How To Enjoy The Movies Or Live Theater With Hearing Loss

People with hearing loss are often nervous about going to the movies. They fear they won’t be able to understand the dialogue over the booming soundtrack, so they often wait for a film’s digital copy that they can watch in the privacy of their own home with the captions on. The same goes for attending live theater. With theater ticket prices on the rise, some people with hearing loss wonder why they should risk spending money on a show they might not understand.

But times are changing. Most movie theaters now provide free captioning devices, and many live entertainment theaters, particularly on Broadway, are improving the hearing access of patrons with hearing difficulties. So, note these tips to enjoy movies and theater shows to the fullest.

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The Art and Science of Building a Hearing Aid

Did you ever wonder how custom hearing aids are manufactured? I didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about it until a recent trip to Phonak’s US headquarters. It was a wonderful visit. I was able to discuss the patient’s perspective with the company’s leadership and audiologists and learn about the work they are doing to improve hearing aid technology.

One of the highlights was touring the company’s 93,000 square foot hearing aid manufacturing facility in Aurora, Illinois. Opened in 2013, the facility employs more than 500 people in varying shifts that allow it to operate 24/7. Here, the company’s custom hearing aids are constructed. The process is a combination of art and science, just like living with hearing loss.

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Interesting Reads: Smart Hearing by Katherine Bouton

Katherine Bouton’s latest book, Smart Hearing — Strategies, Skills and Resources for Living Better with Hearing Loss, is just that — an excellent guide to living a better life with hearing loss. Using personal anecdotes and containing extensive research on assistive listening devices, the book provides a road map for people at all stages of their hearing loss journey. If you think you may have hearing loss, or know you do, this book is required reading.

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Hearing Loss & The Irony Of The Entertainment Business

“Goodbye yellow brick road,” Elton John belted out the title song of his final concert tour. My family rarely attends concerts — given my hearing loss I worry about damaging it further — but we are big Elton John fans and could not bear to miss our last chance to see him perform live. The sold out show in Madison Square Garden was outstanding with the crowd singing along to its favorite oldies but goodies. My family and I were able to enjoy the performance because we came prepared with hearing protection and the knowledge of how to use it. You can read my tips for attending a concert in my article, “How To Enjoy a Concert Safely When You Have Hearing Loss.”

As we made our way to our seats, the irony dawned on me. We were not allowed to smoke, to bring in outside food or drink, or even use caps on our plastic water bottles (I guess they think people will throw them?!?), but we could blast our ears with 110 decibel sound for 3 hours without any rules stating otherwise. There was not even a posted sign suggesting we protect our hearing with earplugs or ear muffs. Something seemed wrong with that.

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Over-The-Counter Hearing Aids — What Does the Potential Consumer Think?

I recently participated in an article for The Hearing Journal — the conclusion of its three part series on Over-The-Counter (OTC) hearing devices. Part 1 included perspectives from hearing health professionals. Part 2 shared views from hearing industry leaders. The third part was from the consumer perspective — people with mild to moderate hearing loss. I am happy to share the article below.

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