Why AirPods Are Not Enough to Treat Hearing Loss

Doctor holding otoscope and Examining a woman patient ear
The Importance of Hearing Tests
July 25, 2018
Man sitting with Apple earbuds in his ears

With an estimated 48 million people in the United States now reporting some degree of hearing loss, the hearing industry is hard at work developing solution both for prevention and management of hearing loss. They are not alone. Technology giant Apple is now taking more steps to create more accessible technology for those with hearing impairment.

Apple’s newest offering

While you may not think of Apple as a company at the forefront of hearing technology, they have been designing products with accessibility in mind for years. This includes the Made for iPhone hearing aid program.

“When we created the Made for iPhone hearing aid program, the key question was ‘how do we improve the ability for someone with hearing loss to use an iOS device to do all the things everyone else does, from making phone calls to FaceTime to listening to music and watching movies?'” said Sarah Herrlinger, Apple’s senior manager for global accessibility policy and initiatives.

The newest offering from Apple is called Live Listen. This latest development will allow not only Made for iPhone hearing aids to be used in iOS 12 but also AirPods (Apple’s signature wireless earbuds). This feature will let people use their phone as a microphone, streaming the sound directly to their ears via the AirPods. Apple believes that this could be especially useful in noisy environments which are often a challenge for those with some hearing loss.

AirPods vs. Hearing aids

While Apple’s newest announcement about AirPods and Live Listen is exciting, it’s important to remember that it is not a replacement for hearing aids. Used as more of a Personal Sound Amplification Product (PSAP), Live Listen may come with a smaller up-front price tag, but it still lacks the personalization, robust features and one-on-one guidance that comes with hearing aids. According to the FDA website, “[PSAPs] are not intended to compensate for hearing impairment or to address listening situations that are typically associated with and indicative of hearing loss.”  

Hearing aids are designed specifically for those with hearing impairment and come with a wide range of features to ensure they work for each individual’s situation and needs.  They often include ongoing adjustments, fittings, and counseling on use and maintenance that can make all the difference when it comes to successfully treating and managing hearing loss.

What Apple’s new technology means for the future of hearing healthcare

It’s hard to argue that technology like this is paving the way for smarter and more complete solutions in the future. Imagine the possibilities for those with hearing loss! Not only will technology like this, as it evolves, make hearing with hearing loss more natural and accessible than ever, but it may also remove some of the barriers to using hearing aids too. Hearing healthcare professionals often listen to worries such as:

  • I’m not old enough for hearing aids.
  • Hearing aids are uncomfortable.
  • Everyone will see my hearing aids.
  • It’s not enough hearing loss to need hearing aids.

Could the hearing aids and other hearing solutions of the future, based on this type of technology remove all of these barriers to prevent related health concerns such as dementia and help every one of the 48 million Americans with hearing loss hear better? We think so!

If you believe you have hearing loss, schedule a hearing evaluation with our office. We can help you explore options from hearing aids for every day to AirPods for certain situations to make the best choice for your needs.

 

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