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Headphones for hearing impairment offer different features to help people with hearing difficulties engage in social activities, listen to music, and watch television.
This article explores the different types of headphones for people with hearing difficulties, some products to consider, and alternative devices.
Headphones for hearing impairment can help people with hearing difficulties listen to music, watch television, and attend online meetings. They are louder than regular headphones and come with adjustable volume and tone settings.
People can also adjust the sound settings for each ear’s device separately if they have a hearing impairment in one ear – this can help protect the ear with better hearing.
These devices may also come with a sound amplifier, so individuals can amplify sounds without taking off their headphones. However, people should exercise caution when increasing the volume to prevent hearing damage from excess sound levels.
Various types of headphones may suit people with hearing impairment. These include:
- Bone-conduction headphones: These transmit sound by vibrating the skull rather than the air in the outer ear. They may suit people who exercise regularly, as they sit in front of the ears to allow users to hear other sounds such as traffic.
- Noise-reducing headphones: These cover the outer ear to reduce external noises. People may wear them in areas where noise can be dangerous or to block out unwanted noise. A more effective form of these is noise-canceling headphones, which may help block out low-frequency sounds. They use microphones and speakers to carry out active noise cancelation, which masks external noises.
- Noise-isolating headphones: These cover the ears to block outside distractions to help people focus on their audio. They tend to be effective for blocking out mid-high frequency sounds and do not require batteries. They use passive noise cancellation, which relies on hardware rather than technology to filter sound.
People may also find headphones in different designs, such as:
- Over-the-ear headphones: Feature a large cup size and may contact a person’s hearing aid microphones because they cover the entire ear and press against the skull. They also have noise cancellation properties.
- On-ear headphones: Press against the ears but do not cover the entire ear. They are also smaller and lighter than over-the-ear devices and may suit people that wear in-the-ear (ITE) and in-the-canal (ITC) hearing aids.
- In-ear headphones: Earbuds with an elongated structure and silicone tip, which sit inside the ear canal. However, they may not be suitable for people with concerns about hearing preservation. Other headphone types may be preferable for protecting the ears from noise.
People may consider the following before purchasing headphones for hearing impairment:
- Adjustable controls: Some headphones for hearing impairment may have adjustable volume, bass, and balance features.
- Features: Some headphones come with noise reduction and voice clarification features. These may be useful for individuals working in an office setting who wish to filter out unwanted background noise.
- Control: People may find wired and wireless headphones for hearing impairment, while they may also be compatible with Bluetooth devices.
- Design: Individuals may find over-the-head headphones and those with an under-the-chin design. Headphones with this design may be the best option for people who wear hearing aids and need to use headphones for long hours.
- Speaker placement: If the headset’s speaker does not sit properly on the hearing aid’s microphone, a person might have difficulty hearing audio.
Some of the top headphones that people with hearing impairment can purchase include:
Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based.
These are over-ear headphones with features that include:
- wireless audio transmission
- closed-back design and cushioned earpads to reduce background noise
- a multipurpose transmitter that connects to the device through digital or analog input
- rechargeable batteries providing up to 18 hours of operating time
- a weight of 0.68 pounds (lb)
- operating range of 330 feet
These may suit individuals with a severe hearing condition who live with a roommate or partner. The device comes with bass boost and surround sound listening modes to deliver sounds directly to the ears without needing to turn up the volume.
Avantree’s over-ear headphone system comes with the following features:
- 2.4 gigahertz wireless technology
- a multipurpose transmitter that individuals can use to charge their headphones when not in use
- rechargeable and replaceable battery providing up to 12 hours of operating time
- plug and play feature that syncs headphones to other devices automatically
- a weight of 1.21 lb
- operating range of 100 ft
AfterShokz is a maker of sports headphones. According to its website, the company’s products may suit people with conductive hearing loss but not sensorineural hearing loss. This is because these headphones rely on bone conduction, where vibrations bypass the outer and middle ear and send sound straight to the inner ear.
Some features of AfterShokz headphones include:
- bone conduction technology
- open fit design so people can still hear ambient sounds
- Bluetooth connectivity to link with smartphones and tablets
- 6-hour battery life
- compatible for long-wear comfort, as the titanium headbands are lightweight and flexible
- multifunction button to play, skip, stop, answer calls, and activate voice assistant
- comes with charging cables, earplugs, and carrying case
These may suit individuals who exercise regularly, as the headphones help repel sweat, dust, and moisture.
Simolio’s wireless headphones may suit people with hearing impairment who wish to watch television without disturbing others.
Its features include:
- wireless technology
- in-ear design
- effective up to 100 ft
- rechargeable and replaceable battery
- adjustable tone
- noise isolation and memory foam ear-tip
This under-chin headset weighs 2.83 ounces, so people with small ears or sensitive ear canals may find it uncomfortable.
The device comes with a personal sound amplifier so individuals can amplify other people’s voices without taking off their headphones. However, it cannot replace a hearing aid, while it is unclear whether people can use it with a hearing aid.
Sony’s on-ear MDR-ZX110 may suit individuals wearing ITE and ITC hearing aids. Some of its features include:
- wired connectivity
- 12 hertz to 22 kilohertz frequency range
- cushioned earpads and closed-back design to seal in sound
- portable folding design
- comes with a tangle-free cord
Customers mention that Sony’s MDR-ZX110 headphones help them listen to music without disturbing others. However, those with hearing impairment in one ear found that they could not independently adjust the volume for each side.
According to customer reviews, these headphones may also suit those who wear glasses.
People with hearing difficulties may consider the following options to help them listen to music or answer calls:
Made for iPhone hearing aids
People who use Apple devices can connect their Made for iPhone hearing aids to their iPhone, iPad, or iPod.
This can help them stream audio or answer phone calls.
Speakerphones are devices that come with a separate microphone and loudspeaker that allow individuals to engage in conversations. Some phones also have a speakerphone function.
A neck loop is a piece of wire that people can wear around their neck that allows them to listen to various audio devices through their hearing aids.
Many neck loops are compatible with cochlear implants and hearing aids that come with telecoils, small copper wires that receive electromagnetic signals from audio sources.
May public places broadcast telecoil signals for those with hearing impairment, including churches, universities, and airports.
When a person connects the neck loop to a sound source, it changes the incoming sound signal to a magnetic signal and transmits it through the wire loop.
The telecoils in the hearing aids pick up the magnetic signal from the neck loop and process the sound through the individual’s hearing aids.
Headphones for hearing impairment can help individuals engage in social activities, listen to music, watch television programs, and take calls.
These headphones come with different features that allow people to adjust the volume or tone or communicate with others without removing them.
Some devices filter out unwanted background noise, but others may suit individuals who regularly exercise as they may still hear ambient sounds.
People may wish to compare different products and brands before purchasing the device that best suits their budget and lifestyle.