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Glossary of Hearing Aid Terms

Analogue Aids (Programmable) – A programmable system that allows settings to be saved that the user can switch to depending on the listening environment. For example, one program will work during a conversation, while the other may work in a theater.

Assistive Listening Devices (ALDs) – Instruments that assist in hearing. Phones for the hard of hearing, clocks, baby monitors, FM systems and amplifiers are just a few examples of ALDs.

Audiogram – A hearing test that measures one's ability to hear sounds based on intensity (loudness) or tone (speed of sound wave vibrations). Results are based on how soft a sound may get before it is inaudible. A hearing threshold of between 0 and 15 decibels (a whisper) is considered normal.

Behind-the-Ear (BTE) – These aids sit behind your ear and are connected to an ear mold placed inside your ear via tubing. BTE devices are fastened on the ear with an ear hook and the ear molds are custom made to fit the user's ear.

Body-Worn Hearing Aids – These aids use an external box worn by the user. The user wears an ear piece which is attached to the box by a wire. These aids benefit some as they do not block the ear canal, have the ability to use a large battery, and therefore are often recommended for those with severe hearing loss.

Bone-Anchored Hearing Aids (BAHA) – Bone anchored hearing aids transfer sound through a bone in the skull directly into the cochlea through a “bone-conduction” process. A small device is implanted surgically behind the ear in the skull of the recipient. A case is located externally which holds a microphone and a sound processor. This case transmits sound to the bone, which goes directly to the cochlea.

Cochlear – A specific part of the internal ear.

Cochlear Implants – Cochlear implants are surgically implanted into a person's inner ear. External components are either body-worn or behind the ear. The external component sends signals to the implant through the skin, which are then recognized as sound by the brain instantaneously. The process sends sound in the ear through nerve stimulation by avoiding damaged cells and by using an electrical signal.

Completely-in-the-Canal (CIC) – The whole hearing aid is placed completely inside the canal. CICs are extremely tiny in size and are almost invisible.

Conductive Hearing Loss – Hearing impairment caused by interference with sound or transmission through the outer and/or middle ear. This type of hearing loss can result from a variety of means including disease, infection and trauma.

Decibels – A unit of measurement that relates to sound.

Digital – Launched in the United States in 1996, many believe that the digital system has revolutionized hearing. This relatively new technology has revolutionized hearing devices by duplicating sound transmission.

Disposable Hearing Aids – The disposable aid has a built-in battery and, after the allotted hour or time usage, the entire aid is replaced.

FM Systems – System where one person wears a small microphone and transmitter that sends sound directly to the hearing aid and receiver using a wireless FM transmission. Ideal for a classroom or conference setting since it enables the person to hear the speaker's voice above disruptive background noise.

In-the-Ear (ITE) Hearing Aids – Hearing instruments that are completely placed in the ear. They are often used by those who suffer moderate hearing loss.

In-the-Canal (ITC) Hearing Aids – ITC aids are often larger and slightly more visible than Completely in the Canal (CIC) devices.

Middle Ear Implants (MEI) – A device planted in the middle ear through surgery that works in conjunction with an external case worn behind the ear or sometimes in the ear. The process works by vibrating the bones in the middle ear.

Occlusion – Hearing aid wearers often complain that their voice sounds odd and distorted as if they are speaking in a tunnel. This odd sound of hearing one's voice with a hearing aid is commonly referred to as occlusion and is caused when sounds cannot escape from the canal due to blockage.

Programs (Memories) – Hearing aid programs offer various sounds for a variety of listening environments. As an example, one program may be for conversations, another for the telephone and a third for noisy situations. An aid can come with numerous programs and the wearer may manually change back and forth between different programs, although some are able to switch automatically.

T-Switch or Telecoil – Telecoils are optional on most hearing aids and assist in telephone conversations. The T-switch or telecoil is a small wire inserted into a hearing aid. The telecoil is used to improve telephone communication and it can be used with other assistive devices to enhance television and stereo enjoyment.

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