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What are the Advantages of an Ear-Level FM Receiver versus Body Worn?

Linda K. Thibodeau, PhD, CCC-A/SLP

August 13, 2007

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Question

Are there any data that you have collected that show a clear, functional superiority to an ear-level FM receiver versus a body worn? A lot of parents contact me desiring to have an ear-level system for their child, but the district is reluctant to purchase it as they say that a body-worn system is just as good.

Answer

That is a very interesting question to ask. We have a publication in press in Language, Speech, Hearing Services in the Schools that includes some objective verification of the body-worn systems compared to the ear-level systems. Even the body-worn systems with the older protocol of 65 dB input vs. 80 dB input typically showed a 10 dB FM advantage when coupled with neckloops. Then we compared that to the ear-level technology where we interfaced the FM receiver with the personal hearing aid. Then we compared THAT to advanced digital technology with the personal hearing aid. The results don't necessarily show a clear superiority, but the variation becomes less across the newer, ear-level units that we tested. This study basically shows how things have changed over the technology. It does not show in a behavioral way that children perform better with one system over the other, but it will give you some data to show that the newer systems are less variable and more likely to achieve a consistent +10 FM advantage.

Reference

Schafer, E., Thibodeau, L., Whalen, H., & Overson, G. (2007). Electroacoustic Evaluation of Frequency-Modulated Receivers Interfaced with Personal Hearing Aids. Language, Speech, Hearing Services in the Schools. In Press.

Dr. Linda Thibodeau is an Associate Professor at the University of Texas at Dallas since 1997 where she co-directs the Pediatric Aural Habilitation Training Specialist Project. Prior to that she worked at the University of Texas at Austin, at the University of Texas Speech and Hearing Institute, in otolaryngology clinics, and in the public schools. She teaches in the areas of Amplification and Pediatric Aural Habilitation. Her research involves evaluation of the speech perception of listeners with hearing loss and auditory processing problems as well as evaluation of amplification systems and assistive listening devices (ALDs) designed to help those persons. She consults with several school districts and manufacturers regarding FM arrangements in the classroom. Her interests include serving as the co-chair of the ANSI committee to develop a standard for the Electroacoustic Evaluation of ALDs; and serving as Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of the Academy of Rehabilitative Audiology. She is a 2006 Contributing Editor for Audiology Online.


linda k thibodeau

Linda K. Thibodeau, PhD, CCC-A/SLP

Dr. Linda Thibodeau is a Professor at the University of Texas at Dallas in the Audiology Doctoral program since 1996. She teaches courses in Pediatric Aural Habilitation and conducts research with wireless assistive technology. She serves as a consultant to several school districts and hearing aid manufacturers and co-chairs the ANSI committee for Electroacoustic Evaluation of Hearing Assistive Devices/Systems.


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