August 2022 Newsletter
The FDA OTC hearing aid guidelines and BeHear
Last October, as required by the Hearing Aid Act of 2017, the FDA finally published regulations for over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids. After a comment period and subsequent changes, the guidelines are scheduled to go into effect in mid-October. They apply to hearing aids marketed directly to consumers with mild to moderate hearing loss over the age of 18 – a group that includes about 1 in 7 American adults. Although we have never advertised BeHear hearing amplifiers as hearing aids (as they are not medical devices), the new regulations are intended to encourage people to treat their hearing loss by removing barriers to purchasing solutions and lowering prices, which are also our goals! Read the second article below to learn where we stand on the new regulations.
IN THIS NEWSLETTER:
- BeHear wins top prize in international competition
- What the FDA guidelines mean for BeHear
- How to get great sound from a flat-screen TV
One last thing before you dive into this newsletter. The next time you disagree with someone about the TV volume you should know that hearing loss is a clarity issue, not a volume issue!
The BeHear Team at Alango Technologies
BeHear wins international competition
OPPO, a leading global smart device brand, has sponsored the first OPPO Research Institute Innovation Accelerator competition, which aims to promote a better and more inclusive future based on “virtuous innovation.” Announced on August 28, the winners were selected from a total of 536 entries submitted by technology experts, entrepreneurs, and social science researchers from 39 countries and regions around the world. The ten winning teams will share the $460,000 prize fund and other resources provided by OPPO and its partners. Alango-BeHear is honored to have been recognized by OPPO and looks forward to using the program’s resources to expand access to hearing enhancement solutions, worldwide.
What the FDA guidelines mean for BeHear
Audiologists and other hearing care professionals may view the OTC ruling with alarm because it allows consumers direct access to medical devices, effectively bypassing their services. However, statistics show that the majority of Americans with mild-to-moderate hearing loss do not visit a hearing professional in the first place. The new ruling, which will encourage competition among manufacturers and reduce prices, will improve access to hearing aids and thereby place more solutions in the hands (and ears!) of those who previously would have left their hearing loss untreated.
This is the same goal we have for BeHear hearing amplifiers: to allow people with mild-to-moderate hearing loss to obtain affordable, self-fit hearing enhancement solutions. The fact that big box outlets like Best Buy and Walmart, pharmacies, and convenience stores are establishing dedicated space for hearing health is a welcome sign that the barriers to treatment of hearing loss are diminishing. We are confident that BeHear solutions, which were designed from the beginning to meet the highest standards of quality and customer service, can now reach a wider audience. You can already find BeHear ACCESS, BeHear SMARTO, and BeHear PROXY on the Best Buy online shop.
Getting great sound from a flat-screen TV
Larry Kavanaugh, a hearing health advocate who originally met the BeHear team several years back at an HLAA annual convention, recently wrote us to share his experiences using the HearLink PLUS transmitter. Larry wrote:
“I just received the HearLink PLUS from DAK. As you know, television audio is so poor on today’s flat screen models. My TV does not have Bluetooth and the only output is optical. So, the HearLink PLUS seemed like the perfect way to add fuller sound to my TV. I connected it – easily – and paired it with my portable speaker. Now I enjoy great sound!”Larry Kavanaugh, hearing health advocate
HearLink PLUS uses either an analog or optical connection to the audio source (in this case, a flat-screen TV) to transmit sound wirelessly to a Bluetooth receiver, eliminating room reverberation and ambient noise that can degrade the listening experience. BeHear headset users get the extra benefit of having the crisp and clear TV audio personalized to suit their unique hearing profile. Get a discount when you purchase any BeHear amplifier (SMARTO, ACCESS, or PROXY) bundled with HearLink PLUS.
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BeHear PROXY neck speaker reduces listening fatigue
Seema uses BeHear PROXY neck speaker to reduce listening fatigue at work, when receiving travel requirements from clients on the go, and at home, to enjoy TV without disturbing the other family members.
With BeHear PROXY I can hear all the details…
My name is Seema, and I’m a travel consultant. I mostly deal with business travel clients. My clients typically call me in the middle of the day, often from very noisy spaces.
The success of my work totally depends on my not missing any details while receiving travel requirements. Sometimes, even the tone which is used when relaying details will determine the type of services I choose to offer.
I have a small hearing loss in one ear. I do not wear hearing aids, I’m not quite there yet, but I thought it would be really interesting to try the PROXY. I have completely fallen in love with this product. It’s a dream come true.
The BeHear PROXY neck speaker is comfortable and convenient
It’s very light and comfortable on my shoulders, around my neck. Its features are very accessible – the volume, turning it off and on, moving from earphones, which are very comfortable and stay in my ear, they do not fall out. And they are put away very easily.
BeHear PROXY enables me to work hands free, which is incredibly important. I can get up, I can move around, I can write, I can copy, I can research, while I’m listening. The clarity and the sharpness of the sound is incredible. I don’t miss a single word of any conversation.
When I’m in the office, I use earphones, for privacy. And when I’m alone, at home, I work without them. Since having PROXY I have not gone one single day without using it.
“I never imagined I would love BeHear PROXY more than my Dyson!”
I have to say that I also noticed that I feel so much less tired at the end of the day since I apparently am exerting so much less energy focusing and concentrating on hearing. The BeHear PROXY neck speaker reduces listening fatigue.
Watching TV has also become a pleasure. I can hear at my own volume. I do not bother anybody, no one else disturbs me. And no one hears me saying “shush” anymore. Thank you so much BeHear PROXY for this incredible experience!
“I can’t imagine having just my hearing aids, anymore”
In this blog post we’re sharing comments from Beth, a singer and music teacher who explains how PROXY helps her hear better with hearing aids. She started using the BeHear PROXY neck speaker a few weeks ago and was amazed by the sound quality, comfort, ease-of-use, and flexibility of the multi-functional hearing amplifier. She uses BeHear PROXY to listen to music and podcasts while exercising, speak hands-free in mobile calls, and tutor students over Zoom.
I decided to get hearing aids when I realized I was becoming a burden
My name is Beth, and I’m a cantor, which means that I chant religious services, and I also prepare young people to chant and sing religious text. And this means that I really need my ears.
About 4-4.5 years ago, I noticed a drop in the hearing in my right ear. I noticed this because if I held my phone to my right ear I couldn’t hear so well, but if I moved it to my left ear, I suddenly heard very clearly.
So I went to an audiologist and I was diagnosed with a hearing loss. They told me I wasn’t quite a candidate for hearing aids yet, so I waited a while, and I wondered about it, and asked myself “do I want hearing aids?”
Eventually, there really wasn’t a choice; when you’re going “what, what, what?” every other sentence, you realize you’re becoming a burden to the people around you.
So then I took on the process of researching hearing aids, because there are so many kinds, and which one do I buy, and it’s a big investment. And I finally settled on a brand, and I’ve been wearing hearing aids now for about three years, and I enjoy them very much, they’ve made a huge difference in my quality of life.
With PROXY I don’t always need my hearing aids in to hear better
Then I heard about the BeHear PROXY. When I first looked at the videos online I became intrigued, because it seemed like it was offering a middle ground; I didn’t always need to have my hearing aids in to hear well!
My hearing aids are comfortable, but because of my work, and because of my active lifestyle, I have to have them in from early in the morning until late at night. I can’t be in front of the TV or the computer without them, and my ears get a bit tired wearing hearing aids for 12-15 hours. They also don’t always make my sound 100% clear. My hearing is definitely better with the hearing aids, but there are still certain things that I don’t hear clearly.
When I first put on the BeHear PROXY I discovered that there’s another “space” in this hearing world, and that is one that I can use in my home very comfortably. The ear pieces are extremely comfortable, they’re soft and they fit very easily.
The BeHear PROXY is very light on my neck. That was another thing: when I opened the box, I loved the design. It’s attractive, it’s easy to wear, and the retractors for the ear pieces work so beautifully, and are so simple to use.
So, when I’m walking outside, and I do walk about 3-5 miles every day, they’re really comfortable to wear and to use, and to listen to my music, or my podcasts, and I don’t have to have my phone in my hand, and I don’t have the headphones on, which get tight and bulky, after a while, when you’re walking for an hour and a half, that’s what happens.
The amazing speakers are fabulous for Zoom calls
My favorite, my absolute favorite feature, are the amazing speakers. The sound is so clear, and so crisp, when it comes into my ears, that it’s unlike anything I’ve heard for a long, long time, even with my fabulous hearing aids. So I really really appreciate that, particularly when I’m teaching children on Zoom, or when I’m in classes on Zoom. I have a 3-hour writing class that I’m taking, and that’s a long time to be listening. The BeHear is just a fabulous thing to be using for that purpose.
I also like that I can adjust the volume easily, with the BeHear, and that I have the app that I can do that through as well. Your hearing aids have a set position, and it’s a really good position, but sometimes I feel like I’d like to be able to turn up the volume as well, and I can do that with my BeHear PROXY.
I wish I knew about PROXY before I got my hearing aid
One thing that happened for me, when I found out that I needed hearing aids, was a little bit of difficulty with this change in my self-image. And I was a bit uncomfortable with the idea of having hearing aids. For me, BeHear PROXY would have been, if I had had it at the time I was considering hearing aids, a great way to ease into the transition. BeHear PROXY gives me flexibility; it gives me a really comfortable way to experience hearing amplification.
I think in retrospect, if this had been available to me when I was in my search for hearing aids, and debating, I would totally have bought this. BeHear PROXY is very reasonably priced and would have been a great way to have an experience with hearing amplification without having to invest a lot of money, and get involved, and worry about all of the implications. This is a really comfortable, easy to use instrument, that gives me what I need.
If I had known about BeHear PROXY when I was first dealing with getting hearing aids, I think it would have been a great help in navigating my issues of self-image as I came to terms with the fact that I was going to need hearing aids.
Bottom line: the sound quality of BeHear PROXY goes above and beyond any expectation
I love the sound quality of BeHear PROXY. It goes above and beyond anything I could have expected. While I have good hearing aids, this gives me good flexibility and options that I didn’t have before. I love using BeHear PROXY with my computer, I love using it with my television, I love using it when I exercise, and listening to my cell phone, to my podcasts, to my music. I love being able to answer the phone, when I’m in the house, and it’s completely hands-free. And the sound quality when I speak to people, is good as well. They hear me very clearly, and I hear other people more clearly as well. And so, it’s a great, great product. I’ve really enjoyed using it and I’m so grateful that I have it now. I can’t imagine having just my hearing aids, anymore. I will definitely be using the BeHear PROXY in the years to come.
I can listen to a podcast whilst mowing the lawn!
Before buying the BeHear ACCESS, I had NHS behind-the-ear hearing aids for five years and needed them to be readjusted after three. This required waiting for an appointment with the audiologist. Luckily that was before Covid and the lockdowns. One of the great things about the BeHear hearables is that if I feel my hearing has deteriorated, I can just use the built-in hearing assessment any time I like (lockdown or not) and save the settings in the App’s library.
My original reason for moving on from my hearing aids, was I wanted to use Bluetooth. My hobby is Family History and our U3A group face to face meetings had had to be cancelled during lockdown, so we trialed Zoom meetings with great success. Unfortunately, my laptop sound is not of sufficient quality or level for my hearing, and I was losing a lot of the conversation.
I researched a number of available Bluetooth adapters such as neck loops as well as hearables products, and although there are other hearables that also have a self-assessment feature, the BeHear wearables looked to be the only ones that could offer the range of features I was looking for and the level of audio gain that my high frequency hearing loss required.
When I had my NHS (National Health Service) hearing aids readjusted previously I had also had the Telecoil feature enabled as I had found theatre acoustics and reverberation a problem. The BeHear ACCESS provided the perfect solution with the in-built Telecoil.
Having had the BeHear ACCESS for a while now, I have been very pleased with the purchase. There are a number of activities that have improved that I had not considered originally; for example, I can listen to a podcast whilst mowing the lawn or adjust the sound settings on the fly for a difficult sound situation. The wind noise (with or without the supplied wind mufflers) is much less of a problem than with the BTE.
With the extra boost these give to my high frequency hearing, I can appreciate bird song again.
Finally, my BTE hearing aids pick up unwanted noise from behind. This is particularly bothersome in a restaurant. Sitting with my back to a wall doesn’t solve the problem as the hard surface reflects the sound onto the hearing aids. With lockdown coming to an end I am looking forward to enjoying restaurants and theatre shows.
Negatives are few and small. The NHS hearing aids are more comfortable; I did find the earbuds a little difficult to get used to and had to use the smallest size (perhaps I have small ear canals) and they can make my ears sore if I have them in all day. The Bluetooth range would be better if it was version 5.0 rather than Version 4.2, but connection can be made to two devices e.g., laptop and phone concurrently, which is really useful.
You’ve really hit a home run with BeHear PROXY!
I am standing in my kitchen now, listening to “Abraham, Martin and John” through the device’s speakers (stereo enhancement turned on). It sounds AWESOME, and yet if I take it off, it is certainly not loud enough to bother my next door neighbors, like my TV used to…
The sound fidelity is crystal clear, the tonal qualities are just right, I can hear fine nuances in the music, it is comfortable to wear and it is so easy to use. I love the fact that I do not have to use the earbuds. I don’t want to stop listening.
Now I’m mellowing out to the sound of Barbra Streisand singing “What’s it All About, Alfie?” I am in music heaven!
A few weeks ago I had created a personalized hearing profile in the BeHear app when I reviewed the BeHear ACCESS. Is it possible to copy that hearing profile over to the BeHear PROXY, or will I need to get my hearing tested again?
I really love listening to my music library, while I wear the BeHear PROXY. It lets me consistently listen to pleasing, high fidelity audio, without the need to use earbuds or headphones. When walking, driving and engaging in other activities, the BeHear PROXY hearing amplifier should enable users to clearly hear, and be aware of, all that is going on around them.
Now, finally, I can enjoy my music at a volume that is loud enough for me to hear it, without bothering anyone. Life is good. You’ve really hit a home run with BeHear PROXY.
How to keep your ears young and your mind sharp
Did you know that hearing health impacts not only your physical, but also your emotional and mental wellbeing? Most people don’t realize how important, or how complex hearing is. It’s the one sense we just don’t think about.
We experience the richness of life through our ears and don’t even notice. If a grilled cheese sandwich doesn’t sizzle, it doesn’t arouse our appetite in the same way. When we want to describe a city as exciting, we tend to focus on the bustling crowd and the urban beat. For nature it’s the bubbling of a brook, chirping birds or rustling leaves.
Sound injects feeling into experiences that would otherwise be mute, flat, and distant.
When we truly understand how complex the hearing mechanism is, it is easier to understand why it is a good idea to make hearing health part of our self-care anti-aging regimen, to maintain mental and physical wellness.
Hearing loss and cognitive function are related. The correlation between untreated hearing loss and cognitive decline is well documented. Hearing loss makes social interaction more difficult, reduces the ability to connect with others, and often leads to isolation and decreased physical activity. This results in a marked decline in physical and even mental health. Recent research has uncovered that untreated hearing loss in mid-life is the most significant factor in the later onset of dementia(!).
This discovery is shocking, but it is also good news. Awareness of the significance of hearing health, coupled with the realization that hearing degradation is a natural part of life, is the first step to implementing mitigatory care.
The challenge is in overcoming the psychological and financial barriers to seeking care. 15% of the general population experience some level of hearing loss but because degradation is gradual, many don’t recognize the decline until it becomes serious. On average it takes 7 years from the moment a person accepts that he or she is experiencing hearing loss to the point where they start to seek treatment.
When hearing loss is ignored and left untreated, the auditory system is deprived of sound, resulting in subsequent atrophy of the auditory nerves and speech processing areas of the brain. In other words, untreated hearing loss goes beyond the ears to affect the brain itself. Unfortunately, technological solutions cannot fully compensate for the physical and mental capabilities which are lost when ears go untreated. Severe hearing loss needs to be treated with hearing aids or surgery, solutions that are both expensive and complicated.
So how can we attain the best possible hearing health and maintain a high quality of life, for as long as possible?
3 steps for keeping the ears young and the mind sharp
Step 1: Awareness
Understanding that hearing matters can help us protect ourselves and those we love. Try to notice if you or someone close to you frequently asks people to repeat themselves, has trouble making out conversations in noisy places, or gets frustrated trying to understand dialogue on TV.
Step 2: Prevention
Age-related hearing loss is something most of us will eventually experience ourselves or in someone close to us. Preventative care can help delay onset so it is a good idea to protect the ears whenever possible. Avoid environments that are extremely loud, especially when the volume remains intense over extended periods of time. But what if you are a factory worker? Or work in a bar? Prepare in advance! Use protective gear, a headset or earplugs. It’s better to be safe than sorry!
Step 3: Get hearing help early!
Implementing assistive hearing solutions sooner, rather than later, addresses hearing challenges when the problem is mild to moderate. This is a way to keep the ears young and the mind sharp and help avoid worse problems in the future. BeHear hearables for example, are hearing enhancement solutions that provide the audio quality of hearing aids at the price of competing hearables. BeHear’s sophisticated technology provides a customizable solution that enables the wearer to self-tune and control his or her own hearing without having to go through the complex and expensive process of getting a hearing aid.