Meet Amanda Storkey, a 32-year-old teacher working in a high-school alternative education classroom who wears our latest Discover Next hearing instruments and streaming accessories. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Amanda needed a hearing care solution that could deliver superior sound performance in a classroom amid mask-wearing and physical distancing. “I was panicked and thought I might have to make a career change,” says Amanda, when she considered the possible barriers. “What’s that going to look like for me? What does teaching during a pandemic mean for somebody with a hearing loss or disability?
Amanda began to lose her hearing in her 20s due to a genetic illness, resulting in moderate-to-severe hearing loss in both ears. “At that time, I was working in a mainstream school and teaching in a critical role. I really felt like I was struggling.” To meet the challenges of her new world, Amanda took classes in lip reading and ASL, and started to use hearing aids.
Teachers know that staying connected to their students is essential, and Amanda adapted to the challenges of physical distancing and mask-wearing with a little help from the right hearing care solutions and accessories. “My career and what I do with kids means so much to me. I’m always teaching kids that there’s always another option—there’s another path to get you where you want to go.”
Amanda discovered that the cornerstone of hearing instruments on the Discover Next platform is adaptability to different listening environments through SoundCore, the engine behind the platform, which helps to improve sound quality, speech understanding, and spatial awareness. So, Amanda not only hears more but can experience a richer listening experience that delivers nuance and context, as well as a reduction of background noise, from HVAC systems to a classroom full of chatty, if masked, teenagers.
Amanda’s audiologist modified her hearing aids to include a manual mask program to help navigate the COVID landscape inside and outside the classroom. This program features specific adjustments to counteract the filter effects caused by mask-wearing that can reduce specific speech frequencies by up to 12 dB.* “With the latest Discover Next platform products, we introduced a new automatic feature called soft speech lift. “It provides a boost to soft speech sounds without elevating annoying low-level background noises,” says Douglas Baldwin, Unitron’s Senior Manager of Global Training and Development. “With existing features like soft speech lift, together with minor adjustments made by the HCP, the filter effects of masks can be accounted for.”
“It’s allowing me to hear clearly, and helps me to understand meaning and context in conversation,” says Amanda, who also notes the platform’s benefits to her classroom. “It eliminates a lot of stress, and provides confidence.”
Amanda also decided to add to her classroom technology to ensure a thriving classroom with personal protective equipment and physically distanced students. So, she accessorized. In addition to her Moxi™ Move R hearing aids powered by the Discover Next platform, Amanda added PartnerMic™, TV Connector, and Roger Select: “I rely on the accessories now,” says Amanda. “I wouldn’t be able to live my life the way I had before COVID if I didn’t have access to these hearing solutions.”
Everyday accessibility to changing sound environments is a tall order for people with hearing loss. However, the Discover Next platform and its streaming accessories helped Amanda access the confidence and connectivity she needed to create a successful learning environment for her students. “[This technology] has eliminated a lot of the guesswork in my day-to-day experiences as a teacher,” says Amanda. “When I go home at the end of the day, it allows me to be more present in my personal life because I’m not exhausted from teaching.”
Discover Next - the technology powering Amanda’s Moxi™ Move R rechargeable hearing aids, provides incredible sound performance and connectivity. These instruments can also directly connect to iOS and Android phones, and feature lithium-ion rechargeable technology proven to last all day – even when streaming. “I would say that I'm a heavy user of my hearing aids. I use them for those 18 hours and they've always lasted the entire day.”
PartnerMic™ - a sleek lapel microphone designed to support one-on-one conversations in any setting, be it the car, a restaurant, or at home: “If I’m working one-on-one with someone, or if I’m in a meeting, it really helps if the other person wears the PartnerMic.”
TV Connector - for use with computers (think Zoom meetings), teaching online and watching television: “I teach [my students] online in the afternoon. It feeds the voices from the students into my hearing aids. The system allows me to know when a kid enters or leaves the classroom virtually—there’s a little ding; there are little notifications that were a challenge before.”
Roger Select - a next-level multidirectional microphone that can be placed on a flat surface or worn: “One of the benefits of the Roger Select system is that you can select the direction where the audio is coming from. I will turn it off for different parts of the room so that I don’t hear feedback from the data projector or other technology.”
*Goldin A, Weinstein BE, Shiman N. How do medical masks degrade speech perception? Hearing Review. 2020; 27(5): 8-9.