Monday, April 4, 2016

Apple: Hard on the Hard-of-Hearing

Hi, Dr. Chatterji: I read your piece in the New York Times on Sunday, April 3, on "The Power of C.E.O. Activism." It was interesting to read how Tim Cook’s voiced opposition to a state law prohibiting same-sex marriage resulted in a boost to the Apple brand, at least wrt to intent by consumers to purchase Apple's products. I couldn’t help thinking of Apple’s recent petition to the FCC to exempt the iPhone from the hearing-aid compatibility standard. If granted by the FCC, Apple will be able to substitute its proprietary BT protocol, which links the iPhone with Apple’s MFi (Made for iPhone) hearing aids. Under that linking protocol, users of the Apple-compatible aids will only be able to link with the iPhone for phone call accessibility, and the iPhone (7?) will only be compatible with the MFi aids. This would create a lockbox for both the aids and the iPhone; users will be stuck with that option for telephone calls. In contrast, the current FCC compatibility standards are inter-operable across cellphone and hearing-aid brands. Even the Bluetooth Hearing Aid Working Group opposes Apple’s attempt. (Links to the relevant docs, and BT’s Working Group chair’s response, are in the article below). When reading your article, it seemed ironic that Cook was being seen as an advocate for same-sex marriage choice, while eliminating options for its customers with disabilities. Because it has to do with Apple’s practices, products and disability access, it is a much stronger expression of their real beliefs than a comment on a hot-button policy issue (like same-sex marriage). But, this hearing-loss accessibility gambit on Apple’s part may get less press….so Cook has, perhaps, chosen his battles well. Time will tell. Read more here, including what the Chair of BT’s Hearing Aid Working Group thinks: Thanks for writing about this….it was very interesting, on many levels. k Kathi Mestayer

Monday, November 2, 2015

Friday, September 18, 2015

email to Dr. Chris Cassle, PCAST (see below) re: hearing aids and PSAPs

From: Kathi Mestayer Subject: President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) Question Date: September 18, 2015 at 11:08:51 AM EDT To: Cc: kathi mestayer Dr. Cassell: The market is broken, but the answer is not to open the floodgates to cheap, ineffective technology, like many of the PSAPs I see on the internet for sale. The problem with this approach is that people buy the cheap devices, and then are disappointed with their performance, esp in noisy situations. That leads to the "dresser-drawer" phenomenon.....the "aids" are in the dresser drawer, and the users don't try anything that might actually help. If the first step doesn't work, the next step doesn't happen. Not a stretch, considering how people are already denying their hearing loss and refusing to treat/mitigate it. "Dad tried aids, but they didn't work. End of story." I hear that a LOT, and that's for actual hearing aids, not PSAPs. The market may actually be fixing itself, via Costco and others. The aids are made by major mfgrs, and are significantly less expensive than they would be at traditional outlets. And Costco's return policies and customer service are pretty good, from what I've heard from people who have gotten aids there. Must be spotty, simply due to the size of the chain, but audiologists are spotty, too, truth be told. There are no significant barriers to selling PSAPs. There are only barriers to calling them "hearing aids," per FDA regs. So, PSAP mfgrs are free to market them at will....and are becoming very clever at describing them in terms that give a good picture of what they do, without using the "hearing aid" words. In fact, on Amazon, one PSAP was $109.99 a pair, and advertised that you would Save $2190.00! Compared with what? No hint given. I’ve posted a question online, but no reply yet. This is major snake oil, so please take that into account when tearing down that wall... k Kathi Mestayer Author, Be Hear Now on HearingAidsRCool Blog Twitter

Monday, July 6, 2015

Sounds in nature: count those "dees!"

Read about it here: Chickadees warn each other and, coincidentally, other critters, of danger using their calls. More "dees" in the Chickadee means bigger danger. And a quiet, high-pitched "sweeet" means....a flying predator! Keep your ears open!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Sound matters!

The U.S. Green Building Council has added acoustics credits to its LEED certification program.  The Hearing Health Foundation has posted an article about the credits and the rationales behind them, which include speech privacy, background noise reduction and better speech intelligibility.
Hearing Health Foundation

Monday, November 24, 2014's okay

 Forgetting is okay!  Read about neurogenesis, exercise and forgetting here:

Monday, October 20, 2014

Finger-Wag of the Week

Oprah's channel, OWN, broadcast and interview by her of Pema Chodron on Sunday.
The captions were pretty accurate.
But they were so out-of-phase with the speech that they were basically useless for someone who is listening and reading at the same time.  Major-channel captions are almost always in synch for this reason.  And the FCC rules say they have to be.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

"Start Making Sense" -- lead article on Be Hear Now, Beacon Reader.

How our brains and ears collaborate to help us hear, and conspire to pull the rug out from under us when pretty much anything goes wrong.  Central and peripheral auditory processing, Your Brain on Noise, bit-rot in your auditory software.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

"Be Hear Now" on Beacon Reader

The Be Hear Now project on Beacon Reader is a "go!"  Stay tuned for news and views on sound, hearing, culture, science, you name it....
Be Hear Now

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Be Hear Now Deadline for Support Approaching!

The deadline for supporting Be Hear Now on Beacon Reader is Friday, October 3!
You can sign on for as little as $5/month for 6 months.
Think about it....and take a look:
Be Hear Now

Wednesday, September 24, 2014