Have You Met My Friend Roger?

People with hearing loss who embrace assistive technology often do so with a passion. And why not? These deceptively simple-looking marvels mean the difference between connecting and isolation

We love to tell people, whether they’re interested or not, about our amazing hearing aids, sound processors, streamers, and wireless units that connect us to our music, TVs and other people. 

My hearing aid and cochlear implant are compatible through the Resound MiniMic2, which brings the world directly into my ears. Users of other hearing technology brands use similar, life-changing devices, as my guest writer, Alan Dion, who talks about his amazing new pen. 

 

Have You Met My Friend Roger?

By Alan Dion

 

I was first introduced to Roger about three years ago and the impact to my life has been wonderful.

Let me explain who, or rather, what Roger is, and then I’ll tell you about how he has helped me.

Roger is a pen-shaped device made by Phonak that uses a proprietary FM technology picks up sounds and sends them directly to my hearing aids. It can be worn on a lanyard around the neck, used hand-held, or laid down on a flat surface.

The technology behind Roger is amazing, but in concept it is really very straight forward. It’s like a radio transmitter and my hearing aids are receivers. Simple, eh?

Let me tell you of some of the ways that I have used Roger, and you’ll see why I refer to “it” as my friend.

I often go to courses and seminars, where I would try for a seat in the front with an unobstructed view of the speaker. I still seemed to miss more that I hear, unless the talk was in a hearing-looped environment, which is quite rare. On my first lecture with Roger, I asked the speaker if he would mind wearing my device. Once assured that it was harmless, he said OK. I heard the entire talk!

Now, whenever I attend a talk, rally, lecture, seminar, I ask the person up front to wear the pen and very rarely do I receive an objection. It’s now a pleasure to go to these types of events again. I even once asked a yoga instructor to wear it; she was reluctant at first but agreed to give it a go. Following her would have been impossible before, but now I pick up over 80% of her instruction, which is good enough for me.

Probably my favorite use of Roger has been during ballroom dancing. For many years my wife and I made a pretty fair dance couple. But slowly it was getting harder for me – not only was the music become quieter, it seemed they were also turning down the bass. Without the bass I couldn’t get the beat, and no beat means no more dancing. Much to my wife’s chagrin, we began dancing less and finally stopped altogether.

About five or six years after we stopped dancing, I found Roger. With my older hearing aids turned up and with Roger placed immediately below the loud speaker, I was able to hear the music and the beat again. I could dance once more. We were rusty and needed lots of practice, but we have managed to revive a beloved pastime.

In a group situation, any amount of time with hearing aids is too much time. However, with its directional ability, my friend Roger allows me to get more out of conversations than before. It is still not perfect, and I have to make sure that many other communication factors are looked after, but with Roger I’m doing much better in group environments.

It has also created a wonderful invisible leash. I discovered this when my wife wore my Roger, she could walk away and still let me know where she was all the time. She wore the pen and I wore the hearing aids. At a crowded art show in Vancouver we were often in different rooms, but she was able to keep me informed of her whereabouts. However, while she can talk and I can hear,  the reverse doesn’t work. But we have an agreement: when she says “come here”, I do it!

 

Photos courtesy of Phonak.

About Gael Hannan

Gael Hannan is a writer, speaker and advocate on hearing loss issues. In addition to her weekly blog for HearingHealthMatters.org, which has an international following, Gael wrote the acclaimed book "The Way I Hear It: A Life with Hearing Loss". She is regularly invited to present her uniquely humorous and insightful work to appreciative audiences around the world. Gael has received many awards for her work, which includes advocacy for a more inclusive society for people with hearing loss. She lives with her husband on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.