Everything you always wanted to know about HoH (hard-of-hearing) items

Below are just random HoH (hard-of-hearing) notes. Whenever I think of something, I toss it in. I have some deaf items, but this file is geared toward HoH items.

I grouped them in various categories.
  1. Doctors and Hearing Aids
  2. Phones and Cellphones
  3. Videophone
  4. Stuffs for the House
  5. Deaf items
  6. Forums
  7. Miscellaneous
DISCLAIMER: I have no business association with any of the below links. If you buy anything, especially what I do not use, buy at YOUR OWN RISK. Let me know if any product is bad/cheap.

1. Doctors and Hearing Aids (HA)

If you are in the Bay area (Oakland/SF/SJ), a good place for ear medical study and audiology is at CA Ear Institute (CEI).


They are alittle on the expensive side, but their services are comprehensive. Medicare and some insurance companies will cover medical treatments and audiograms but not hearing aids. If you are in "investigative mode" (thinking about buying a HA), go to a medical center (hospital, doctor's clinic) and get an audiogram. Be sure you get a copy of the result. Then you will not have to deal with the pressure from a HA dealer.

I use Better Hearing Center of Palo Alto (center of Bay area)


I have relatives using Pacific Hearing Service (center of Bay area)


If you live elsewhere and just need hearing aids and/or audiograms, any hearing aid dealer will do - just check reviews.

A couple of decades ago, HAs were only analog. Now HAs are analog or digital. If you have a steep (audiogram) curve (extreme high-frequency loss), then digital HAs allow you to (dB) boost specific frequencies at specific amounts. This allows you to have a more accurate amplification and better discernment. If your hearing loss is minor and/or have a relatively flat (audiogram) curve, then an analog HA will do just fine. In general, analog HAs are cheaper than digital HAs. A good read is at

http://www.hearinghaven.com/articles/digital-hearing-aids-vs-analog-hearing-aids/ (Digital Hearing Aids Vs. Analog Hearing Aids)

If you have at least a moderate hearing loss, you probably want directional microphone and noise cancellation. Directional microphone means the amplification will be louder in front of you and quieter behind you. Noise cancellation will reduce the volume of knocking and other noises - allowing you to better discriminate voices.

Digital HAs do not allow the users to program their HAs unless they have a special instrument such as

http://www.thehearingcompany.com/HI-PRO-USB-Hearing-Aid-Programming-Device-with-cables-and-software-_p_238.html (HI-PRO USB Hearing Aid Programming Device with cables and software)

or programming software at


More information about programming digital HA can be found at


There are semi-digital HAs which are digital, but allows the user to easily change the settings whether via smartphone, computer, and/or trimmer. For "trimmer" models, see

http://hear-better.com/blog/?p=87 (Digital hearing Aid Trimmers Adjustment)
http://hearraid.com/2013/07/18/hearing-aid-trimmers/ (HEARING AID TRIMMERS)

If you wish to program digital or semi-digital HA, see


Analog HAs allow the users to alter the settings at will.

A good discussion about audiogram is at


Notations: BTE = behind the ear; ITE = in the ear. BTE HAs are good if you need more power. ITE HAs can be hidden. There are HAs that goes in the ear canal - never need to be taken out.

A glossary of HA terms can be found at


For the most powerful digital HAs (hearing aids), consider using an Oticon or a Phonak HA. Oticon has been around for a long time and has the reputation of providing the most powerful HA during the last century - I used several powerful analog Oticon HAs. In 2003, Digifocus II (which I brought in 2003) was their strongest digital HA. Unfortunately it did not have directional microphone or noise cancellation. As of May 2015, some replacement parts are not available. Oticon probably have a better models now (and with directional microphone and noise cancellation).

Phonak Nadia (which I brought in August 2010) is even stronger than the Digifocus II and has noise cancellation and directional microphone.

Siemens Lotus 23 SP (which I brought online from Hear Better) is a super powerful self-digital HA (I got the trimmer model). It has noise cancellation, but not directional microphone.

http://www.oticonusa.com/ -> Consumers -> Severe Hearing Loss Products

http://www.phonak.com/com/b2c/en/home.html -> products and solutions -> Nadia S


The Oticon Digifocus II costed me $2700 (brought 2003), the Phonak Nadia S costed me $1500 (brought August 2010), and the Siemens Lotus 23 SP (brought 2015 online) costs me $325. If you have a light hearing loss, you don't need a fancy HA. Just about any HA will do. Just remember that HA dealers get paid more if the HA costs more. For a low end HA, try to spend under $1000. If you spend over $3000, you are getting ripped off.

Lyric HA fits inside your ear - hassle-free.


Some economical HAs (there are others) are at

http://www.amazon.com/ -> search for siemens lotus hearing aid
https://www.lifeear.com/ (not classified as a HA)

I have no clue on how good they are, so check the reviews. Do your homework - I will NOT be responsible for any purchase especially online. Let me know if there is any problem - I will pull the offending website off this website.

I noticed a few do not have a setting for high-frequency. So ignore those models if you have a high frequency loss. When checking reviews. I give more weights to reviews outside the company in question (i.e., reviews are not on the company's website). Also, you should be familiar with the various settings - you will not have a help of an audiologist - do not expect to put on the HA and everything magically works.

If you are very poor, you may be able to get a HA via Lions Clubs International. They take donated HA (usually older models), repair them, and sell them at low cost. Also consider donating your old HAs - help an unfortunate plus get a tax break.

http://www.donateglasses.org/hearingaids.html [dated?]

A good tip on HA maintenance is at


[Note: I cannot find part 1.]

There are HA covers to protect HA from sweat.


I never tried them, so I do not know how good they work.

If you are interested in past history of HA's, see Hearing Aid Museum website


Also, there are some books about audiology and HA. Go to

http://www.thieme.com -> audiology

I never read any HA book, so I can not guarantee how good they are.

There is an interesting talk about super directional HAs.


and occlusion effect


You can buy HA parts at


You can fix your HA online instead of thru a HA dealer.


expertaidrepair.com also fix HA, but BBB gives them a F so I advice not using them. Again, do your homework before spending $$$ online. Again, I will NOT be responsible for any purchase especially online. Let me know if any website is problematic and I will pull it off this website.

You can buy an earmold online.


Again, I never did, so use their service at your own risk.

There are some researches in making earmold using a 3D printer. See


Many insurances and medicare cover audiograms, but not HA. If you buy online, request from the seller for a chart that shows the signal boost (frequency vs. dB amplification). And then, match it with your audiogram chart.

Again, you shouldn't have to pay several thousands if you have just a minor hearing loss.

2. Phones and Cellphones

If you have trouble with the phone, consider obtaining a CapTel phone.


A captionist will type whatever the opposite person is saying in near realtime. For many states, if you qualify, you can obtain a CapTel phone for free or for a heavily discounted price.

If you have high speed internet, you can use a captioning service from your computer using WebCapTel.


You will have to enter two numbers, your phone numbers and the recipient phone numbers. They will dial you first, and then, the person you are trying to reach.

Other captioning services also provide similiar services. The captioning service is free and provided by the government. Understand that the poor captionist is typing everything the opposite person is speaking, so if the recipicient is speaking super duper fast, you will probably experience delay time.

Also, I recommend that you do NOT use CapTel/WebCapTel to pass sensitive informations (SSN, credit card #, etc) since everything will be entered into their computers. If you must pass credit card #, I recommend you obtain a credit card that use ShopSafe (e.g., Fia Card via Fidelity). Then you can create one-time credit card # with a specific value. This credit card information can only be used only once so it is okay if this information is in their computers.

If you have a smartphone which can do multiple things at once, at least 3G signal speed, and lot of data or uses wifi, you probably can use WebCapTel while on the road. If you have an Android phone, you could install wireless CapTel (Sprint).

http://www.sprint800.com/wireless-captel-sprint (wireless CapTel (Sprint))

Many cellphones (especially older ones) are not compatible with hearing aids. Cellphones are "hearing aid" rated: M1 or T1 (poor), M2 or T2 (fair), M3 or T3 (good) and M4 or T4 (excellent). Find out the cellphone rating of your cellphone. If your cellphone have a poor rating or you want to use two ears, use a headset (see next section).


There are special t-coil cellphone headsets like T-link, Hatis, and Noizfree - I'm sure there are others. [As of 1/15, T-link models have been discontinued. I now use a Noizfree headset.] See


Hatis headset was the first headset for hearing aid users. Way back in 2003, a Hatis saleman told me that CDMA network (used by Sprint, Verizon, and those whom piggyback on those networks) were better for their headset - I don't know the situation for today. AT&T and T-Mobile use GSM network. Verizon and Sprint use CDMA network.

Also there are bluetooth t-coil cellphone headsets like ClearSound (Geermarc), Beetle, and others. See


There are probably cheaper places and sales here and there, so surf around the web. Also, there probably other models I am not aware of - new models keep popping up.

If a HoH person, with low hearing loss, likes to use a cellphone without a hearing aid, consider getting a ClearSounds® ClearDigital AC100 Amplified Cellular Phone or Max-Easy Cell Phone.

http://www.hitec.com/productDetail.asp_Q_catID_E_112_A_subCatID_E_190_A_productID_E_412 http://www.fourcorners.com/product_details_max_easy.aspx

If your phone or cellphone does not ring loud enough, consider getting a Serene Innovations Super Loud Cell/Phone Ringer/Flasher or a LightOn Cell Phone Alerter


If you are able to change/increase the ringtone, consider using mp3gain.


On a console

mp3gain -g 30 {ringtone mp3]

will increase the volume by 30dB.

3. Videophone

There are many videophones which use high speed internet. The viewing will be more crisp (and easier to lip-read the other person) if An incomplete list is