- Information for the Hearing Impaired Amateur -
The QRP mailings lists, QRP-L & QRP-Canada, have had a number of posts lately which pertain to amateur radio operators who have to wear hearing aid(s) for one reason or another. Several of these posts have appeared which gave me the idea of having a page on my web site that provides information which describes the various ways amateurs are handling not having perfect or near perfect hearing.
For now, I will simply be adding information to this page as it becomes available through the mailing lists as e-mail. Hopefully we can all share tips on handling this problem and help each other out.
(1) - Bruce, VE5RC+VE5QRP - my own situation showed up in a typical way, feedback and observations from my family several years ago when I was in my 50s. This lead to a frequency run being done on my ears in a hearing laboratory. The results came in which indicated that hearing aids would help me hear better. Prior to this, when I first noticed a loss, I was checked out and had ear surgery during which a piece of teflon was attached to the drum of my right ear to restore some hearing. I had an approximately 15 db loss in both ears. The analog aids cost $250.00 Cdn each. Today's price for them is double. Digital aids are also available now and can cost up to $1400.00 Cdn each. This is through a government run program. The private hearing aid companies prices are higher, I am told.
So for a number of years now, my practise has been to wear one aid in my right ear for most of the time. Usually when I have both hearing aids in, the result is too much audio. My left ear has a better hearing capability than my right ear. From time to time, the aid in my right ear needs adjustment, repair or replacement; such as the time I accidently left it in my clothing in the washing machine. That translated into a replacement unit for $50.00 Cdn but it's probably more costly now; maybe $100.00.
When I am listening to amateur radio over the rig's speaker, I wear my right hearing aid. But more often, I wear a pair of ear buds and take the hearing aid out. Just about 2 months ago, I had another frequency run done and my hearing loss has increased a little bit. That's when I learned about the tremendous increases in the prices. Sometimes I wear headphones and again I just take my hearing aid out.
(2) - Bob, WA2HOQ, writes the following. "Today they can make you hear and even make you hear things you don't want to hear :-) I know a ham who has 100% no hearing but works CW by placing the head phones on the bones behind the ear.When I did a lot of hang gliding I had a BONE RADIO (still have it today). You tuned in the station you wanted and place each speaker just below the coller bone on each side. The sound travelled through my neck into the back of my head and I flew all day listening to music. My hearing is not good and my left ear is 67% shot and my good ear is a bit more than 30% loss from the testing I had. I still use head phones but I keep them slid back above the opening of the ear. I'm not a doctor but if you lost it that fast it sounds like some sort of infection."
(3) - Rich, WB9LPU, writes "Sorry to bring up an old thread, but it started me thinking. I have been using the Spectrogram program (www.visualizationsoftware.com/gram.html) to look at signals as I receive them. Not only do you get to look at all of the signals within your bandpass, you can check the setup of your filters and tune much more sharply. As a bonus, scrolling across the top of the screen is a very readable record of what you have been receiving (or sending). It turns out to be pretty easy to copy the code visually as well as audibly. The program is shareware and has a useful demo version. Hope this helps with this problem."
(4) - Jake, AB3A - Bone Conduction headsets - "Y'know this idea keeps resurfacing in different places. I remember, right about the time when the first Walkman radios came out, there was another radio that sort of went around your neck like a towel. It had left and right speakers right under your ears, with some sort of plate conduction to put sound right in to your shoulder and neck. This yielded very good base reproduction. Now they're playing with bone conduction near the ears. I wonder if the old patent ran out and now they're exploiting the technology..."