How to Program Your Hearing Aid
Self programming your hearing aid
Have you ever thought of programming your own digital hearing aids? It is very doable if you have the will and are not afraid of trying new things. There are several advantages of doing it yourself instead of going to an audiologist:
- You can fine tune your hearing aid until you are completely happy. You can make some adjustments, try it out for a few days and adjust again. You will not be able to do this with an audiologist. "If you want it done right, do it yourself."
- If your hearing level changes, you can make the adjustment yourself without relying on others.
- You have the satisfaction of a job well done.
- You save money and learn something.
Self-programming a hearing aid is not difficult; however you have to know what you are doing and have the right tools. Over-amplification is the biggest concern; always use the lowest possible gain for a given environment. Prolong exposure to loud noises can further damage your hearing. Beware. Also get advice from your doctor to make sure that hearing aid is the solution to your hearing loss.
Follow the steps below to begin your journey to program your hearing aids.
- Background Information: Get some background knowledge on hearing loss and hearing aid. You can start by reading these articles: Hearing aids, How to buy hearing aid - do it yourself, and Audiogram.
- Hardware: Besides your hearing aid and a PC, you will need a hearing aid programmer, a cable for connecting your hearing aid to the programmer, and another cable (usually USB or serial) for connecting the programmer to the computer. Read the owner's manual for the hearing aid programmer.
- Software: A hearing aid fitting software is needed to manage the entire hearing test and to adjust your hearing aid. A driver is also needed for your hearing aid. Read the instruction manuals for the software.
- Setup: Connect the hearing aid programmer to your PC and your hearing aid to the programmer. Newer hearing aid programmers all use the PC USB port. Install the hearing aid testing software and driver according to the manufacturer's instruction.
- Tuning: Start the hearing aid testing program and play with the software until you are comfortable. Depending on what you want to do (basic fitting, fine tuning), the software will guide you through multiple steps in programming your hearing aid. Be sure to read the instructions carefully and refer back to the owner's manual. The process is very similar to those performed by an audiologist. You will listen to a sequence of sounds and provide your feedback.
Without the software, you still can do this by trial and error if your hearing aid does not require any special tools to make adjustments. Listen to tunes of various frequencies (50hz to 15khz) and make adjustments until you find a setting that is best for you. This is essentially what the software is trying to do.
Some hearing aids come with programming software and hardware. You can just use them; otherwise, you will need to build your own system, which can be difficult unless you know someone in the hearing professional field. We will cover this in the next article Tools for Hearing Aid Programming.