Use of Remote Microphones at Home

Jane Madell
September 29, 2020

This week’s Hearing Journal published an article by The Vanderbilt group (Thompson, Benitez-Berra and Tharpe) talking about the value of remote microphone systems for home use for children with hearing loss. I was delighted to see this article.

This is something I have been pushing for a long time.

The number or words a child hears is directly related to their vocabulary.  We know that both distance and noise will negatively effect what children hear. Even the best fit hearing aids do not solve the problems of distance and noise.  No one questions the recommendation of remote microphones for school but school is not the only place that children need to learn. We need to recognize the need for listening at home, at sports, at dance class etc.

Parents I have worked with report that wearing a remote microphone caused them to talk more. It reminded them that they were supposed to be talk, talk, talking to their children.

We know that 90% of what young children learn they learn by “overhearing”. If children do not hear their parents when they are a few feet away they do not have the ability to overhear.  Remote microphones will enable them to hear at a distance and in noise.

This particular study looked at the impact of RM systems on amount of caregiver talk, including child-directed speech, and the caregivers production of repetitions or other talk intended to alert or secure the child’s attention. The study used a LENA system with 9 pre-school children and their families. The RM system provided a 10 dB advantage to the incoming signal.  

The study showed that when children were using the RM system they had access to 11 more words/minute than when they were not using the RM system. This means that the children were exposed to 5,300 more caregiver words (42% increase) daily. WOW!!!

Caregivers talked more at a distance and had more child directed speech.

Until now, audiologists have been concerned that we should not recommend remote microphones until children are able to tell us what they hear and when there is something wrong with their technology. This study demonstrates the significant advantage to early use of remote microphones.

Let’s remember that infants and young children need to have the most optimal auditory access to learn language. Once a baby is no longer in a parent’s arms, once they are crawling or walking, they are often more than the ideal 3 feet way from the person who is talking.



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