Like fingerprints, hearing is uniquely individual. The same is true for hearing loss. Just as you may not be able to use someone else’s eyeglasses, your hearing aid programming has little value for any other person’s hearing loss.

That individuality also makes hearing aids hard to program. While your loss can be measured, setting up hearing aids so that you’re comfortable can sometimes involve educated guesswork.

Now, live speech mapping brings the way you actually hear into the picture. At Hearing & Balance Services of Reston, we are pleased to offer live speech mapping as part of your hearing evaluation and hearing aid programming.

Your hearing

Human hearing is a complex system that involves the conversion of sound waves in the air to mechanical motion at the eardrum and bones of the middle ear, with a further conversion to tiny electrical charges in the cochlea, which your brain then translates into sound. When any part of that system becomes disrupted, hearing loss may result.

Your brain, however, is a remarkably powerful and adaptive processor. If you’re like many people, you first discovered you had hearing loss because those around you pointed out what you were missing. Your brain adapts to changing hearing so effectively, you may not be aware you’ve lost hearing unless yours was unusually sudden. The same holds true for many of the estimated 37 million adult Americans who also have hearing loss.

What is live speech mapping?

Because of this complexity, hearing assessment isn’t as simple as measuring your ears and prescribing hearing aids based on data. Your brain is used to interpreting your compromised hearing. Listening with assistive devices can seem harsh, unnatural, and tiring, even though you’re now receiving audio that compensates for your personal hearing loss.

Live speech mapping takes this adaptive discrepancy into account. Once you’re assessed and fitted with hearing aids, live speech mapping helps to verify the programming of your aids to provide you with the frequencies you need in a way that’s more comfortable and adaptable for your brain to process.

Your audiologist places tiny microphones inside your ears with your hearing aids. These measure the sound output from the aids to give her practical information about adapting your programming to your personal preferences. These results can be displayed on a monitor so you can see and participate in the adjustments.

The surprising benefits of live speech mapping

This method of verifying your hearing aid programming brings an important player into the process — your brain — permitting some surprising benefits over conventional assessments and fittings:

  • Accuracy: you’ll need fewer adjustment appointments to fine tune your hearing aid programming
  • Accessibility: since you’re involved in the process and able to hear changes immediately, you won’t need to struggle to explain your hearing aid experience
  • Interaction: a friend or family member whose voice you’re familiar with could be part of the process, connecting results in the clinic with the real world
  • Participation: you’ll have a real sense of involvement with your hearing aid fitting, rather than simply accepting the programming you’re given

Too often in the past, hearing aids were set aside and forgotten due to the sudden changes restored hearing brought. Live speech mapping provides a way to help your brain adapt more easily to assisted listening. Contact Hearing & Balance Services of Reston to arrange your consultation, and find out what you’ve been missing.