- Disabilities & the Disabled
Cochlear Implant & Cell Phones
Cochlear Implant Introduction
The Cochlear Implant
Update on Cochlear Implant and Cell Phones
- Cochlear Implant & Cell Phones Update
This is my next article on compatibility between cell phones and cochlear implant.
Big Deal in Assistive Hearing Technology
Yep, you read it right. Cochlear implant and cell phones! I'm sure most of you that have never heard of this are wondering what cochlear implant is. That, and what cell phones have to do with it.
First, assuming you have NEVER heard of a cochlear implant, there is a technical, general terminology for that kind of device; 'assistive hearing technology' or 'assistive listening technology'. Hearing aids fall into this category, as well. Basically, cochlear implant is one of the many inventions specifically targeted for hearing technology.
The big difference between the hearing aid and the cochlear implant is important, though. Hearing aids simply amplify what hearing you *do* have. Cochlear implant actually involves a surgery to implant a little device into the cochlea to electrically stimulate it. This causes ability to hear more sounds than you ever did before. Not just amplified, but increasing levels of decibels and tones closer to what regular folks can hear.
Cochlear implant isn't simply an assistive technology for the deaf and the hard of hearing. It actually replaces what the deaf and the hard of hearing don't have and brings the amplified, clarified, normal hearing to those who can't hear.
Here is an analogy to consider on my last point. Cochlear implant *is* a replacement or an addition for what one has lost or never had. For example, think about the corrective lenses. Corrective lenses augments existing vision. Cochlear implants, however, does not augment the hearing, it totally replaces it.
However, there are some (or a lot) of us who still need other assistive devices to go with our newly found hearing. Some of us may never reach the level of hearing most regular folks have.
That brings me to....
..the cell phones. Remember that there are radio frequency interference between the phone and the cochlear implant. What happens is that the transmitter and radio frequency collides, thus causing a call to be lost. The buzzing, on the other hand, really happens with digital cordless phones. This is also a valid situation.
What I didn't really realize when picking my cell phone was that there would be disturbances where the call would get lost when I placed the phone near my cochlear implant. I probably should have thought of this since I had worse problems with the house phone. The home cordless phones typically are digital and over 5.8 GHz which does produce interference between 'my Ear' and the phone. The Bionicear website notes it should occasionally cause interferences, but not much. In my case, all I hear are the buzzing whereas everyone else hears the voice on the other end.
Now, many hearing impaired and deaf people pick products that have the best texting capabilities, with services that includes many minutes or unlimited texting plan in their area. I certainly did when I picked the LG Scoop with Alltel. I didn't really plan to use it for calling as much, but I also know I have to train my ear to listen on the phones.
Regardless of one simple incompatibility (the interference if it gets too close to my ear), I love my LG Scoop. It slides open and the QWERTY keyboard is easy to use for my fingers. It's incredibly easy to use and has amazing accessories for it. It comes in various colors and I absolutely adore the style. The weight is perfect; it's not featherlight and it's not heavy. It's just slightly dense since it's all compact. It has an auxiliary port for the headphone which can be used for cochlear implant auxiliary audio earhook accessory. This hooks up to the processor so I can hear the phone and nothing else. This is one solution.
Another one that I have discovered, as you will see in a photo here, is holding the ear piece further away from 'my Ear'. The mouthpiece is still near my mouth. I also turn the speakerphone on and the volume at the highest so I can hear from that bit of distance. I have also taken to setting it on the table while I'm talking; I can still hear clearly from this distance.
That's another great thing about this phone. The sound quality is fantastic for my level of hearing. I can honestly train my ear well with this phone and learn to make out words the way hearing people can. I have always avoided the phone up until I got the LG Scoop.
Cell Phone Compatibilities
Things to Consider
There are many things to consider when it comes to cell phones, particularly sound quality and texting capabilities. It becomes even more important to find something that is incredibly compatible with the cochlear implant and the person's unique needs.
So, there it is. A concise list of things to consider.
- High-quality sound. You would want something that helps you to hear better with the cochlear implant or any assistant listening technology.
- Bluetooth technology. Cochlear implant products have many accessories that work with bluetooth technology.
- Texting capabilities and services. This one is fairly obvious. It's really useful to have a good service like this for any person that enjoys texting over phone calls, particularly for the hearing impaired and cochlear implant users.
- Telecoil compatibility. I would ask the sales representative or seller of the cell phones about the compatibility with telecoils that helps reduce interferences. (Cochlear Implant industry provides telecoils for the products).
- Flip-flop/Clamshell designs are actually better at reducing frequency than slider phones, but there are a few exceptions ( like my LG Scoop ;) ).
- Lower antennas. Cochlearamericas.com recommend that the cochlear implant users find a phone that lets you point the antenna away from the ear to reduce frequency.
- Auxiliary port (headset port). Most cell phones have this, but I'd check anyway. There are many different styles of ports so you can find one that is compatible. I'd also check by using the auxiliary audio earhook or other implant products that can hook into the auxiliary port.
The first three are very obvious for just about anyone rather than just cochlear implant users. I think those are the main things most people look for, but what's interesting is that they really take that for granted. A lot of hearing impaired people absolutely rely on texting technology because it's fast, communication can occur at anytime and anyplace, with as many people as possible - without having to get incredibly confused and saying "what?!" a lot in the process. Just a thought to consider!
With this in mind, I have a few recommendations. I personally prefer LG Scoop, obviously, and in the future I want something similar to that. I would most likely go with LG Rumor or any other compact sliding phone.
However, for texting, sound, bluetooth, e-mails, flip-flop design, and auxiliary ports, I would pick the Blackberry series. There is a Blackberry that is a flip-flop design called the Blackberry Pearl Flip which is a Smartphone. It has practical features for the cochlear implant user, plus a fantastic organizer for a person living a hectic life.
I would test these things out before purchasing. The first person or company I would ask is the cochlear implant provider the user is considering or already has the product from. Always ask a retail salesperson to allow you to test to see if it works well with any assistive hearing technology you have. Also question them on the following things:
- Telecoil compatibilities
- Audio jacks
- Bluetooth compatibilities
- Radio frequency disturbances
After all is said and done...
I really, really intended for this one to be a rant of sorts. In writing, I realized that it really isn't so bad. There are plenty of upgrades, technology, assistance, and information out there to access that can ease a lot of the problems I had in mind when I started this. So, this ended up being more targeted towards informing people about the cochlear implant *and* a resource for one aspect of communication resolution.
- HarrisComm Catalog
A really decent catalog on accessories for the cochlear implant. These accessories are usually for assisting with communication, like using the cell phone.
- BlackBerry - Pearl Flip 8230 - BlackBerry Pearl Flip 8220 Smartphones
Flip over the BlackBerry Pearl Flip 8230 and 8220 smartphones at BlackBerry.com. Discover features, specs and where to buy flip phones. This is the phone I recommend for cochlear implant users.
- LG Scoop - slate (Alltel) Cell Phone reviews - CNET Reviews
CNET's comprehensive LG Scoop - slate (Alltel) coverage includes unbiased reviews, exclusive video footage and Cell Phone buying guides. Compare LG Scoop - slate (Alltel) prices, user ratings, specs and more.
- Annual Cochlear Implants Statistics - a comprehensive view - Wellsphere
Expert articles, personal stories, blogs, Q&A, news, local resources, pictures, video and a supportive community. Annual Cochlear Implants Statistics - Health Knowledge Made Personal.
- National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders [NIDCD]
This site contains information about the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), one of the National Institutes of Health.
- CHRONICLES OF A BIONIC WOMAN
This is a blog about a woman's journey with her cochlear implant. She has videos on her first activations.
- Solutions to electromagnetic interference problems...[IEEE Trans Neural Syst Rehabil Eng. 2006] - Pu
PubMed is a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine that includes over 18 million citations from MEDLINE and other life science journals for biomedical articles back to the 1950s. Here's an article on cochlear implant interference.