Louder volume without headphones: What devices can help my mother better hear video calls and TV without interfering with her hearing aids?

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What devices can help my mother better hear video calls and TV without interfering with her hearing aids?

Question

My 92 year old mother has hearing loss and lives in a care home. She has hearing aids in both ears and is on oxygen, so has the tubing around her ears. I set her up with an iPad so we could Facetime. Even with the sound at maximum, she has trouble hearing me when I Facetime her. I am looking for a way for the phone calls to be amplified. Headphones or ear buds are not an option because wearing these interferes with her oxygen tubing and hearing aids. It would be awesome if the solution would also allow her to better hear the TV AND to easily switch between the TV and Facetime on the iPad - when it connects. Any ideas?

Our answer

Hearing loss should not have to be a barrier to communication over video call, or entertainment from television. Fortunately, there are many products that are designed to relay clear, high quality sound from televisions and smart devices. 

Many products that address this issue are headphones or earbuds, but that’s not a perfect fit for everyone. We have put together a few solutions below, they are organized by how the device is used. 

These products are a set of speakers that are hung over the back of a chair which bring the speakers near to the ears without making direct contact. 

  • Wireless TV Speakers For Hearing Impaired by Audio Fox is a sound system made up of two high-quality speakers, a transmitter, and audio output connectors. With the Headphone to RCA Adaptor cord the same speakers can be used with any iPad, tablet, computer or smartphone with an audio port. The speakers cost about $200 (U.S.) plus a shipping fee. Adding the Adaptor would cost an extra $8 (U.S.). 

  • System CS3 by ChairSpeaker is made up of two speakers linked together by 50 inches of flexible joints, a transmitter and audio output connectors. This product only works with a television and costs about $250 (U.S.) plus a shipping fee.  

These products are sit ontop of the shoulders and around the neck of the user. 

  • Audiorix Speakers by Audiorix are a set of Bluetooth speakers. They can pair with devices that have Bluetooth capability such as iPads, smartphones, and some new televisions. If you’re certain you would want this to be used with the television, check the make and model to ensure it’s compatible before ordering. This product costs about $80 (Cdn). 

  • BeHear Proxy Personal TV Sound System by Wear & Hear is a wireless neck speaker with optional earbuds and a Bluetooth audio transmitter. The Bluetooth audio transmitter is plugged into the TV and is paired with the neck speaker. It can be paired with smart devices, such as an iPad and switches easily between the TV and a smartphone. The neck speaker can also act as a personal hearing amplifier. The system costs about $335 (Cdn) and Wear & Hear does offer free shipping worldwide and the option for trying it out as a 30-day trial. 

These products act as a portable speaker box. A transmitter is connected to the TV - or a device such as an iPad - and the sound is relayed through the speaker. 

  • Sereonic TV SoundBox by Serene Innovations is a portable speaker system, with a charging base station and a large volume knob. This product costs about $130 (U.S.) plus a shipping fee. It’s also available from amazon.ca for $240 (Cdn). 

  • Wireless TV Speakers by Simolio (available from amazon.ca) is a portable speaker system with charging base, large volume knob, and optional earbuds. This product costs about $175 (Cdn). 

Some video calling applications, like Zoom, offer real-time closed captioning so that users can read along with the conversation.

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