Helping Children Hear Better
Fitting hearing aids to a child is unique- the hearing aid fitting process is very different than that for an adult. As children grow their ears undergo continuous anatomical and physiological changes. On the outside, their ears grow in size. On the inside, the response to sound matures as the child develops. Sound discrimination ability sharpens. When these factors are considered as well as safety, cosmetic and practical considerations, it becomes clear that the requirements of a hearing aid for children are very different from those of adults.
The Right Hearing Aid For Your Child…
Fortunately, today there are different hearing aid case colors to make the hearing aid fitting process more fun for older children. However when choosing a hearing aid, your child’s clinician will be focused on the hearing aid technology and features. Certain hearing aid features are critical for children including: consistent audibility of soft sounds, automatic adjustment of hearing aids to ensure audibility in different sound environments, flexibility for accurate programming of the hearing aids to accommodate the child’s unique hearing loss configuration, adjustable options to enable reprogramming as a fuller picture of a young child’s hearing loss emerges, direct audio input capability and a telecoil enabling the child to have access to assistive device technology in the classroom, and safety features such as battery and volume control locks.
Widex has a longstanding commitment to advancing the understanding and development of amplification with appropriate features, related software and program initiatives supportive of the hearing aid fitting process, and overall hearing healthcare for children. Widex amplification goals for children include:
- consistent access to soft sounds and speech
- comfort for loud sounds and acceptable output
- high quality, undistorted amplification
- consistent audibility in varying listening situations
- consistent auditory access over time with hearing and earmold changes
- improved SNR (or hearing for speech relative to noise) when appropriate
Read further to discover the 10 reasons Widex has the best hearing aids for children.
Reasons to choose Widex for children…
Widex Has ISP!
Integrated Signal Processing (ISP) was developed by Widex in order to improve sound quality in various environments. An advantage of ISP is the linking of all features and information. Information about your child’s hearing loss and your child’s environment is shared between the various hearing aid features. The result is increased complexity and efficiency of the hearing aid fitting, a higher quality signal and also a more accurate hearing aid program for your child.
Soft Sound Audibility
Hearing loss results in the inability to hear soft sounds. Hearing soft speech sounds is important for young children to develop normal speech and language skills. Widex hearing aids achieve audibility for the softest speech sounds through its low compression threshold and highly effective feedback cancellation system. The result is improved access to high frequency speech information important for hearing and distinguishing soft speech sounds such as “s”, “f” and “th”.
The Audibility Extender
Audibility for soft high frequency sounds is sometimes not possible when the hearing loss configuration is sharply sloping (precipitous) or when the hearing loss in the high frequencies is profound. The Widex Audibility Extender, available in Widex Inteo hearing aids, is a unique application of a frequency lowering technique (linear frequency transposition) which can help children with precipitous high frequency sensorineural hearing loss have access to soft high frequency speech sounds. With training, the Audibility Extender has been found to improve consonant recognition and high frequency speech sound production for these children.
Direct Audio Input (DAI) Compatibility and Auto Activation of FM Program
Individuals with hearing loss require a more favorable signal-to-noise ratio (the relative difference between a sound of interest and background noise) than someone with normal hearing in order to achieve the same degree of speech understanding. This is even truer for children than for adults. This is particularly important in the classroom where there may be distractions including noise. Because the language skills of young children are less developed than those of adults, they cannot “fill in” the unheard parts of a spoken message as easily we do to understand the overall content.
There is no question that the best way to improve signal-to-noise-ratio in the classroom environment is by means of an FM system (assistive technology to interface with the child’s hearing aid in the classroom). Widex ISP hearing aids are cleverly designed for the simplest, safest function with FM systems. Once a Widex ISP hearing aid is programmed, and the audio shoe and FM receiver attached, the FM program is automatically activated. Auto-activation means no special programming or button-pushing is necessary. The child’s hearing aid is ready to work with the FM system as soon as the audio shoe and receiver are attached. Auto-activation makes it easier for clinicians, parents and educators to use FM systems with children. Widex ISP aids of all levels are DAI auto-activated. Additionally, if your child’s clinician desires to individualize FM settings for your child, s/he can do so through the Widex hearing aid programming software.
Flexibility in Fitting and Adjustments
As children grow, their ears undergo changes in size and volume; these changes correspond to changes in the sound the child hears. This change is especially significant in children under 5 years of age and must be accounted for in the settings of the hearing aid. Furthermore, many children with hearing loss experience fluctuation in the degree and or configuration of their hearing loss. Middle ear infection is a frequent factor that can also influence the sounds the child hears. Additionally, fitting young children can also be challenging. Children are easily distracted and sometimes may not tolerate long and elaborate testing sessions. Consequently, hearing aids chosen for a child must be adjusted optimally in the least amount of time in order to make good use of the child’s attention and in order to make it an easy, positive experience for the child. Additionally the hearing aid must have a fitting strategy and flexible settings enabling the child’s clinician to make quick and precise fittings and adjustments.
Widex ISP instruments allow the hearing healthcare professional to utilize in-situ (hearing aid in the ear) measurement of the child’s hearing sensitivity (Sensogram) to start the fitting process with the most accurate information. A wide range of flexible adjustment options assist the child’s clinician during fine-tuning and verification processes.
Consistent Audibility in Different Environments
Widex ISP hearing aids utilize high definition sound analysis and processing in order to provide accurate information about the specific nature of the incoming signals. The level, type and frequency content of signals is continuously analyzed so that processing is accurate and reflects the nuances of the specific sound input in the child’s often changing environment. Widex ISP hearing aids use precise algorithms to enable consistent audibility in a variety of environments.
Innovative Fitting and Tools to Improve Accuracy
Innovation is behind Widex ISP fitting tools such as use of the Sensogram and the Self-test module. Both of these tools turn the Widex hearing aids into signal generators. When measured, Sensogram thresholds increase accuracy since they are performed with the child’s own earmold and with the hearing aid itself. In a sense, the computer becomes the audiometer and the hearing aid takes the place of the insert phone/headphone so that the clinician can make measurements accounting for the individual child’s unique fitting situation.
The Self-test is an example of another innovative tool incorporated within Compass for the purposes of ensuring accuracy. In a matter of seconds, the clinician can send a signal through the basic hearing aid components- microphones, amplifier, receiver, amplifier and telecoil for purposes of screening for proper function. The screening result can help busy pediatric clinicians make the best decisions about their young patients’ hearing aids.
Features Designed for Challenging Listening Situations
Not all children have FM systems and those that do typically do not use their FM system in every environment. It is important to improve hearing for speech sounds relative to noise wherever possible –this is particularly important for more mobile babies, toddlers and for school aged children. Through hearing exposure children are provided with learning opportunities. Widex hearing aid systems have universal features that help to accomplish this safely for children; the High Definition Locator and Speech Enhancement features are designed with children in mind.
High Definition Locator
A directional hearing aid should minimize loss of audibility for sounds originating from the sides and back of the child. The Widex Inteo hearing aid is equipped with a fully automatic directional system called the High Definition Locator. A Speech Tracer unit ensures that important speech audibility cues in the child’s environment are preserved.
Widex Inteo utilizes the Speech Intelligibility Index (SII) to determine hearing aid settings in noisy environments. The child’s unique hearing loss is considered in determining the most appropriate settings for any noisy environment. A lot of calculations go on virtually instantaneously. Inteo continuously analyzes the listening environment and adjusts gain settings accordingly to preserve important speech audibility cues in noisy environments.
Innovative Tools to Ensure Audibility
Because verification of hearing aid fitting outcome is critical, Widex has designed its hearing aid fitting software to be highly accurate and has embedded several tools for your child’s audiologist to determine audibility. One of the tools used is SoundTracker, an innovative use of both the Widex hearing aid and fitting software to help the pediatric clinician ensure that their young patients hear incoming sounds and speech through the hearing aid properly. The SoundTracker is a “real-time” display of speech input reaching the hearing aid worn by the child. It ultimately displays a real-time simulation of output in relation to the child’s sensogram thresholds and predicted uncomfortable listening levels. This is not only a valuable tool for verifying benefit but also for troubleshooting.
Widex fitting software provides the pediatric clinician with information to predict how well the child will hear soft sounds in the test environment. This can save valuable time and keep the hearing aid fitting process as brief and enjoyable for the child as possible. If the need arises to make discrete changes in a particular frequency region, the clinician is able to view the effect of the change easily using the fitting software.
Quality, Durability, Efficiency
Widex is committed to producing quality hearing aids designed by talented engineers to meet the needs of the hearing-impaired. In addition to working on innovative features to address challenging hearing loss configurations and challenging environments, Widex engineers continuously work towards improving hearing aid processing efficiency. The end result is the most sophisticated processing with lowest battery drain possible. Widex is certified by the International Organization for Standards (ISO 9001). The Widex quality policy includes constant monitoring of production procedures, attention to detail, with each Widex employee working as a team member to meet quality goals and encouraging new ideas to improve our procedures.
Commitment to Improving Access to Advanced Technology
Widex recognizes the need to enable more children to use advanced technology. Since 2001, Widex has helped facilitate the fitting of advanced technology to children from families with limited financial resources by means of the Widex Pediatric Hearing Assistance Program. The program has also enabled pediatric clinicians to collect and share outcome data for children using advanced technology. In addition, Widex is working hard to close the time gap between hearing loss identification and intervention. Widex is proud to continue the Pediatric Hearing Assistance Program-Loaner Network in order to address the time delay between identification of hearing loss and intervention. The Widex Loaner Network program has enabled hundreds of children to be immediately fit with advanced hearing aids as soon as their hearing loss is diagnosed as well as throughout the time period it takes for the family to secure funding for the permanent hearing loss solution.