Weather Related Delays and Closings
Winter Weather Advisories

Smartphone Technology Helping People With Hearing Loss

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa – Many people don't like to admit they can't hear well, but technology has come a long way when it comes to helping people hear better.

"It's amazing the different sounds you don't realize you're not hearing," said Dr. Tim Simplot.

Simplot is an ENT specialist at Iowa ENT Center. He said he’s been having hearing issues for several years. He finally decided to have his own hearing checked last year.

“It got to the point where finally with my three daughters, I got sick of not being able to hear them, having to have things repeated," he said.

The 48-year-old got hearing devices a year ago, but you might not be able to tell just looking at him.

"They are fairly well camouflaged. We try to match it with hair color and the technology, how things have advanced," he said.

"It used to be a lot of people thought you were old if you had a hearing instrument, nowadays, it's a listening device," said clinical hearing instrument specialist Curtis Pargeon.

Pargeon reviews audiograms, enters the hearing loss into a computer and uses special software to program a patient's hearing device.

"The technology, also, when it comes to programming has so many features for the patient’s needs, volume control, treble, bass, different memories, and the compatibility with the smartphones," he said.

Last year, manufacturers rolled out smartphone apps to go along with the hearing devices. So, Simplot is able to control his volume on his phone, set levels to different environments, and even stream music to his hearing devices. He can also take phone calls with his aids.

"It's a little confusing to people because they can't hear, and they're like what's going on or even better, people will hear them ringing through my hearing aids because they'll be sitting next to me, and they'll hear ringing," Simplot said.

It's opened up his world to sounds he had forgotten.

"All of a sudden you start wearing these devices and you're like that's what running water sounds like. That's what a bird sounds like. It's almost like the birds all died off until you put these things on and now they're back," he said.

Hearing devices cost an average of $2,500 each and are typically not covered by health insurance.