In class this week, we spoke a lot this week about the concepts of treating the disability and treating the person. The conclusion is treating the person benefits everyone. That is seen with the Alive Inside: A Story about Music and Memory. In the documentary, viewers see the transformative power of music in people with dementia and other disabilities. As a disabled man myself, I was debating about my own treatment. Was it to my hearing loss or myself? For me, my treatment of hearing loss is mixed; both standardized and personalized.
So in the field of audiology, which is the medical field regarding hearing, there is a spectrum of hearing loss. Starting at mild and stopping at profound, each level represents a certain range of hearing loss. For example, people who have severe hearing loss should hear a baby crying unaided. This classification often dictated the type of hearing aids you will use. The testing as far as I can tell is the same. You go into a sound proof booth and you respond to a bunch of sounds. Your responses would be used to calculate the degree of loss. Then you would be told what type of hearing aids you could use or if you need implants. For young children with hearing
loss, the degree of loss would be used to figure out how get them “normal.” Should they sign or they have speech therapy (which is a whole another ballpark in the treatment of hearing loss)? That could be answered based on the spectrum and normally is up to the parents and their available resources. That is the standard part to me in my treatment. It tests the disability against a standard in a way that is not catered to the person. It dictates how the person should be treated
With the progression of technology, hearing aids has become more personal. Certain features can be programmed on and off of hearing aids. Certain hearing aids focused on different degrees of loss. When I was going through the process of getting new hearing aids last year, I tried on 3 hearing aids. Each of them was a vastly different experience. The one I ultimately chose is a model that focuses on eliminating wind sounds and auto-zoom to a level I personally like. It also learned from my environment. Those are features important to me and aren’t highlighted in every hearing aid. Unlike previous hearing aids, this model tried to learn from a selected algorithm. It was learning my life. In addition to the basic program in my hearing aid, I have a program that can adapt to bar scenes and also to one on one situations. People can request programs that might fit into their lives. I actually have a mute program that keeps the hearing aid on but there is no amplification. That program was requested to be tuned on by me and isn’t standard in hearing aids. It was a choice to turn it on as well as the bar scene program. With the advancement of technology, I think this added an element of personalization as certain programs can help hearing in situations important to the listens.
To me, audiology has become a balanced field. There is a concept of treating the disability while trying to test the degree of loss but with the inclusion of technology, there is a personal element. It does help that an audiologist is required to help program the hearing aids but the makers of hearing aides are allowing personalized options to be turned on. They are also introducing programs that are trying to learn the listener’s life. If that is not personal, I don’t know what is.