Goodbye to Kitty (Kitty Linn O’Neil: March 24, 1946 to November 2, 2018)

By | News

Kitty O’Neal passed away last week. A truly inspirational figure, left deaf from a childhood illness, she was thwarted in her dream to become a champion diver, and instead became a renowned stunt-woman, and then famously the world land speed record holder. She proved that deafness was no barrier.

In 1976 in Oregon, O’Neil set the world land-speed record for female drivers. A hydrogen peroxide powered three-wheeled rocket car called the “SMI Motivator” reached an average speed of 512.7mph, with a peak speed of 621mph.

When she retired, Kitty had set 22 speed records on land and water.

Her land speed record still stands.

Jo and friends out on Sunday picking litter

By | News

Well done Jo. Out on Sunday helping to look after our wonderful country. It’s SO important that we are all seen to have pride in our communities. The more of us that care, and are seen to care, the better we will all be.

Phonak Launches Marvel with Universal Binaural Streaming and a New Level of Sound Quality

By | Technical

Phonak has launched its new Audéo Marvel receiver-in-the-canal (RIC) hearing aid which brings binaural sound to virtually any form of Bluetooth streaming—IOS, Android, or otherwise—with a unique sound classification technology yielding audio quality that impressed a group of industry experts and hearing aid users last week during a special media event and sneak-peek of the device at the company’s US headquarters in Warrenville, Ill, near Chicago. Based on the third version of Phonak’s Sonova Wireless One Radio Digital (SWORD) chip, the Audéo M is also designed to place the user at the centre of the audiological process with an array of new Smartphone apps, remote fine-tuning, and sound processing capabilities, says Phonak US President Jan Metzdorff.

PARC Research Audiologist Lori Rakita, AuD, explains how the AutoSense OS 3.0 technology classifies streamed media in real-time for optimized listening.

PARC Research Audiologist Lori Rakita, AuD, explains how the AutoSense OS 3.0 technology classifies streamed media in real-time for optimized listening.

New levels of binaural sound quality and universality. One key feature that immediately jumps out in Audéo M is its sound quality. For real audiophiles and others accustomed to hi-fi systems, the sound quality in today’s hearing aids is very good, but can still prompt them to ask why the devices can’t sound like stereo headphones. Of course, the problem—which has been around even before made-for-iPhone (MFi) systems became available—stems primarily from the venting of the aid for real-life environmental speech and sounds. This provides the important natural sound benefits associated with open-fit aids, but has required a trade-off in streamed sound quality. With the Audéo M, Phonak has reinserted a clear richer sound into streamed music, TV, or other devices via hearing aids—and demonstrated fairly dramatic differences in a paired comparison test. The system features AutoSense OS 3.0 which reportedly classifies streamed media for optimized listening.

Barb VanSomeren, Lori Rakita, Kailen Berry, AuD, Jan Jan Metzdorff, Christine Jones, AuD, Anna Nicole Klutz, AuD, and John Urbaniak at Phonak US headquarters near Chicago.

Phonak staff members Barb VanSomeren; Lori Rakita, AuD; Kailen Berry, AuD; Jan Metzdorff, Abby Poyser, AuD; Christine Jones, AuD, Nicole Klutz, AuD, and John Urbaniak at Phonak US headquarters near Chicago.

“We have the first classifier that also operates on the streamed signal,” said Christine Jones, AuD, Phonak US vice-president of Audiology and director of the Phonak Audiology Research Center (PARC) in Warrenville during a presentation at the media event.  “Some of the early work we did highlighted that there was an opportunity with streaming—as with the unique listening environments that can also be encountered by patients—where someone’s preferences may be very different than when listening to streamed speech, or dialog in media, movies, etc. Listening goals can be different, and sound quality preferences can be different. So, now we are not only classifying the environmental sounds, but we can also classify those streamed sounds to deliver the best possible experience under all listening conditions.”

Although the advanced design of the previous Audéo B-Direct model is award-winning, it does not feature binaural streaming. With the new Audéo M, wearers can now binaurally stream audio content, including smartphone calls, music, eBooks, and more, to both ears from any Bluetooth device.

Phonak points out that iPhones account for only 13% of smartphone use worldwide compared to 86% for the Android OS, and wearers’ choices have been limited primarily to hearing aids that utilize the MFi protocol. Additionally, even with IOS-compatible devices, some forms of MFi hearing aid streaming (eg, streaming from MacBooks and iMacs) were unavailable until now. SWORD 3.0 is capable of running Bluetooth Classic, Bluetooth LE, AirStream Technology (for TV), and Binaural VoiceStream Technology for high-speed data transmission between the two hearing aids in a binaural fitting. The new system even works with Siri and LiveListen. (Phonak’s proprietary Roger 2.4 GHz signal will also have direct streaming capabilities to the hearing aid next fall.)

“This means we now have universal binaural wireless connectivity,” said Dr Jones.  “In order to have the best access to speech on the phone, it’s best to hear well with both ears. And, beyond that, we are the only product that now connects to not just Apple and Android, but any Bluetooth device. This opens up a new world of connectivity for people because of its universal nature…What this means is, that in those cases where something is not accessible through the Apple iPhone or device, it should be accessible through the hearing aid.”

Jones explained that Phonak has also created a sophisticated system called “Environmental Balance” that controls how users hear the streaming in addition to how they hear the surrounding environment, both of which can still be adjusted via the basic volume control. All of this has the potential to open up even more of the popular streaming applications.

Packshot_Audeo_M-R_P5_pairAudéo Marvel wearers also benefit from hands-free Smartphone operation. Previously, hearing aid wearers using the MFi (and future ASHA) protocol needed to hold the smartphone up to their mouths and talk into the phone’s microphone to converse. The new hearing aids feature microphone inlets built directly into the housing, allowing wearers to have phone conversations by literally talking through their hearing aids.

Better processing and noise reduction, reducing cognitive load. Additionally, the enhanced SWORD OS incorporates Binaural VoiceStream Technology™ into Marvel hearing aids, a technology most recently employed in Advanced Bionics’ Naida CI sound processor. This four-microphone technology is reportedly capable of improving speech understanding by up to 60% in noisy places like restaurants, while simultaneously reducing the amount of effort by 19% required to listen and understand.1,2

“Audiology is at the heart of everything we do at Phonak,” said Sonova Group VP Martin Grieder in a press statement. “That’s why Marvel is such a game-changer for our industry. Marvel technology empowers people and provides a true ‘love at first sound’ experience. We believe the sound quality is second to none, and it begins the moment the person puts the hearing aids on.”


Phonak Audéo Marvel mini-charger.

Lithium-ion rechargeable technology for “a full day of streaming.” While no reliable statistics exist on the market penetration of rechargeable hearing aids, most experts estimate that about 17-20% of all hearing aids now feature rechargeability. Phonak has been a pioneer in rechargeable hearing aid technology, creating in 2016 the first lithium-ion hearing aids—a technology that appears to be gaining ground with hearing aid manufacturers.

According to Phonak, Marvel hearing aid wearers can enjoy a full day of hearing aid use—including streaming— on a single charge. The Audéo M rechargeable hearing aid also offers new features, automatically turning on or off when taken out or being placed into the charger. The system includes new LED lights and a new mini charger.

Remote fine-tuning and live voice-to-text transcription apps. With Marvel hearing aids comes the introduction of a suite of convenient smart apps. The myPhonak app allows wearers to have their hearing aids adjusted in real-time, in any situation, anywhere via videocall by the hearing care professional. It also gives consumers the ability to rate their hearing aid satisfaction in various environments and directly send this feedback to their hearing care professional.

The myCall-to-Text app reportedly provides live transcription of phone calls from the other party in more than 80 languages. This provides an extremely useful option for hearing aid users in noisy environments, or for people who prefer additional visual captions when using the phone.

New marketing campaign and rollout. A suite of marketing materials has been developed to promote the Marvel launch. Phonak US Vice-president of Marketing Barb Van Someren explained that the marketing surrounding Marvel emphasizes its multifunctionality, providing consumers with access to the world of sound that we all want via enhanced sound quality, a constellation of devices and streaming options, and phone calls. The new marketing assets highlight Phonak technology, audiology leadership, and Marvel’s diverse capabilities, and includes a video series that features two women exploring all the different ways Marvel can be used in a contemporary format (eg, the women’s dialog resembles the TV show Grace and Frankie) .

The rechargeable Audéo M-R will be available in November along with the zinc air Audéo M-312, and Phonak will add the Audéo M-312T and Audéo M-13T in February 2019. A rechargeable version of Marvel with T-Coil (Audéo M-RT) and RogerDirect functionality will be available as a firmware upgrade in Fall 2019.

Access Card – What is it?

By | News

It’s a card which translates your disability/impairment into symbols which highlights the barriers you face and the reasonable adjustments required. The card can be used to gain access to concessionary ticket prices for example; the theatre or to watch a gig.
I mostly use mine for gigs. As I have a severe to profound hearing loss in both ears, I pay for a ticket for myself and my companion is allowed the ‘free’ ticket. Usually it’s a friend or my partner, who knows / uses BSL (British Sign Language) as I still struggle to understand what is being said in busy environments, even with my implant / hearing aids in. Also, in the event of a fire / emergency, my companion can help communicate this to me so I can get out safely. Even with a mild hearing loss, you may still struggle and need communication help, so you will still be accepted for the Access Card.
You apply for the Access Card online at You will be asked to provide your medical evidence (mine was a copy of my Audiogram) and answer some questions as to how your disability affects you in your everyday life. It costs £15.00 to buy and expires in 3 years. My card came in 3 working days and I have already used it at lots of music venues, on the train when purchasing tickets as well as when out in restaurants I can show them I need communication help or just for them to be patient with me.

Nuala, Senior contributor

Trekz Titanium Bone Conduction Headphones for Hearing Loss – Review

By | Consumer Advice, Reviews

“To pair the headphones is very simple – you hold down the on/off button for 5 seconds and search for the headphones in your phone/Mac, whatever your device is. Usually the pin is 0000 and it will remember this for future and you will be able to connect immediately. The headphones are wireless and are open ear. The sound is sent via vibrations through the cheekbone which is good for your awareness of your surroundings. I think the vibrations certainly add to the experience however you do have to get used to it.

How do they sound?

Unfortunately I am unable to hear the music very well through them. I have a severe to profound bilateral conductive hearing loss and with bone conduction my level off loss is moderate to severe so I was expecting to hear more with these headphones than what I did. I can’t comment on the sound quality and it would be unfair with the level of hearing loss I have. I do like how my ear canals aren’t occluded and when out running the vibrations helped to keep my pace.

What are they like to wear?

I found them very comfortable to wear (I have worn them for up to two hours at a time). When out running however, the placement of the headphones often move so I am constantly having to adjust them to the correct position on my earphones. On the flip side, I have extremely small ears so it’s more difficult to get them to stay put. They are sweat resistant and I found that the connection doesn’t get lost – I haven’t had a problem so far.

When I wore the headphones with my hearing aids, I could hear the music clearly, however I feel this defeats the object of already having my Bluetooth hearing aids, (Oticon Opn). I feel these headphones would be more suited to people with a lower level of hearing loss. I do wish I could use these though!


Nuala, Senior reviewer


Oticon Opn NEW MODEL version

By | News

The most advanced hearing aid in the world is now available in a range of CUSTOM SHELLS.

Only through selected independent practices, including us.

Book now: to trial this before having to decide if it’s the best solution for your unique hearing loss.

Our new TV solution is the perfect fix!

By | News

Mrs. M’s son was kind enough to help with this. I had already provided a pair of PHONAK VIRTO V30 power ITC hearing aids, but advised that the distance from the TV was always going to cause problems, just because of sound decay over distance.

There are other strategies to deal with this problem (such as buying a new TV, re-positioning the TV, using a domestic loop system, utilise a hearing aid accessory / TV device with the hearing aids), but I came up with a far easier, less fussy and cost effective way to deal with this widespread problem.

Do not rush out and buy a sound bar!

Mrs. M can adjust the volume, bass and treble right next to her armchair, through an 80W speaker. She reports that the results are fabulous. She can now hear ‘Strictly’ just how she likes without worrying about the neighbours or visitors.

WE care about finding the best answers for YOU. Call us today to experience the fundamental difference we can make in your life.

IDA Institute blog

By | Company

The Nottingham Hearing Practice is Inspired by Ida

The Nottingham Hearing Practice is Inspired by Ida

FRI SEP 28, 2018 10:36 AMBy Ellen Pucke

The Nottingham Hearing Practice in Nottingham, England is the newest clinic to earn the Inspired by Ida label for person-centered care. Inspired by Ida is a program that guides both hearing care professionals and front desk staff in the fundamentals of person-centered care (PCC) and provides coaching for implementing PCC in their work via tools developed by the Ida Institute. Successful completion of the coursework and pledging a commitment to PCC principles earns clinics the Inspired by Ida label, a benchmark of quality in person-centered care.

We checked in with Jo Herrod, Co-Director and Audiologist to learn more about the Nottingham Hearing Practice’s philosophy and what earning the Inspired by Ida label means to them.

Why was it important to you that your clinic become Inspired?

We are a newly established partnership of two accomplished audiologists bringing more than 50 years of combined experience from the public and private sectors to the clinic. We share with the Ida Institute the same passion for delivering the best possible outcome for clients and we will always take on board any service, training, and new ideas that can help us maintain and improve upon our ethos.

As seasoned professionals, what did you take away from completing the Inspired by Ida program?

We have a significant dedication to our practices and we have both finely honed our patient experience over many years. Having done the Inspired by Ida courses we realize that a lot of what we do naturally echoes much of Ida’s principles. However, one never stops learning and it is easy to become complacent, hence us sharpening our skills through the Inspired by Ida program.

How would you define person-centered care?

Person-centered care means that the client in question is at the heart of whatever we do, to enable us to deliver the best possible outcome now and for their future care.

What does person-centered care mean to your clients?

I think if you asked a client “what is person-centered care?” they would have a good guess, but not recognize its importance in the work we do.

We try to convey with our marketing materials and website that they are the most important thing about what we do, and that we strive for the best possible result for them and their family. If that means putting off going down the hearing aid route for another year or so, then that is the advice we give them. Clients have been surprised when we have not “tried to sell them a hearing aid”, but this only leads to greater trust in us as a private company and sets us apart from other local providers.

The Inspired by Ida label of quality is all a part of how we demonstrate who we are to our community.

Visit our Inspired by Ida page to learn how you can join the program and earn the label as a clinic or visit our Learning Hall to earn Ida badges as an individual practitioner.