia Services for hearing impaired children T 1800 645 916 TTY 03 9510 7143 F 03 9525 2595

HEARnet - a better understanding of hearing loss & interactive ear diagram. T 03 9035 5347

Hear For You Mentoring hearing impaired teens

Lions Hearing Dogs Australia Provide hearing dogs and training to recipients T 08 8388 7836 TTY 08 8388 1297

Meniere’s Australia Dizziness & balance disorders support T 1300 368 818 F 03 9783 9208

National Relay Service Helpdesk Telephone access service for hearing impaired M-F 9am-5pm, Sydney time SMS 0416 001 350 T 1800 555 660 TTY 1800 555 630 F 1800 555 690

Self Help for Hard of Hearing People (Aus) Inc Educational association T 02 9144 7586 F 02 9144 3936

Parents of Deaf Children - NSW Unbiased information, support and advocacy T 02 9871 3049 TTY 02 9871 3193 F 02 9871 3193 Sydney Cochlear Implant Centre T 02 9844 6800 F 02 9844 6811 Telecommunications Disability Equipment Contact information for special phones: Telstra 1800 068 424 TTY 1800 808 981 F 1800 814 777 Optus 133 301 937 TTY 1800 500 002 The Deaf Society of NSW Information & services to NSW Deaf people T 1800 893 855 TTY 1800 893 885 F 1800 898 333 SMS 0427 741 420 The Royal Victorian Eye & Ear Hospital Melbourne cochlear implant centre T 03 9929 8666 TTY 03 9929 8052 F 03 9663 7203

Tinnitus Association of Victoria Support group for tinnitus sufferers T 03 9770 6075 EDUCATION Can:Do 4Kids - Adelaide Programs for deaf, blind & sensory impaired kids T 08 8298 0900 TTY 08 8298 0960 F 08 8377 1933 Catherine Sullivan Centre - Sydney Early intervention for hearing impaired children T 02 9746 6942 F 02 9764 4170 Cora Barclay Centre - Adelaide Auditory-Verbal Therapy for 0-19 year olds T 08 8267 9200 F 08 8267 9222 Hear and Say Centres - QLD Early intervention and cochlear implants T 07 3870 2221 F 07 3870 3998

Taralye Oral Language Centre - Melbourne Early childhood intervention & advocacy T 03 9877 1300 F 03 9877 1922 Telethon Speech & Hearing - Perth Early intervention program and specialist paediatric audiology services T 08 9387 9888 F 08 9387 9889 The Shepherd Centre - NSW & ACT Early intervention and cochlear implants T 1800 020 030 F 02 9351 7880 ADVOCACY & ACCESS SERVICES ACT Deafness Resource Centre T 02 6287 4393 TTY 02 6287 4394 F 02 6287 4395 Arts Access Victoria/Deaf Arts Network T 03 9699 8299 TTY 03 9699 7636 F 03 9699 8868 Australian Communication Exchange (ACE) T 07 3815 7600 TTY 07 3815 7602 F 07 3815 7601 Cap that! Captioned for Learning Deafness Council Western Australia Inc T & SMS 0488 588 863 Deafness Forum of Australia T 02 6262 7808 TTY 02 6262 7809 Deaf Sports Australia T 03 9473 1191 TTY 03 9473 1154 F 03 9473 1122 Media Access Australia T 02 9212 6242 F 02 9212 6289 NMIT Centre of Excellence Vocational Education T 03 9269 1200 F 03 9269 1484 OTHER EARtrak - Help improve hearing aid standards T 03 5174 0699 F 03 5174 8267 Hearing Aid Bank - donate old hearing aids T 1300 242 842 TTY 03 9510 3499 F 03 9510 6076 Planet Ark - Find a battery recycler near you JobAccess Disabilities workplace solutions T 1800 464 800 TTY 1800 464 800 F 08 9388 7799

To have your organisation considered for listing please email (you must be a not-for-profit, charity or completely free service)


Hearing HQ Dec 2012 - Mar 2013

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Enjoy the sound of life. The new Ace. Hearing at its best. So tiny, the secret is all yours.

Hearing HQ Dec12-Mar13  

The only independent source of information on all the technology available to improve your hearing and quality of life.

Hearing HQ Dec12-Mar13  

The only independent source of information on all the technology available to improve your hearing and quality of life.