Purpose: The purpose of this study was to compare the benefits of 3 types of remote microphone hearing assistance technology (HAT), adaptive digital broadband, adaptive frequency modulation (FM), and fixed FM, through objective and subjective measures of speech recognition in clinical and real-world settings.
Method: Participants included 11 adults, ages 16 to 78 years, with primarily moderate-to-severe bilateral hearing impairment (HI), who wore binaural behind-the-ear hearing aids; and 15 adults, ages 18 to 30 years, with normal hearing. Sentence recognition in quiet and in noise and subjective ratings were obtained in 3 conditions of wireless signal processing.
Results: Performance by the listeners with HI when using the adaptive digital technology was significantly better than that obtained with the FM technology, with the greatest benefits at the highest noise levels. The majority of listeners also preferred the digital technology when listening in a real-world noisy environment. The wireless technology allowed persons with HI to surpass persons with normal hearing in speech recognition in noise, with the greatest benefit occurring with adaptive digital technology.
Conclusion: The use of adaptive digital technology combined with speechreading cues would allow persons with HI to engage in communication in environments that would have otherwise not been possible with traditional wireless technology.