FM Systems Boost Hearing
Struggling to Hear?
You want to keep connected to your clients and hear what they say. But do you struggle to hear when the person you want to hear is some distance away? The latest digital technologies includes FM systems that dramatically assist hearing.
FM Systems transfer sound from one point to another without the sound having to travel through the air. This means that the sound reaches you directly and clearly, as if it had occurred right in your ear! Because FMs deliver sound directly, they also overcome any background noise that is around you.
FMs can take many shapes and forms. The FM that is best suited to you will depend on your lifestyle.
In the Classroom
Children who have difficulty concentrating in class, hearing the teacher when her back is turned, or when there is background noise present in the classroom, will benefit from an FM called the iSense micro. This is a tiny device that sits behind the ear. It is so small that is almost impossible to see when in situ.
It receives sound from a lapel microphone worn by the teacher. The sound is processed by a small device, similar in appearance to a mini mobile phone that is kept by the teacher. The teacher’s voice (or any other sound, for example a TV, a computer or audio device) is then transferred directly to the student who hears the voice directly and clearly in their ear. The teacher’s voice is highlighted over any background sound. This has the effect of helping the student to concentrate and hear when the teacher may not be near the student or when the room is noisy.
Patients under the age of 21 and who have a diagnosed, permanent hearing loss will be referred to the public provider, Australian Hearing for FM systems. For all other children whose hearing loss is temporary or whose hearing is normal but have difficulty hearing and concentrating in class, then the devices are supplied by Knox Audiology.
In the Office and Beyond
FM systems are very useful for adults too. As our world gets busier and noisier, it is harder to hear in office environments, boardrooms, meetings, cafes and restaurants. Even hearing your husband or wife around the house can be difficult! Depending on your particular lifestyle requirements, FM systems can be set up to help you hear in your workplace or home.
If you work in an office environment that is open plan, it is common to have difficulty hearing a particular person or the background chatter of the office. Similarly, in a boardroom meeting situation it is often hard to hear colleagues sitting around a table. In large presentations microphones can distort sound, voices can echo and become blurred and speech sounds can become jumbled as they travel through the room.
In all these situations an FM system will overcome the effects of background noise and distance. By placing a small microphone (which has the appearance of a small remote control) near the speaker or in the middle of a meeting room table, and wearing a small device behind your ear, or one that can connect to a hearing aid, the signal from the speaker can be directly transferred to you, clearly and loudly.
In the Home
Around the home is another area where the effects of background noise and distance can play havoc with our communication. A common story I hear in the clinic is a man trying to communicate with his wife whilst she is in another room. Perhaps the TV is on and he wasn’t aware she had begun to talk to him. Without an FM system, the sound from the speaker is only directly heard in the room where it is spoken, and often directed away from the listener.
Background noise such as a TV or radio complicates the issue further! If this is a common scenario in your house, then an FM system can transfer sound from the speaker to the listener directly and clearly. It will sound like you are always taking 1:1 in a quiet room! The speaker wears a small microphone on a neck chain and the listener wears a similar device that sends a signal to the ear via a hearing aid. If a hearing aid is not worn then a small earpiece can be used.
Soundfield Amplification System
Finally, an FM Soundfield Amplification system might suit a classroom where there are several children with hearing impairments or a classroom that is open plan, or for teachers who struggle to raise their voice for long periods of time. A Soundfield Amplification System involves a lapel microphone worn by the teacher which transfers sound to four speakers placed around the classroom. This provides a clear sound in all areas of the classroom.
This system is very beneficial on may levels:Firstly, children are very prone to middle ear infections during the winter months. As colds and infections come and go, often hearing ability varies too.
Secondly, as classrooms increasingly become more open plan and teaching becomes more discussion based, learning spaces are becoming noisier. Whilst this may have many educational benefits, it also creates a difficult situation for children to concentrate in and is challenging for children with hearing impairments or auditory processing disorders. A Soundfield Amplification system ensures all children hear well all the time, wherever they are in the classroom.
Finally, teachers can experience voice strain in the normal course of their work. Soundfield Amplification systems reduce the need for teachers to raise their voice which has huge benefits for the teacher, both health-wise and in decreasing levels of fatigue.
If you feel an FM system may benefit you, your child or your school, please come in to talk to an audiologist and we will be happy to advise you on the available range of devices and which one is best suited to you.