A Hearing Technology Moron

Gael Hannan
March 5, 2019

After 40-odd years of using various pieces of assistive technology, you’d think I’d be well past the basics – you know, like knowing how to turn it on and off.

But I haven’t. Technology continues to floor me as much as it did when I was in my 20s. At that time, the only electronic, electric (I think those two things are different but I’m not sure) and battery-powered devices in my life were a corded, rotary dial telephone, a television, a radio and my hearing aid. Oh, yeah, and the vinyl record player.

I didn’t know how any of them worked. The magic that sprang to life when I turned it on, was just that – magic. Turning things on and off were the sum total I knew about this stuff. And that was OK – because other people did know how it worked – they were the people that invented and made these devices, and other random engineering types. Their expertise meant that I could continue believing in magic.

These days, I’m more of a battery-operated-and-charger person than ever before. My hearing assistive technology alone now has its own shelf in my bedroom.

          2 Hearing aids, both for the same ear, worn for different reasons

1 Cochlear implant sound processor

1 Remote assistant for my sound processor

1 MiniMic2 for my sound processor

1 DryAid for hearing aids and sound processor

1 Smartphone

1 TV streamer

All of these must be cleaned, charged and/or filled with fresh batteries on demand. I do pretty well, considering the number of cords floating around that all look alike – thank heavens for Apple products that stick with basic white – and different bits on the ends of them. I had been doing so well recently in keeping it all together that when I recently got the last thing on the above list – a TV streamer – I thought to myself, “I’ve got this…I can put this together myself.” Usually anything with more than one cord and with not one, but two, instruction booklets, is a task I immediately hand over to the Hearing Husband to set up. But how difficult could it be? As it turns out it wasn’t too difficult, apart from a few tactical errors and one issue that was not my fault.  

On a visit to Denmark last September, my friend Aida Regel Poulson, a renowned European hearing advocate, introduced me to her TV streamer. I was smitten – it brought the TV sound directly into my hearing aid and sound processor, while allowing the hearing people (our husbands) to listen to it with their perfect ears that they’re so proud of.

All was good in the set up except that in the manual, it referred to turning the device “ON”.  But it has no “ON/OFF” switch, so I assume that ‘plugging it in’ is a euphemism for turning it on. But that took at least an extra 5 minutes of my time. It seemed longer. Also, I didn’t understand a little drawing that meant “take this little plastic thing off the tip before trying to plug it in”. There doesn’t appear to be any lasting damage due to my repeated attempts to drive the little sucker into the slot.

My next issue was the ‘pairing’ of my hearing devices to the streamer. I did what they said, and voila! It was fabulous. Later that evening, I started up my iPad to watch a Netflix show.  Hmmm, I had to re-pair it to my MiniMic2. Then the next morning, I had to re-pair again to the TV streamer. This can’t be right. I didn’t see anything in the manual, so I contacted my Cochlear rep, Dorota Simpson, who took precious time out of her weekend to reply.

Apparently, to have ALL the programs showing on my devices, when I paired the TV streamer, I should have hit the ‘pair’ button twice. I still don’t see where it says that in the manuals, but when I get frustrated, I can’t read properly. So now, as you can see by the pictures, I have multiple streams on my iPhone (used with my hearing aid) and my Remote Assistant. Regular, Telecoil, MiniMic2 and TV – I’m so proud.

So why am I telling you all this?  A few reasons – first, I write a weekly blog for HearingHealthMatters.org and this is #374. I’ve learned to take any idea I get and run with it. Second, some of you may also have a less-than-stellar mechanical aptitude and I want you know that you’re not alone. Don’t listen to people who say “this is so easy, any moron can use it.” And third, those of you who are detail-oriented and meticulously follow instructions and can improvise when an instruction is missing, I want to offer you a moment of envy (mine) and superiority (yours).

Technology is fabulous – if you know how to turn it on!


  1. Thanks for this, Gael. I need to do this “better” pairing of my HAs to the various Apple devices I own, also. I think my manual describes how to do it, but it’s not exactly easy. It will be worth the trouble in the end!

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