I recently took part in a usability study for a large hearing aid manufacturer. I always enjoy doing consumer focus groups related to hearing aids and other hearing technologies. The more feedback we as users provide to the manufacturers, the more likely it is that they will meet more of our needs in the future. Usually I get a sneak peek at a new app that is under development or an innovative feature that is to be added to a company’s hearing aid, which is also fun.
This study was different. It focused on manipulating and cleaning three different behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids. Since I have never regularly used a BTE hearing aid — I always have used ones worn in the ear canal — it was all new to me. During the exercise, I learned to put on and remove ear pieces, and take off, replace and clean plastic tubing and domes. Simple activities, but they were not easy to execute. I quickly learned that wearing this type of hearing aid requires a very steady hand.