Listening can be difficult—and hearing aids alone may not be sufficient to improve communication–when the speaker is at a distance, in a noisy environment, or in a reverberant space.

In a recent study, adult participants with sensorineural hearing loss were provided with a remote microphone, the Roger Select, for a one-month trial. Each participant was also fit with study hearing aids. The goal was to determine which personal or environmental factors were associated with greatest objective and subjective benefit of the remote microphone. Listeners performed a speech task in a simulated restaurant in real space, and with the microphone either placed on the “restaurant” table or worn by the talker. On average, Roger improved speech recognition by 20% at environmental signal-to-noise levels typical of real restaurants. The greatest improvements occurred in the most adverse listening conditions, and for individuals with greatest objective and subjective difficulty in background noise. Listeners who reported a greater level of difficulty communicating in noise were more likely to indicate a preference for Roger use. Perceived benefit of Roger use was unrelated to personality or level of reported social activity. Considering the limited adoption of hearing assistive technology by adult hearing aid users, our hope is to use these data to encourage greater use (and audiologist advocacy) for remote microphones.

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Our research is conducted with and for individuals with hearing loss, who generously offer their time and experiences.

We are grateful to have support for our work from the National Institutes of Health and the American Speech-Language-Hearing Foundation