KidsAudiologist

Archive for the ‘assitive listening devices’ Category

The Hear Glue Ear app, created by a Cambridge Paediatrician Dr Tamsin Brown, won ‘Children’s App of the Year’ at the UK App Awards last month.Children with glue ear often have long periods of time with mild-moderate deafness during the critical stages for speech and language development (for example, during the ‘watch and wait’ period in the care pathway, whilst waiting for hearing aid fitting or grommet surgery, when hearing aids or grommets are not available, suitable or acceptable to the family for some reason). Pressures on NHS and education services mean that there is very limited support during these periods. The app was developed by Cambridge Digital Health and funded by the Cambridge Hearing Trust for families to use during these times. It includes:

  • Information and advice for families on glue ear, it’s effects, and what you can do to help overcome the temporary hearing loss during the watch and wait period
  • The ability to upload the child’s speech and language plan to work from
  • Links and suggestions of other resources to directly help the children
  • Free audiobooks and games that encourage reading together and working on certain developmental skills
  • A hearing game (level monitor) that gives parents an idea of how their child’s hearing is today if it tends to fluctuate
  • The ability to open access to your child’s records/notes within the app to a professional by entering their email address

The app can be downloaded free here and you can read more about the app and research here

Congratulations to Dr Brown and her team on winning this award for a really innovative approach to helping children with glue ear. Before the awards ceremony her daughter Lilac, 9 years old, explained how her mum came up with headphones and the app to help her hear when she had glue ear:

“I am going to the app awards in London and I am so excited. My mum made an app to help children with ear problems like mine.

When I was little I got ear ache every month. Then mum noticed that I  couldn’t hear some of the words because I was missing letters. Mum took me to have a hearing test.

I couldn’t hear very well, at that time I was in playgroup.

Mum said I had glue ear. I  couldn’t hear for a year before I had a grommet operation.

The grommet operation did help and was fine but I got more ear aches afterwards.

When the grommets came out, I got a hole in my ear drum for another year. That didn’t help my hearing either.

Mum thought I needed a operation because there was a hole in my ear but soon it got better all by itself.

Everyone was surprised because it’s not often an ear drum gets itself better like that when there is so much happening with your ear.

Mum noticed that when I got a cold or an ear-ache I asked “what” some of the time and got words wrong. For example I loved collecting conkers but I called them “onkers”, I didn’t really notice people were saying the ‘c’ at the beginning.

I started school and I wasn’t that good at reading because If I asked the grown-ups what the word was maybe I wouldn’t hear it right. It also makes spelling difficult.

It’s really difficult when children can’t hear because we don’t want to argue with the teachers or other adults. Because if we accidentally hear a word wrong and then say it then the teacher might think we have said the wrong thing and tell you off. I remember once I thought the teacher said to get my  lunch box, and I walked out of class, she hadn’t said that, so I got into trouble. It was because I was looking away for a second when she was talking. I am more deaf when I am not concentrating on the teacher.

It’s hardest to hear when I’m in a crowded place in public. And that is when I would most like to have a headset.

Mum didn’t want children to have a hard time at school and at home like I did. So mum found some headphones that you can Bluetooth to a microphone so that you can hear the teacher better at school [the cost is £100-150 and can be trialled from NDCS] . Or you Bluetooth the headphones to Mum’s app. If you use the app you get stories, songs and games which makes it fun and it helps your listening  and it helps you to not fall behind with your learning.

Mum says children don’t want to fall behind when they have glue ear. I think Mum’s right and I think I also want people to have better hearing.

The app that Mum created is called Hear Glue Ear. When I saw it, mum said I could look at it and change anything. I helped mum to make it better and better and better, and so did all my family and other families and children who had glue ear.

It’s a lot of work and usually I have to wait while mum is doing a meeting and I have to be super super quiet. 

Now my glue ear has gone,  I still have a little bit of hearing loss in one ear,  but it’s only a problem now and then.

One day mum got asked to go to a conference in Australia. She didn’t want to leave us at home, so we went and had a lovely holiday. I did feel bad for her working, but I knew if she went to this conference it would not only give us a nice holiday but it might save children’s hearing. When she was there someone else asked her to go to Sweden for a different conference, so then we went to Sweden on holiday the following year. It’s because she is such an amazing doctor.

On a plane journeys it helps me when I can suck sweets otherwise my ears are really bad and it lasts for 2 days.

The app got asked to come to London so that it can win children’s best app [Hear Glue Ear app has been shortlisted for Children’s app of the year at the UK app awards ceremony in London on November 26th]. I get to go to London with Mummy and hopefully I can get to see her win the children’s best app award.

To other children who have glue ear remember it’s the glue ear that’s difficult and not you. And could you cross your fingers my mummy wins the best app award.

Love Lilac”

Hearing aid wearers are most familiar with their ‘T’ switch to help them hear better in public places fitted with loop systems, such as churches, theatres, banks and post offices. These aren’t situations we generally consider as being very relevant to children and young people but a new generation of assistive devices have the potential to make hearing aids ‘cool’, improve their listening experience, and increase opportunities for language and social development.

Induction loop technology
Induction loop technology is the oldest of the wireless technologies and works with a telecoil, which has been a standard feature in NHS hearing aids for many years. Room loops help overcome some limitations of hearing aids and reduce the negative effects of distance and background noise, improving the signal-to-noise ratio and reducing listening effort for the wearer.

During the analogue era of hearing aids the telecoil was always available and a visual MTO switch meant that wearers were prompted to ask questions about it or go out and research it even if the audiologist didn’t directly tell them about it’s use. New and innovative products which use magnetic induction technology are making mainstream products more accessible to deaf children enabling them to share experiences with their hearing friends. These include inductive earhooks, neckloops and Bluetooth streamers with neckloops. These products allow a child wearing a hearing aid to listen to mobile phones or an entertainment device, such as an iPod, MP3 player, laptop or portable games console.

Modern digital hearing aids now have multiple programme capability but the telecoil setting must be activated. The wearer must be able to reliably change programmes as there is no visual indicator the ‘T’ setting is being used. Our experience at NDCS is that the majority of children and young people attending our events or visiting the Listening Bus do not know what the telecoil is and do not have it activated and so are unable to try out equipment that could be of benefit.

Deaf children and young people asking for more information
In 2007 NDCS carried out a consultation with nearly 1500 children and young people aged nine to 18. The results found significant numbers of children and young people in both the younger and older age groups wanted more information on deafness and the technologies that can support them.

Download the full article – Telecoils – making hearing aids cool for kids? – that was published in March 2013 in the UK edition of Audio Infos magazine to answer some common questions we get asked:

  • Using loop technology with children
  • Not deaf enough for a ‘T’ setting?
  • Too young for a ‘T’ setting?
  • Too hard explaining the technical information to a child?
  • Worried about noise interference?
  • T or M/T?
  • They already have an personal FM system. Isn’t that better?
  • I don’t feel confident recommending assistive listening products?

One more tool in their toolbox!
Loop technology has moved out of dusty meeting halls and has become very relevant to deaf children and young people. At the same time deaf children and young people are reporting that they need more information about both deaf and mainstream technologies and how they can access these. New technologies are making mainstream products more accessible to deaf children enabling them to enjoy the same communication, music, and entertainment devices as their hearing peers. Telecoils are one more tool for children, with the potential to enhance their language, educational and social development.

Further information

For information on the wide range of products and equipment that might be helpful for deaf children at home, at school or when socialising with friends, as well as information on the using the free Technology Test Drive to trial new equipment head to NDCS here.

Telecoils – making hearing aids cool for kids? (Audio Infos, Mar 2013)

Can Kids Benefit From Hearing Loops? (Jane Madell, Jan 2015)

 

 

 

 

 

 


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