Shared from the 1/21/2018 The Virginian-Pilot eEdition

Say what?

Technology douses background noise by connecting headsets, hearing aids, handheld devices and PA systems

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JANE BLOODWORTH ROWE | FOR THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT

Renee Sampler, left, and her mother, Beverly Warner, found it easy to hold a conversation with the help of new hearing technology at Atlantic Shores Retirement Community.

For years, Beverly Warner had trouble participating in meetings or even dinner conversations because she couldn’t hear the speaker over the background noise.

That changed recently when Atlantic Shores Retirement Community, where Warner lives, unveiled technology designed to help the hearing impaired.

At a Jan. 11 presentation, residents tried the hand-held devices and headsets, which are provided by Atlantic Shores, while watching a movie, having refreshments and socializing.

With this assistive listening system, Warner and her daughter, Renee Wampler, could hold a conversation despite the noise of people talking at other tables.

“This does help,” Warner said. “Now I can participate.”

The small device interacts with the telecoil implanted in the hearing aid and helps with face-to-face conversation, said Christ Maher, owner of Healthy Hearing Now, which provided the technology. Jamie Lockard, resident technology specialist, co-led the presentation.

Atlantic Shores has also installed a Hearing Loop system, or network of wires, within the walls of its multi-purpose room that will facilitate hearing during small group discussions or live performances.

The difference, Maher and Lockard said, is that the small hand-held devices and headsets primarily help with one-on-one conversation, while the hearing loop system also helps when there are multiple speakers.

The system is similar to one used at Westminster-Canterbury, some theaters and churches. It interacts with the telecoil that is implanted in some hearing aids, and those who don’t have the telecoil can use headsets, Maher said.

The headsets and hand-held devices are available for residents to check out.

“A person is not going to know what it’s all about until they’ve experienced it,” said resident David Allen, who has his own self-contained unit, which includes the handheld device and a hearing aid with a telecoil.

“I consider it a miracle,” Allen said. “Before I had the device, I’d go to dinner with someone and what I’d hear would be a wa-wa-wawa. Now, I can hear what that person is saying and not be left out in the dark.”

Jane Bloodworth Rowe, jrowe28@cox.net

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