Directional Microphone Hearing Aids in School Environments: Working Toward Optimization Purpose The hearing aid microphone setting (omnidirectional or directional) can be selected manually or automatically. This study examined the percentage of time the microphone setting selected using each method was judged to provide the best signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) for the talkers of interest in school environments. Method A ... Research Article
Research Article  |   January 01, 2017
Directional Microphone Hearing Aids in School Environments: Working Toward Optimization
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Todd A. Ricketts
    Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, TN
  • Erin M. Picou
    Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, TN
  • Jason Galster
    Starkey Hearing Technologies, Eden Prairie, MN
  • Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.
    Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication. ×
  • Correspondence to Todd A. Ricketts: todd.a.ricketts@vanderbilt.edu
  • Editor: Nancy Tye-Murray
    Editor: Nancy Tye-Murray×
  • Associate Editor: Kathleen Cienkowski
    Associate Editor: Kathleen Cienkowski×
Article Information
Hearing & Speech Perception / Acoustics / Hearing Disorders / Hearing Aids, Cochlear Implants & Assistive Technology / School-Based Settings / Hearing / Research Articles
Research Article   |   January 01, 2017
Directional Microphone Hearing Aids in School Environments: Working Toward Optimization
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, January 2017, Vol. 60, 263-275. doi:10.1044/2016_JSLHR-H-16-0097
History: Received March 10, 2016 , Revised June 24, 2016 , Accepted July 10, 2016
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, January 2017, Vol. 60, 263-275. doi:10.1044/2016_JSLHR-H-16-0097
History: Received March 10, 2016; Revised June 24, 2016; Accepted July 10, 2016

Purpose The hearing aid microphone setting (omnidirectional or directional) can be selected manually or automatically. This study examined the percentage of time the microphone setting selected using each method was judged to provide the best signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) for the talkers of interest in school environments.

Method A total of 26 children (aged 6–17 years) with hearing loss were fitted with study hearing aids and evaluated during 2 typical school days. Time-stamped hearing aid settings were compared with observer judgments of the microphone setting that provided the best SNR on the basis of the specific listening environment.

Results Despite training for appropriate use, school-age children were unlikely to consistently manually switch to the microphone setting that optimized SNR. Furthermore, there was only fair agreement between the observer judgments and the hearing aid setting chosen by the automatic switching algorithm. Factors contributing to disagreement included the hearing aid algorithm choosing the directional setting when the talker was not in front of the listener or when noise arrived only from the front quadrant and choosing the omnidirectional setting when the noise level was low.

Conclusion Consideration of listener preferences, talker position, sound level, and other factors in the classroom may be necessary to optimize microphone settings.

Acknowledgments
This project was funded by National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research: Field Initiated Research Grant H133G060012. Technological and material support for the hearing aid streaming procedures was provided by Phonak Hearing Systems. The authors thank Christine Williams for her assistance with data collection and her tireless work with the monumental task of data processing. We also thank Jeff Crukley, Jeremy Federman, Hannah Kim, Travis Moore, Casey Artz Schneider, Douglas Sladen, Jennifer Ratner, and Hollea Ryan for their assistance in participant recruitment, test material development, and data collection. In addition, we are grateful to Vicki Powers with Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools for her assistance with participant recruitment. Last, we thank all of the children who participated in this study. Preliminary data related to the classroom quantification portion of this project for 18 children with hearing impairment and 13 children with typical hearing were published as conference proceedings (Ricketts et al., 2011). Portions of this article were presented at the International Pediatric Audiology Conference “A Sound Foundation Through Early Amplification” (November 2010, Chicago, IL) and at the Annual Convention of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (November 2013, Chicago, IL).
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